“We have to get really clear about the fact that any sex without full consent is rape. I think it is very difficult for people to hear that.” – Imogen Butler-Cole
Episode 10 – Imogen Butler-Cole on Sexual Assault, Me Too and Creative Activism
Art as activism in the arena of sexual violence
Exploring the role of performance to promote healing and raise awareness.
Listen to the conversation:
About this interview:
In this episode Amisha is in conversation with actress, writer and activist Imogen Butler-Cole, most recently the creator of acclaimed theatre show “Foreign Body” which explores the subject of sexual violence against women. Imogen created the 45 minute solo performance out of her own stories and testimonies of sexual assault and healing after sexual assault, as well as those of other women survivors and one male perpetrator.
A major influence on the show’s development was her encounters with The Forgiveness Project, a charity that uses the real stories of victims and perpetrators of sexual assault to explore concepts of forgiveness. Imogen shares with us her journey as an artist and an activist to bring these stories to wider audiences and how she discovered first hand their capacity to facilitate healing and raise awareness. She talks us through the raw vulnerability of bringing forth a piece of theatre that is both deeply personal and highly political.
She speaks about the challenge of making a confronting and potentially triggering performance safe enough for audiences – at the same time holding a space open for other stories to come forth in response, how her performance of “Foreign Body” is helping other survivors to process their own experiences and creating a platform for other voices to be heard and why she invited the perpetrator of an assault against her to contribute his voice to her theatre show.
In the wake of the #metoo and #timesup campaigns, Imogen and Amisha explore why it is so difficult to accept that people we know, trust and love are capable of and can be responsible for acts of sexual violence – towards ourselves and towards others – and why it is essential that we learn to accept this fact in order to move forward on this issue as individuals and as a society.
They discuss the need for workplace guidelines around sexual violence and how a growing awareness and more open conversation might lead to more healing interventions for people who are at risk of perpetrating, and a recognition of the need for perpetrator pain and rage to also be processed.
“The tool that I have is my craft, is theatre making, and so the thing that I feel that I can do which is most useful in terms of activism is to make art about it.” ~Imogen Butler-Cole
To find out more about Imogen, visit www.imogenbutler-cole.co.uk
To connect or work with Amisha Ghadiali, visit www.amisha.co.uk
Resources from this episode:
If you have been triggered by this conversation and need to talk to somebody, please call:
- 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247
- the Rape Crisis national freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year)