International Women’s Day is coming up and Melbourne Playback Theatre is proudly presenting The F-word: Celebrating International Women’s Day, on Thursday March 10, a special night of storytelling, music, and theatre with guests including Clementine Ford (writer and social commentator), Tammy Anderson (award winning Actor and Playwright), Melba Marginson (executive Director of the Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition), Jane Gilmore (editor of Women’s Agenda). The night will involve a panel discussion followed by an interactive Q&A with the guests and a singular Melbourne Playback Theatre performance.

Australian Stage has a chat to Playback Theatre’s performer Emily Taylor about the show and what she thinks are critical issues facing women today.

Emily TaylorIs there an expectation that Playback Theatre will be light and comical?
As Playback Theatre involves true stories from audience members, there isn't the expectation that the show be wholly comedy or drama. Every Playback Theatre show is completely different, but usually (as in real life) both comedy and pathos occur somewhere.

What do you do when people present sad or tragic stories?
When a story involving personal tragedy, loss, or trauma is shared, the performing team tries to honour the truth of the story, but at the same time there is a concerted effort to not re-traumatise the story teller, or to present them with content they have no wish to see.

This is when our extensive training in metaphor, genre and different theatrical forms is most useful. We avoid literal replaying as much as we can.

What has been the hairiest moment on stage for you so far?
One moment doesn't stand out as hairier than another, but it's always a bit knuckle-whitening when you find yourself alone on stage, wondering what to do next. Luckily it only lasts a split second and another offer comes along!

Clementine Ford will have some great troll stories – will the night be an opportunity to name and shame?
I'm sure many complex and resonant issues will come up in the panel discussion, but any naming or shaming will be entirely up to the panelists! You'll have to come along to find out...

Is Barnaby Joyce REALLY HONESTLY TRULY our Deputy PM? If so, what can we do about it?
It is NOT a dream. So, unfortunately, we aren't going to wake up. At least he isn't Minister for Women!

What do you see as the biggest issues facing women today? In Australia? Globally?
I think that unfortunately equality is still the key issue. There are still different sets of rules and expectations for each gender, which in turn have a whole range of life affecting consequences – nationally and globally.

What do you think are effective ways to address lack of self-esteem in women? Is having/wanting/being conditioned into pleasing men actually our biggest problem? If so, what should we do about that?
I think the quest for healthy self-esteem is an essential part of the human condition – for both genders. How we balance self-belief with ego, and our identity with the perception of others is (I would argue) a universal struggle. My advice to combat lack of self-esteem would be to be kind to yourself whenever you can. Be your own friend.

Melbourne Playback Theatre presents The F-word: Celebrating International Women’s Day – 10 March 2016 at Howler, 7–11 Dawson Street, Brunswick (opposite Brunswick Baths). Visit for further details.

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