10th October 2018

I have a voice…

In spite of being a writer, I find myself frequently feeling like I don’t have a voice; that I’m somehow not relevant or that I haven’t experienced enough heartache or whatever my inner critic is deciding to tell me today.  I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the stories that I want to tell.  I wrote some monologues a while ago about human trafficking and have had the desire for a few years to develop them further into a play.  However, the rise of #metoo and the behaviour of a number of people in my industry has really made me start to question things. I’m a white middle class male, and there is really nothing I can do about it.  I won’t apologise for it, because I didn’t choose it, it simply is.  So I ask myself, “what right do I have to tell the story of a trafficked woman, or the story of any woman for that matter, or the story of a person of colour?” The truth is, I don’t.  Any storyteller worth their salt will do pretty extensive research in to the lives and characters of their stories, but I will never know what it’s like to be trafficked and I will never know what it’s like to be a woman, I can’t.  I can only imagine… and of course, if there is ever a place for imagination it’s in the realm of storytelling, whatever form that takes.

But the problem is, these stories need to be told.  Men need to understand the world from a woman’s perspective because I genuinely believe (and call me naïve, if you need to) that actually the vast majority of men are decent human beings that want the best for the women in their lives and womankind generally, but a far too large number of misogynistic idiots have tainted pretty much the whole of ‘man’kind, and that makes me angry.  Angry for the women that have experienced their trauma through words and actions and angry for the good men that have been tainted by them.  So these are stories that need to be told.  They are important stories.  But maybe I’m not the right person to tell them; the problem is, I’m not interested in the stories of white middle class privilege, so I come back to the place where I feel like I don’t have a voice again.  But I do… I do have a voice… I have a voice that can support the stories of women, of the LGBTQ+ communities, of people of colour, of those who experience marginalisation in any way, shape or form.  I’m also a white privileged male who can take responsibility for showing them that we’re not all the same. As a playwright, I have a skill that can help them shape their stories and tell them in an effective and powerful way.  I can use my privilege to defend them, to give them a voice where they have none.  The question I am wrestling with now is, ‘how do I do that?’

I sat in a coffee shop this morning and a guy came up to me and told me that he’d heard me talking in the same coffee shop a couple of weeks ago and I’d been talking about Macbeth. He was listening to the conversation and something I’d said inspired him and, off the back of that, he’d written a poem. It was a small thing but it really made my day because it cut through everything my inner-critic tries to tell me and reminded me, ‘I have a voice and that voice can have an impact on those around me’. So I’m choosing today to exercise that voice – to explore, experience, collaborate and learn!  Feel like working with a white privileged male who really wants to learn more about the experiences of others who don’t share that privilege?  Then get in touch!