Female Aggression & Theatre

Broadway World Interviews:
Voice-Box‘s Juliet Palmer talks Female Aggression and Theatre,
November 12, 2010.

By Kelly Cameron

​Voice-Box is being billed as a competitive concert in a boxing ring. Unique and ground-breaking this show is from the team behind the critically acclaimed Stitch and is a genre-crossing, interactive performance that will blow the lid off gender and power dynamics. The show seeks to combine boxing with the power of the singing voice. It unites the talents of choreographer Julia Aplin, writer Anna Chatterton and composer Juliet Palmer. Together they seek to defy assumptions about female aggression as they unveil the woman’s power to withstand blows and go beyond expectation.

BWW spoke with Juliet about what audiences can expect, and about her thoughts on the issue of female aggression:

This is the North American Premiere of VoiceBox, could you give us a rough idea of what audiences can expect?

Voice-Box takes the form of a fight night – but what those fights might be range from a tango to an operatic duel to. I don’t want to say too much as I would like there to be some surprises in the show.

This is a unique piece of theatre that combines boxing with the power of singing – one thing that people seem a bit unclear on is whether there is actual physical contact taking place in the show. Could you explain?

Last night I got hit in the head and I’m just the announcer! It was unexpected, but not out of the realm of possibility. So yes, there is physical contact in the show. Some of it involves free-form sparring, other contact is more choreographed, but inspired by the technique and form of boxing.

What types of singing can be expected in the show?

The singers are an incredibly talented bunch whose experience embraces gospel, R+B, opera, early music, throat singing, free improv and jazz. I try to draw on this richness in the music I’ve created for them – from a full-throttle operatic sound to gutteral chanting.

Finally, the show states that it “defies assumptions about female aggression” What does that mean to you? What kinds of assumptions are tackled?

In researching the world of boxing we learned some pretty provocative things. There’s a tendency to think of women as victims of violence, but there’s strong evidence that women can be as aggressive and violent as men. For instance, the rate of domestic violence in lesbian relationships is not significantly different from that in straight relationships. What happens when we ignore this potential in women? It seems that it’s often children who then become victims of female aggression. How does boxing fit into this picture? I think that giving women a space and a container for their violent or aggressive impulses both empowers women to experience their own strength and to understand how to channel it positively.