“We have to get really clear about the fact that any sex without full consent is rape. I think it is very difficult for people to hear that.” – Imogen Butler-Cole
EPISODE TEN – IMOGEN BUTLER-COLE ON SEXUAL ASSAULT, ME TOO AND CREATIVE ACTIVISM
THE POWER OF THEATRE TO CHANGE PERSPECTIVES
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About this interview:
Exploring the role of performance to promote healing and raise awareness.
In this episode Amisha is in conversation with actress, writer and activist Imogen Butler-Cole, most recently the creator of acclaimed theatre show “Foreign Body” which explores the subject of sexual violence against women. Imogen created the 45 minute solo performance out of her own stories and testimonies of sexual assault and healing after sexual assault, as well as those of other women survivors and one male perpetrator.
A major influence on the show’s development was her encounters with The Forgiveness Project, a charity that uses the real stories of victims and perpetrators of sexual assault to explore concepts of forgiveness. Imogen shares with us her journey as an artist and an activist to bring these stories to wider audiences and how she discovered first hand their capacity to facilitate healing and raise awareness. She talks us through the raw vulnerability of bringing forth a piece of theatre that is both deeply personal and highly political.
She speaks about the challenge of making a confronting and potentially triggering performance safe enough for audiences – at the same time holding a space open for other stories to come forth in response, how her performance of “Foreign Body” is helping other survivors to process their own experiences and creating a platform for other voices to be heard and why she invited the perpetrator of an assault against her to contribute his voice to her theatre show.
In the wake of the #metoo and #timesup campaigns, Imogen and Amisha explore why it is so difficult to accept that people we know, trust and love are capable of and can be responsible for acts of sexual violence – towards ourselves and towards others – and why it is essential that we learn to accept this fact in order to move forward on this issue as individuals and as a society
They discuss the need for workplace guidelines around sexual violence and how a growing awareness and more open conversation might lead to more healing interventions for people who are at risk of perpetrating, and a recognition of the need for perpetrator pain and rage to also be processed.
“The tool that I have is my craft, is theatre making, and so the thing that I feel that I can do which is most useful in terms of activism is to make art about it.” ~Imogen Butler-Cole
Imogen Butler-Cole is a theatre maker, business trainer, public speaker and activist. She trained at RADA and LISPA and has directed and acted in theatre and TV in Brasil, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Bangladesh, India and the UK. She produced The Tempest in Bangla for Shakespeare’s Globe, was Casting Director for Bishaash, a BBC TV series in Dhaka, Bangladesh and created Dui Desher Golpo, a film exhibition charting the lives of immigrant Bangladeshi women in London.
Imogen trains business professionals in communication for The Old Vic, Aspire Leadership, and RADA in Business, for whom she designed and delivers Confidence and Presence, a course for graduate women. She directs Shakespeare and Devising on the Young Actors’ Summer Schools at RADA and has lectured in Drama and Creative Writing departments at the Universities of Oxford, Westminster, Loughborough, Jadavpur (Calcutta), Kalina (Mumbai) and Jahangirnagar (Dhaka).
Over the last 2 years Imogen has created her debut solo show, Foreign Body, which explores her journey of healing after sexual assault. The show is touring nationally and internationally after premiering at Southbank Centre’s WOW Festival in March 2017.
To find out more about Imogen, visit www.imogenbutler-cole.co.uk
To connect or work with Amisha Ghadiali, visit www.amisha.co.uk
Resources from this episode:
The Forgiveness Project
Dr. Nina Burrowes
Unbroken – Memoir from Madeleine Black
Me Too Movement
Oprah at the Golden Globes
Sarah Silverman Twitter Exchange
If you have been triggered by this conversation and need to talk to somebody, please call:
- 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247
- the Rape Crisis national freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year)
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