Lucy McCormick is looking for strong female role models; the kind who can be her hero, the kind who are inspiring. Luckily she has the whole of history to search for them. Unluckily most stories from history are about men and where there are stories about women they may meet unhappy endings.
None the less, Lucy commences her (mostly) chronological exploration of the feminine, starting with Eve and then romping through Boudica, Florence Nightingale, Anne Boleyn and the Suffragettes.
In the Eve tale there are themes of sex, consent, knowledge and blame which Lucy deliciously highlights and then exaggerates like smashing apples into apple sauce. Sometimes playing with the grotesque and absurd is the only way to respond to themes which are grotesque and absurd.
In the next chapter of Boudica, Lucy reenacts the final fight of Boudica against the large Roman army who have killed her husband; charging up the hill and fighting for her life. Many die in this battle but Lucy shares that the Celts believed death was to be celebrated as the spirit would go to a better place, therefore they would often laugh about death. The audience is invited to join in a laugh about death, laughing about the death of Boudica’s soldiers, laughing about the death of their own family members, laughing that one day we too will die. As these deaths circle closer the enthusiasm the audience has for laughing diminishes.
As we reenact moments from the different stories, in a way which is sometimes joyful, sometimes shocking, sometimes disturbing and sometimes just weird, we also begin to slowly peel back the layers of Lucy’s motivation for this search for a hero.
At the heart is her relationship with her recently deceased father, and the many internalised messages of “shame”, “not good enough” and “not normal” which she has internalised from that relationship. This is related to her sexuality, her looks and her not meeting his expectations for her.
“For this story we are going to flip it; you all be Florence Nightingale and I’ll be the patient. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?”Lucy McCormick
Lucy asks this repeatedly; although the auditorium is now full of people enrolled as Florence Nightingale, no one offers her an answer.
Moving to the death of Anne Boleyn, Lucy rewrites her final speech and then sings “the first cut is the deepest”. Betrayed by a powerful man she loved, Lucy “bleeds” onto the stage as she expressed the sadness of the moment.
Reflecting, Lucy is not sure that she has found a hero to inspire her and give her strength to carry on. Luckily Mariah Carey’s Hero song reminds her that “a hero lies in you”.
Jung & the Golden Shadow
Jung talked about everyone having a shadow which is all of the bad things about us that we do not want to acknowledge as ours; the things which we suppress but which then bubble up sometimes. But according to Jung, everyone also has a golden shadow. The qualities we see in our heroes are often the good qualities abut ourselves which we struggle to accept.
So perhaps Eve represents sexual liberation, Boudica represents strength, Florence Nightingale represents acceptance and Anne Boleyn represents staying true to yourself to the very end. Whatever they represent to Lucy, or to you, those qualities are not external, they are yours and should be claimed as so.
Many people have internalised messages of shame or “not good enough” which they carry around with them, which can make it really difficult to accept the hero which is inside each of us. Whatever we have been told, we are good enough, we are stronger than we think, we are worthy of love, we are heroes.