I Hate You My Mother: Exploring gender relations, power, exploitation and revenge
Jeanette Cronin explores issue of gender and family in her new play I Hate You My Mother.
Jeanette Cronin’s play I Hate You My Mother casts its eye over patriarchy and the plight of women and children through the ages. Using a historical lens Cronin’s characters shift through time and place as she explores the religious prejudices and cultural ambiguities that have led to centuries of oppression.
Cronin describes the play as “an adventure in psychopathy” and tells SX while there may be greater acknowledgement of violence against women and children, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“So many crimes against women and children are acknowledged, discussed, even punished, but we somehow never seem to get to the root of the problem,” she says.
“When abhorrent behaviour has flourished in traditional patriarchal, or father-led, if you like, institutions such as the church or the family, it is often viewed as aberrant rather than endemic. Because authorities deal with just the tip of the iceberg – reported or discovered transgressions only, the scope of the problem never remains in the mind's eye for too long.”
Cronin says she is fascinated by our inability to “truly discus hate crimes against women”, explaining we always use a qualifier.
“But, I wouldn't do that. Not all men are like that. It is a massive responsibility to be stronger. We, women rely on that nobility of mind,” she says.
In Cronin’s play however it’s not always the men who are the perpetrators.
Five scenarios unpack the cultural and religious prejudices that have both birthed and perpetuated the oppression of the weak through mental and physical cruelty.
“I wanted to flip the thing over and posit: What if these crimes were perpetrated by women? Would we throw them in the river to see if they float. Or move them on to a new parish? A new family?” she asks.
It’s a challenging premise and Cronin who is also appearing in the two-hander, laughingly tells us she’s discovered you still have to learn the lines, even when you've written them.
She hopes the audience will leave the theatre feeling discomfort and with a few burning questions in mind.
“Because the more we open up this discussion, the better conversations we will have.”
I Hate You My Mother plays at the Old Fitz Theatre, Woolloomooloo until February 11. Go to redlineproductions.com.au
[image] Jeanette Cronin (supplied)