by Milan Perera
University of Bristol Drama Society proudly presents their latest production, ‘Manosphere’, spearheaded by the dynamic duo Anna Sharp and Stan Abbott-Stacey and running from Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th at the Winston Theatre.
I have had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Sharp and Abbott-Stacey during some of the frantic rehearsals leading up to the performance. Sharp, when asked what inspired the creation of this production, pinpointed the vigil that was organised in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021. This was hijacked by a group of online trolls, who bombarded the social media platform with vile misogynistic messages. Sharp used this online misogyny to shape the production.
The callout for this performance was met with enthusiasm, with one hundred students attending auditions. Sharp and Abbott-Stacey had the unenviable task of whittling down this large pool of keen thespians down to fifteen.
There is no easy way to highlight the issues emanating from misogyny, and the content of the performance is going to be raw and visceral with plenty of references to gender based violence, sexual assault and subjugation. Whilst the World Wide Web and social media have made the world a global village, more people are increasingly finding themselves unable to form long-term relationships. This had led to the formation of Incel culture, an outreaching tentacle of misogyny, which due to its nameless and faceless aspect, has become increasingly virulent.
Sharp, when asked why the incel culture is rising worldwide, responded that many factors could be causing this, including the disappearance of youth services from grassroot levels, and the disintegration of society, as predicted under the socio-economic structure. Furthermore, she touched upon the “Me Too” movement. Sharp and Abbott-Stacey both commented that misogyny, like a pathogen, has the capacity to morph into different forms to continue poisoning society.
Sharp is no novice to theatre; her previous involvement with TRASh was met with critical acclaim. However, she feels that the central theme of Manosphere is of paramount importance in the current zeitgeist. This is Abbott-Stacey’s debut production, but he shows no nerves and is relishing the experience.
Brace yourself for a rollercoaster ride as the highly polished cast treads the boards between 3 – 5 February at the Winston Theatre.
My own work is self-labelled as documentary photography, out of a lack of a better title. By carrying a camera daily, I aim to embody the spirit of the Brownie in making the means to photography ready to me at every moment, without obstruction – by doing so, I can take a photograph of anything that captures my eye and interests me enough to preserve. Any of us can do this these days, with a camera readily available in our pockets around the clock – and many of us do so without even thinking about it. Next time you take your phone out to take a photograph, whether it is of your friends or of something that caught your eye, think about how you are participating in the act of documenting your life through photography. Make prints of your favourites, display them on your walls, share them with your friends and family. Follow the tradition of those who came before you and took their own snapshots documenting their lives. Everyone is a documentary photographer today, and this is a good thing.