Te ao pāpāho
We welcome your suggestions of websites, books, films and any other media of interest to lesbians and queer women.
We appreciate the original cartoons provided by Helen Courtney. This one, Flight of fancy, seems to fit particularly well with Media.
Lorae Parry’s play Bloomsbury women and the wild colonial girl had its birth during a five-year stay in London. She and partner Gill Greer, left, had moved there after Gill was appointed as the Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a sexual and reproductive health organisation that works in more than 150 countries.
For once Lorae, a prolific actor and playwright, didn’t work fulltime, “because Gill travelled 30 times a year and I went with her about half the time”.
“I heard of the Katherine Mansfield Centenary Conference coming up at the University of London in 2008 and I thought I could put something together. I had a one-woman show called Darling women, about all these lesbians – including famous women like Katherine Mansfield, Emily Dickinson and Vita Sackville-West – as well as ordinary ones.”
“I fronted up to the conference organisers with this play, and they said ‘Why don’t you just write about Katherine Mansfield and the Bloomsbury women?’” It didn’t hurt that Gill Greer was one of New Zealand’s foremost Katherine Mansfield academics.
Lorae spent about six months cycling to the London Library in St James Square, “with these beautiful iron grids in the floor through which you could see the people below. It had lots of big manuscripts of Mansfield’s and tomes about Virginia Woolf (left).”
“The play is verbatim, all taken from their writing. If Virginia wrote a letter to Katherine, I’d look up the closest letter Katherine wrote back, and their journal entries. I wrote it as if they were talking together, without there actually having been a conversation.”
The play is written for two or three women. Katherine and Virginia are the two protagonists, with other voices including Katherine’s close friend Ida Baker (always called LM). “KM and Virginia were very rivalrous at first but I think they came to some kind of acknowledgement that there was no one else like each of them as a writer. So the rivalry turned into a friendship.”
“Virginia, I wonder if you know what you visits mean to me – how much I miss them. You are the only woman with whom I long to talk work. There would never be another… Farewell dear friend, may I call you that?”
“Towards the end of the play, Katherine knows she is dying of TB and writes five short stories – they all pour out of her, and she’s ecstatic about it. Virginia is suffering from intense depression and anxiety; it seems like one longed to live but couldn’t, and the other wanted to die but didn’t for years.”
“They were two literary giants who were completely different. We’ve never had a play before with Katherine interacting with someone like her. A lot of people don’t know what Virginia meant to Katherine, especially towards the end.”
Lorae also included passages from Katherine’s journal about her relationships with women, including Maata Mahupuku and Eddie Bendall in Wellington.
“I cannot sleep… last night I spent on her arms – and tonight I hate her – which, being interpreted, means that I adore her: that I cannot lie in my bed, and not feel the magic of her body. I feel more powerfully all those so turned sexual impulses with her than I have with any man.”
Lorae played Mansfield in the conference performance and participants loved the play, she says. “Sylvia Ashton Warner’s grandson was there, the granddaughter Katherine’s husband] John Middleton Murray, and lots of very knowledgeable Mansfieldites.”
The play was also performed at the Pacific Playhouse for one night; “it never had a season and we never put down our books.”
Playmarket published the play in 2010 and it was launched early in 2011. “Sue Wilson said after the launch that she’d love to have a crack at the play,” and it was submitted every year to the Circa Council.
In the meantime, Lorae and Gill returned to Wellington, and Lorae the last three years have been a hectic period of writing and performing in plays, political comedies and pantomimes in Wellington. They include Scarlet and gold, her play about her great-great-uncle and female relatives in the 1912 gold miners’ strike in Waihi that led to the founding of the Labour Party.
“Only months ago BW&WCG was pulled out of the hat, Sue cast the actors and I went to the first reading.” The play begins the 2018 Women’s Theatre Festival (WTF) and is also part of the KM130 festival leading up to Mansfield’s 130th birthday on October 14. Lorae and Gill are involved in three Circa events about KM from July to September (see Dyke Diary).
The national rollout of the 2018 NZIFF is well underway, with Auckland and Wellington seasons already live, and Christchurch starting Thursday August 2.
As promised, there are a number – more than usual – of lesbian films, and a significant number more that are women-focussed.
