The Struggling life of an artist

Written by Xiomara Meyer and directed by Tamalynne Grant, The Struggling Life of an Artist is a comedy play that follows the journey of an aspiring horror writer (Meyer) and an aspiring actress (Grant) as they they face the choice to forfeit artistic integrity in the name of "success", or to stay true to their art but miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

xiomara meyer on female horror writers:

We’ve all heard of the classics: Dauphne Du Marurier, Mary Shelley, Anne Rice, Tananarive Due, and Joyce Carol Oats, among others. We know they can write well, and we know they can write “scary”. The above-mentioned female authors are already established in the genre (although it took them a long time to get there), so when you're given a choice between Shirley Jackson and H.P. Lovecraft, you will go straight into judging how frightening the story is based on the blurb, not by whether or not you think their gender can deliver. 

But what about newcomers?

The problem I have encountered has more to do with preconceived notions about storytelling when giving opportunities to new writers. It’s changing now, but to some degree horror is still a predominately "male" genre, just as romance novels are still somewhat predominately "female" - the problem with this is that therefor, generally, a horror book written by a woman might not be perceived as "scary"" as one by a man would.

But the real problem is not so much being told that you have to change to secure your book will sell well - it’s the idea that artists have to “change” in the first place. Why? People we as a society have somehow developed a social algorithm when it comes to the arts. Sure, there are those that stick to their guts and stand out, but they only prevail after they have defeated every obstacle telling them their work is crap and will never “make it”.

Today’s music all sounds the same. People on TV all look alike. Books all have the same general story-line.

We as artists have to stop giving the people what they want and put ourselves first, because the industry is dying and the problem is not them telling us to change - the problem is us agreeing to do so.

TAMALYNNE GRANT ON ACTRESSES:

We live in a time where now more than ever, minorities are fighting for their voices to be heard, to be seen, to be equal. This includes women in the entertainment industry. For far too long, women have been exploited in film and theatre: objectified as “decoration” and subjugated by a male dominated fantasy.

I myself have experienced (to a small extent), what it’s like to be put into a box for being a woman when it comes to the performing arts:

“You’re not feminine enough.”

“You’re too boyish, you need to learn to feel more sexy in leotards and heels.”

“You’re a woman, stop being so harsh, learn to be softer.”

Yes, these are things I experienced first hand, which is nothing compared to the vast majority of actresses. Often most roles for women include being: single and looking for the love of their life; the damsel in distress; widowed; a victim of sexual abuse or the love interest of a male protagonist. These are roles where women are portrayed as “underdogs”. Of course there are great female leads such as Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter, Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in Captian Marvel and Boudica, Antigone and Elektra. Yes the list continues, so one would probably think “that’s a lot though…” Well if I were to list the amount of amazing male leads out there then I could write a novel about it.

I feel that women’s artistic freedom is very restricted. Often, stereotypical portrayals of women include:

Beautiful women can’t play goofy/physically comical characters like Jackie Chan in Shanghai Knights, Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, Brad Pitt in Mr & Mrs Smith, Carrie Grant in Arsenic & Old Lace

“Ugly” (according to media’s standards) women can’t play serious characters like “ugly” men such as (according to boxofficescoops.com): Steve Buscemi in Resevoir Dogs, Paul Giamatti in The Last Station, Adrien Brody in The Pianist.

This isn’t a hate letter against men as they suffer many stereotypes themselves. This is a problem set by society where both men and women are responsible. There are many women out there who are just as much to blame for not supporting one another, competing at any cost in the name of success.