The third interview with those behind The Shedding Of Skin, is with our fantastic playwright Vittoria Cafolla.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PLAY’S TITLE?
It was initially an instinctive title. The idea that in order to leave that particular area/time of their lives behind & be accepted into society again, the combatants had to become something else. When the play began to form into its current shape, the title aligned with idea of the Furies almost “peeling off” story after story, by telling them to Sam.
COULD YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT THE FURIES AND THE GREEK CHORUS AND WHY YOU CHOSE TO USE THEM IN THE PLAY?
I have a background in classics and have always been a little obsessed with Greek tragedies. I had read Pat Barker’s The Silence of The Girls while I was in the very early days of researching the play and she does an incredible job of telling the story of the women at Troy. That book and the often epic nature of the things I was reading about women in conflict, made me realise that maybe the play needed an epic form. And luckily Paula and Lisa agreed! The Furies seemed perfect because they were originally creatures who had pursued and punished men who did heinous things (before they were rebranded as ‘kindly ones’ by Athena & began to be offered up to at childbirth and weddings with the advent of democracy in Athens.) And so much of this play is about justice, in that these crimes against women aren’t taken seriously enough, so it felt natural to use the Furies to explore that.
WHICH OF THE CHARACTERS’ STORIES ARE FACTUALLY BASED AND WHERE/HOW WERE THE STORIES SOURCED?
All of the stories the women tell – are sourced from women’s stories in/after conflict. I took some license – I sometimes had to find a bridge in theme & fill in imagined details. They were sourced from people (here in NI) such as ex-combatants, historians, and archivists. I read newspaper articles, academic articles, books, survivors stories, listened to podcasts- if there was a book on women’s experiences in war, I am more than likely to have read it or own it.
HOW DO YOU HOPE WOMEN WHO WATCH THE PLAY WILL BE AFFECTED OR CHANGED BY THE STORIES CONTAINED WITHIN IT?
I hope that they will find it engrossing and want to know more about the conflicts mentioned and the stories that are within them. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel bad or preached at, or guilty for not knowing about these conflicts – it’s more about illuminating not only the effects that conflict has on these women, but its legacy – as Paula and Lisa have said, violence often moves from public to private spheres when a conflict is ‘resolved’. One of the things that I think people who are quick to say “let’s move on” (I used to be one of them!) don’t realise is that it will take many years for a post conflict society to right itself so to speak- and that includes effects on gender roles- both male and female.