Only Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have the re-screening of Desert Hearts. See it if you can – yes it’s available from other sources, but some of its power comes from the big screen. Sadly, Rafiki is only screening in Wellington and Auckland.
This year is also a year of books-to-films: as well as Desert Hearts, the big lesbian two (screening everywhere) are Disobedience and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Opinion varies on how well they work as films and how well the adaptation has been done. It’s a given that books are better than films (though we are open to expressions of different opinions), and usually readers prefer to know the book first.
All these four have great dramatic power: there is tension, happiness and positivity, loss and grief. There are happy endings, though not for everyone, and there are ambiguous endings.
The Hamilton, Palmerston North and Tauranga seasons start later in the month (22 August for Hamilton, 23 August for the other two), and all are screening Disobedience, The Heiresses, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Tauranga is also screening She Shears.
Programmes for Masterton, Hawke’s Bay and New Plymouth all go live on Thursday August 2. At time of publication the programmes were not complete, but all have Disobedience and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Hawke’s Bay and New Plymouth are also screening The Heiresses.
Who are you reading? Here’s our blog roll; send us links for other lesbian blogs.
Blogs and sites from Aotearoa
The Charlotte Museum “The Charlotte Museum Trust is part of a network of archives preserving lesbian culture for the benefit and understanding of future generations in New Zealand. This is where the Charlotte Museum blogs about her exhibitions, events, archives and lesbian history.”
Making a Peanut, chronicles Grace & Em’s baby making adventures, and a collection of information that may help fellow kiwi lesbians navigate the road to motherhood.
We don’t have to be the building, a blog about Sian Torrington’s project of the same name, about lesbian, bi-sexual, queer female bodied, trans* and female identified activists both 30 years ago during Homosexual Law Reform, and now” who are telling our personal stories as a form of activism”. Sian drew and interviewed lesbian, queer and trans* women for an exhibition in Wellington in 2016 and Auckland in 2017.
Renée’s Wednesday Busk
He Hōaka Kim Mcbreen’s queer Māori political blog.
Out There Pat Rosier’s perceptive comments on her reading and the writing process, the last posts very poignant after her death in 2014.
The Hand Mirror Lesbian, queer and other feminist writing by a variety of bloggers.
Egg Venturous Claire Gummer’s whimsical writing about her backyard chooks and beyond.
Butch on Butch A Facebook page of photographs and comments.
I’m local Info and resources for queer & gender diverse youth around Aotearoa.
Blogs from elsewhere
Carolyn Gage A playwright, also a writer of lengthy and thoughtful blog posts.
Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (DIVA) Fiji An active group of young lesbians linking their human rights with gender, social, ecological and constitutional justice; also on Twitter (@diva4equality).
Feminine Moments – Queer Feminist Art Worldwide An art blog that “presents fine art made by lesbian, bisexual and queer women artists worldwide”.
Isle of Lesbos “A place of art, culture, and learning dedicated to lesbian and bisexual women.”
Lesbians Over Everything A place where lesbians can share our own stories. Segments include “Aaah real lesbians” and “Everyday lesbophobia”.
The Lesbrary “The humble quest to read everything lesbian: a lesbian book blog”. Maintains its own “(Lesbian) Book Blog” roll (16 at last count).
Listening 2 Lesbians A page recording women’s experiences of being abused or silenced as lesbians and of being subjected to misogyny and lesbophobia within and outside the community;news stories on lesbian rights, violence and discrimination against the lesbian community.
Lizzy the Lezzy Lizzy started as an animated stand up comedian. The website hasn’t been updated since 2016, but she also has a Facebook presence.
Not writing but blogging is Stella Duffy, Pākehā Londoner, also on Twitter as @stellduffy.
Robin Morgan is an American poet, author, political theorist and activist, journalist, lecturer and radical feminist.
Sister Outrider is the award winning blog of Claire Heuchan, a Black radical feminist from Scotland, with a website, Facebook and Twitter online presence.
The Total Femme “Your friendly neighborhood femme mom bookworm” has a Meditation for Queer Femmes posted Mondays, links to other blog posts or articles in “Pingy-Dingy Wednesday”, Fridays highlight queer femmes from all walks of life.
Women You Should Know “a digital media property and community all about dynamic women …” with a website and Facebook presence.