Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2003 & F***ing Furious Theatre
The Girls of May
The Zoo, 10th – 16th August 2003 7.15pm
Paris, May 1968
Europe is in the midst of a revolution. In Paris, students occupy the Sorbonne and most of the Latin Quarter for months in protest against a restrictive society, conservative government and an archaic university system. The nights are lit by burning barricades, the nocturnal silence broken by police sirens, exploding granades, cries, the sound of people fleeing. Bourgeois Paris trembles behind closed windows. For a few brief months, the dream of revolution holds sway.
Ten girls narrate their experiences as they fight, fall in love, or nurse their child in the occupied university – as they attempt to realise their ideals through their own lives. Specially-shot and edited film visuals, including rare archive footage from the streets of May 1968 to more recent protests, weave through this rich and intimate narrative. Against the backdrop of dramatic images from the G8 protests in Genoa in 2001, questions are raised about the nature of citizenship and democracy By turns provoking, funny and full of hope, this play ultimately strikes the audience by the profound humanity of its characters.
Seen through the eyes of The Girls of May these events take on a lasting significance for both protest movements and gender debates today.
The Girls of May is based on the poetry of Alba de Cespedes, an Italo-Cuban writer who was living close to the Sorbonne in May 1968. Unable to concentrate on her work through the sound of riots and clashes, she instead went out to the Sorbonne, to debates and assemblies, to meet the students and question them on their ideas and hopes. The poems on which this play is based are almost a transcript of those conversations.
After experimenting with different forms of creative action in anti-globalization protests and campaigns, director Sara Muzio decided to take her ideas to the stage. Political engagement is somewhat a family tradition for Sara. With a grandmother who fought in the Italian Resistance and later became part of the Italian Constituent Assembly, a Situationist uncle and parents recently turned activist film makers touring South America, Sara’s interest in politics can hardly be said to be rebellious. In this raw and compelling play she draws on her cultural background to offer a fresh and youthful vision of what drives people to protest today.