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My privilege

A year ago, when we in the editorial group started the work
on this issue of The Open Page, I had a certain theatre
colleague in mind. I wanted her to write about her work,
looking back at the performances that she had created,
especially since she no longer works in theatre. I had
expectations that this would be a useful experience for her,
and interesting for us readers. I wrote to her. She answered,
flatly refusing, claiming she did not have any reason to
write about struggle, whether it was a personal struggle or
in the profession. Struggle did not belong to her, it
belonged to other women in other countries, women living
with war, poverty and in harsh situations. My first reaction
was: she is right! It took two seconds. My second was: she is
wrong! To be more precise, I disagree with her, and I feel
that if I do not, my whole sense of dignity will collapse. As
if my life were not real, as if all of us don’t struggle? If I, a
western woman, cannot say I also struggle, how am I to be
fully responsible and own my life? Being responsible means
that I know that I am privileged. Knowing that I am privileged makes me act, instead of feeling shame or guilt. I can
use my privilege.
One of my privileges has been to examine other
notions. For example, the notion of Norway, my country of
birth, as good. In my recent performances I have worked
with the objective of questioning the notion that rich
always means good, democracy means fairness, education
means civilisation… The list could be long. Whatever
insight one might have, it doesn’t help if it is not used!
Sometimes a provocation gives you good thoughts!
I came to theatre primarily to find a place for myself.
For more than twenty years it has been one of my homes,
one of my wrestling places, a place where I can work and
contribute my best. Before entering the world of theatre I
was active in the Women’s Movement in the 1970s. The
discovery of a problem, the need to protest, do it immediately, gave instant relief and new energy from which to
continue. Being in a theatre group meant I had to transform
Geddy Aniksdal
My Privilege
Geddy Aniksdal in No Doctor for the Dead Photo: Danny Twang
OP9-01.QXD 26-11-2019 15:13 Page 113
this energy into my actor’s work, to my body
that wants to speak, jump, twist and turn,
and sing out loud – action. I know I struggle,
I know I am privileged.
What do I struggle with? That there is
always so much more to do! I struggle not to
feel bad about “hiding in the theatre”
instead of being in the streets protesting. I
struggle with conflicting opinions about
whether I should use my resources in the
official world of the theatre, big meetings,
big people, big pictures, big time, big
money! I am acutely aware that traditionally all the men are there and I would
welcome a change, either in the shape of
the meetings, or who takes part in them or
the topic covered. I could do this and no
one would hinder me. At the same time I
know from my own male colleagues how
utterly futile some of these meetings are,
and how tedious, the same thing over and
over again. Still, it is reported in the media,
written about in books and so on. Then
instead of thinking I should be there, as I
should be everywhere, and cannot, I can
thank them for doing this hard and often
boring work. I use my privilege of being able
to make theatre, make actions – being at the
heart of the theatre, whether that is seen or
not, historically speaking.
Within the theatre, I can also attack
injustice. To be a part of the Magdalena
Project is to be part of a permanent attack
against injustice, silencing and invisibility. I
would be the first to say that I wish there
was no need for the Magdalena Project. But
there is a strong need for the Magdalena
Project and I am privileged to be part of the
I struggle with my impatience, this
need, this urge to have it done, and to have
it done now! It is of no use to have discovered a new path for the whole group to walk
along if I am the only one to see it. The
others do not have my eyes, my background, my own very personal Molotov
cocktail that makes me “me”. I have to
realise I cannot go if the others can’t come,
and maybe they cannot walk that quickly or
want to go to other places. Changing or
finding new paths takes longer than I like to
accept. Changes are so slow that I might
not live to see them. Looking from my
grandmother’s life to my daughter’s, I get a
good glimpse of how different things are – a
good enough glimpse to make me continue
the privilege of struggling.