This event contains adult themes including miscarriage, domestic violence, distress, burlesque performance – age restriction 16+.
A dance performance by Erica Mulkern, based on research by Dr Liat Levita and Ankita Mishra, Department of Psychology, portrays three women from different eras in history. Trapped in a gendered role they didn’t ask for, domestic bliss turns into a distorted nightmare. A post-show panel discussion will explore mental well-being, flight and fright responses, and the impact on brain and body of being trapped in a role imposed by society.
About the project
The term “Suzy Homemaker” is used as a derisive reference to any woman with habits linked to stereotypical domestic activities traditionally done by women. It was also a line of miniature functional toy household appliances produced by Topper Toys, launched in 1966 that taught girls how to be the “perfect housewife” just like their mother. In this performance we see women throughout history trapped in a role they did not ask for, they had no choice.
Erica Mulkern is in the midst of creating a 1hr long solo dance theatre piece that explores the development/growth of contemporary feminism as we know it today, focussing on the periods just before what are arguably the 3 most important moments in the history of contemporary feminism: the suffragette movement, the introduction of the Hays Code and the sexual revolution of the 60’s.
The piece has 3 characters, performed by Erica. The first: Susannah, a young lady entering “society” for the first time in the Edwardian era. She is promenaded in front of suitors, but as an educated woman she realises she’s just being sold like cattle. She plays her role, but dreams of more, being introduced to the Suffragette movement and developing hope before police quash the movement and she is married off. The second: Ms. S, is a Burlesque performer from the late 20’s/early 30’s, working in a sleazy club but taking pride in her work and the independence it provides. However, she begins to feel unsafe both because the clientele become more rowdy and because of political turmoil. She questions if she is performing for her independence or for the male gaze, ultimately deciding to hang up her heels. The third: Suzy, a 1950’s housewife that is quite strange, but to the outside world looks like the “perfect wife” – neat, prim, and makes an excellent Victoria sponge. There is a madness to her that you can’t help but both be disturbed by and pity.
Suzy Homemaker has been performed at Lawrence Batley Theatre, The Drama Studio Sheffield, Lancashire Fringe Festival (sold out show with positive reviews), Durham Fringe Festival, Leeds Art Gallery, Open Source Arts and the ARC Project.
Photo credit: Derwood Pamphilon
- Dr Liat Levita, Department of Psychology
- Erica Mulkern, Creator and Performer
- Callum Holt, Producer
- Jen Nevin, Mentor/Dramaturg
- Stefania Pinato, Rehearsal/Movement Director
- Amelia Sierevogel, Costume Designer
- Harriet Bradbury, Historical Consultant
Erica would like to thank Enable Us Project, her team and family for their support and guidance for this performance. Suzy Homemaker has been supported in the past using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.