Melbourne born actor Evelyn Krape has been gracing both stage and screen for over 30 years. Her list of accomplishments so impressive they would fill a book. The ‘early days’ at The Pram Factory saw such iconic plays as Don’s Party and Dimboola (and again at the Malthouse under the direction of Michael Kantor); amongst other plays, MTC allowed a soupcon of the Bard in Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It; Shakespeare in the Botanical Gardens allowed for more play with iambic pentameter in plays such as Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing; the Malthouse saw Krape in Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Gow’s Away and the co-devised Green Room Award Winning Ginger (amongst others); Victorian Opera Company saw Krape in Orpheus in the Underworld and Sin; other theatre includes plays by Jack Hibberd: Lavender Bags and Mothballs; as well as Endgame, Torch Song Trilogy, Crucible and, of course, Female Parts. Her Yiddish theatre work Ek Velt will tour New York this month. Film and TV includes: Wil, Babe, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Dimboola, Bastard Boys, Blue Heelers, Flying Doctors and Homicide.

Krape is a consummate artist who recognizes the power of her art; her art can ‘speak’, can empower, can educate – and Krape uses this knowledge to its full potential in her new one-woman show: More Female Parts.

The first incarnation – Female Parts – was a huge headline making hit in the ’80’s. Now, some thirty years later, Krape has reconnected with the concept and is revisiting with the characters of the day. Only this time she explores the sixty-something woman and finds that the issues she is facing have not changed very much – only now ‘grandmother duties’ are added to the list.

For Krape, it is still about empowering and educating: “It’s important for women of all ages to experience the prejudices that still exist for women today. But also the conflicts for women in wanting a career and the responsibilities of family life , the way in which technology is playing a significant role in controlling women; a form of domestic violence and that despite the achievements of girls in school and university women are still under represented at the top of professional life.”

Melbourne playwright Sara Hardy saw the original Female Parts and was so inspired by the original production – in terms of its theatricality, physicality, economy and the focus on the actor in space – to work on this updated piece. “And of course the issues explored in the Dario Fo, Franca Rame monologues; women’s oppression in the workforce, at home and society in general. Sara found that this resonated with her today,” says Krape.

So, how much has changed for women over the last 30 years and what is the place of sixty- something year old women in our community? Krape thinks there is a much greater awareness of the degree to which women are defined by their femaleness. “The fact that Rosie Batty has a very high profile because of the violence she sustained has focussed the community’s attention on the totally unacceptable level of violence against women and children.”

“There is no doubt that particularly for women the older you get, the more invisible you become. That is in part due to society having a love of all that’s new, which inevitably leads to embracing youth. I would love to see far more inter generational exchanges occurring. We all have a lot to share- young and old.”

Krape started at the Pram factory in Carlton in the 1970’s when the new wave of Feminism was at its peak. “With Female Parts we struck a chord in the community,” she explains. “It was like riding the crest of a wave. We were in the right place at the right time, not just with the issues but the designer [Neil Greenaway], director [Lois Ellis] and I found a theatrical simplicity that startled our audiences. We were supposed to do a three week season but it went for three months.”

“What is really pleasing is that the word Feminism was disparaged for the last two decades but the sentiment behind it has never disappeared and may even be making a comeback!”

More Female Parts consists of three separate monologues which confront key issues including divorce, the glass ceiling and control within a relationship. Krape’s style is exactly as it was thirty so years ago and that is witty and engaging high octane energy. Physical theatre is a trademark and to cement this, Krape enthuses that she is probably in better physical shape than she was 30 years ago. Her motto is clear: “Everything I do involves in some way using the theatre to articulate cultural and social issues in the most comic, moving and theatrically exciting way possible.”

She also loves having a new team of women designers on the project ( Emma Valente [ lighting], Rainbow Sweeney [ set/costumes], Sara Hardy [ writer] Debby Maziarz[ producer]) who are working with Krape and director Lois Ellis in the most collaborative way. “The challenges are always in getting the world of each monologue to express the ideas in the most cohesive way; physically, intellectually, emotionally and of course comically. We are not interested in being didactic.”

More Female Parts is a one-woman tour de force examining life through the lens of an older woman, but touching on issues that affect all people.

More Female Parts
June 30 – July 4
artscentremelbourne.com.au

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