emma joy hill
NOTES ON PLAYING NATASHA
During this devising process, I focused mostly on the performance of bodies. I wanted to accentuate the devices Natasha uses at her disposal to advance throughout the play, mainly her sex. Playing with her as an actress, performer, and sex worker, I’ve tried to have a consciousness of the duality, of my own self in the mix. Throughout the pieces, I wanted there to be an awareness of Emma playing Natasha and Natasha at times playing the role of her lover, Protopopov. As a performer, there is always the awareness of an audience. With the virtual theatre scene taking a rise and self-taping becoming the main mode of capturing, instead of in the theatre where seats are filled, there’s nothing but your own digitized reflection looking back. There’s also an underlying frustration with this reflection. Whether it be the consciousness of appearance, smudged makeup, sad vacancy, or the tripod falling during the middle of the monologue for the seventeenth time. Instead of fighting against this awareness, I leaned into it further and is something prominent in these pieces. Again, there are so many facets to Natasha that I didn’t touch on here -- her controlling relationship with Prozorov sisters, her motherhood, her relationship to language, the color green, the inefficiency of maids. The list goes on, as what I’ve created is just the tip of the trauma-iceberg. I’m not sure if I believe in the notion of finished or unfinished, but I will say all of these pieces are in some form of the development stage still -- I hope to continue to explore her life further even after this process ends.
the duality series.
*radeniya (n). ecstatic dance rituals often ending in orgies performed by the khlysty
acrylic painting on canvas
8 x 10in
an exploration on germaine greer, fertility rites, gender/ed performance, + the cuck
real theatre of the sex war.
cuckold i + ii.
letter from the past self.
natasha in red.
natasha plays protopopov
NOTES ON NATASHA
There is so much to unpack with Natasha. She’s an emblem of revolution in a lot of ways. Meticulous, forward-thinking, and understanding of how sexuality fits into social standing. She arguably takes the most action out of any other character, climbing the social ladder diligently without mercy. Though we see her come out on top by the end of the play, there’s an unspoken trauma that accentuates her motives entirely. This is quite sad, yet no one truly seems to notice and a lot of her character remains a mystery. We don’t even know her full name.
Natasha is undoubtedly a destruction that forces a re-creation of the Prozorov household. And this in itself is quite feminist I think. Chekhov writing such a powerful woman who strategically utilizes the men around her, who unapologetically has an affair, and who participates as a mother amidst it all is quite revolutionary, especially for her time (though, notably not so kind). However, it is important to note all of this is at the expense of other women in the play. The setting of women against each other is a story for the ages - one Gloria Steinem coined as the “pull her down” syndrome in the seventies, one we also partake in today with our social media, reality television, and culture as a whole. Though we can empathize with Natasha and women like her, though we can commend her on her ability to succeed given her setbacks, we must be cognizant of the patriarchal system she actively contributes to and the one we often support as well.
A revolution is on the brink here. We know it historically, we see it structurally, and the story certainly gives way to it. There’s a great fire in the play. One we don’t see. One I wish Natasha started, but still have not decided on. Nonetheless, she has a hand in instigating change. She sweeps in from god-knows-where, sets up shop, and begins to disrupt. A lot of Chekhovian characters ruminate without movement, unlike Natasha who can’t wrap her head around the stagnancy. By the end of the play, the house is flipped. Interior individuals are exterior, shots are fired, people are bustling. People are forced to take action. She spearheads it. Maybe knowingly, maybe not, maybe both. Either way. We reckon her force.
There must be destruction of the old systems to make way for the new. They knew it in 1917. We know it now.