Interview: Katy Dye

Katy Dye's show 'Baby Face' is on as part of the 'Calm Down Dear' festival, at Camden People's Theatre on the 7th October. This week I got in touch to find out a bit more about her show, which explores the infantilisation of women in our culture.

(©AmieTaylor @spoonsparkle2015)

1. Tell us a little about your journey in to the arts and how you came to make the work you make today...

I have always had a fascination with the limits that the mind and the body can go to when performing/or watching performance. From a young age I tried to find lots of opportunities to perform, as I knew this made me feel exhilarated. My first experience of devising theatre with friends at school, made me notice how consuming the process of creating performance was, both mentally and physically. I knew I found this way of creating art satisfying, and was confident I wanted to explore this further. I completed an art foundation and then went to study on the Contemporary Performance Practice course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where myself and other students were given a number of different experiences in creating devised performance. To name a few of these experiences, we worked with live art, site specific performance, autobiographical work and created performances in a variety of social contexts. During my time on this course I became really interested in how theatre and performance can get people to explore difficult ideas about their own reality – and in the live moment we may have a more emotional/charged connection to this. I became really interested in the idea of using performance to examine and critique human behaviour, and as a way of questioning and challenging my own attitudes and behaviours.

2. Your show Baby Face is on at CPT on 7th Oct, tell us a little about the piece...

I decided to make Baby Face because due to the way that I look, I have experienced lots of people treating me as younger than I actually am. I became interested in the wider context surrounding my personal experiences, and ideas of woman and smallness being one. The performance is about looking further into the many subtle ways in which adult women may experience infantilisation – physically, emotionally and sexually, and how this effects how women are seen/how we see ourselves. Baby Face will explore stereotypical images of womens infantilisation, such as the little girl, the sexy schoolgirl and the soft skinned baby to unpick and understand their complex effects. It will explore why people are so uncomfortable to use the word woman, and in turn, feel like a woman. It will draw attention to the desire to be cared for and the blurry lines between protection, tenderness, and infantilisation. It will explore the challenging reality of being a woman today, when in many ways, women are still expected to look and act like little girls.

3. What practical action do you think (if any) can we take to shifting the infantalization of women?

Throughout the process of creating Baby Face, I have discovered that much infantilisation of women takes place inside our own personal relationships, as well as women’s representation in the media. I have noticed how complex my relationship towards infantilisation is, and noticed how in many ways women use this ‘infantile’ behaviour/way of looking and being – to get what they want. Not to mention that often a submissive/childlike way of behaving in adult women is often classed as sexy, and it is hard to police what people find attractive. Therefore shifting the infantilisation of women is difficult, but I believe there are a few ways in which people can begin to take more power back over this issue.

The media, as always, has a lot to answer for in terms of the perpetuation of the infantilising image of women. How often do you walk down the street or open a magazine and see an image of a women – that could very easily pass as a little girl? ‘Teen’ is one of the most popular porn searches, and women are bombarded with adverts of hundreds of different products to encourage them that youth is value, youth is best for them. I believe that people should be strongly encouraged to develop a critical eye for what they see around them and a deeper understanding of how these images/ways for women to behave are created in the first place. If women were socially conditioned to be subservient towards men, and there is not a place for that in our society, we can begin to look at these images we are being bombarded with every day and start to tear them apart ourselves.

I believe people can make powerful personal choices to challenge the infantilised image of women, and this connects to how we can advance feminism more within our society. I believe personal choice about language is a big step to changing how we think of women. Over the past few months I have tried to use the word women to describe actual women, instead of ‘girl’ (so easily and often used to describe adult women). This has been a challenge, sometimes I can’t help but hesitate or feel embarrassed to use this all the time, but when I use it it changes how I feel about myself or the people I am describing in a positive way. Some people may think that there are bigger things affecting women right now than words, but if words are a reflection of the society we are living in they are a great place to start in terms of choosing how we change inequality in our society. If we can reclaim the word woman, then this is another way we can celebrate real adult women for who they are.

4. Describe your show in six words...

Snow White’s worst nightmare comes true!

5. Who is it for?

This piece is for anyone above the age of 16, especially women who may have felt exposed to infantilising behaviour either in a relationship or within their personal lives, and people who are interested in its wider effects in society.

6.  What do you hope audiences will take away from watching?

I hope that people will start to notice how many ingrained beliefs or behaviours we have towards women, that are in essence infantilising ones. I hope to expose how the subtle effects of infantilisation can effect people, and how damaging this treatment can be, even if it comes from a place of care. I hope people will also be left feeling entertained at how absurd many of our popular culture references are/ the advertising industry can be when selling youthful products to women, or encouraging them that their ‘childlike’ qualities are the most attractive ones. Ultimately I hope people will be uplifted that in spite of this kind of behaviour facing us every day, our key to breaking infantilising behaviour towards women is our own perceptiveness in the face of it.

7. Where can we follow you / the show on social media?

On twitter @katydye1

8. Where can we book tickets?

(c) AmieTaylor @spoonsparkle 2015

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