PREVIEW: Manosphere

by Milan Perera

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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.

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