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What it means to be a woman on the stage

THE CIRCLE: BJ Long created her one-woman show to tap into female energy.
THE CIRCLE: BJ Long created her one-woman show to tap into female energy. Jack Lawrie

A ONE-WOMAN show intended to provide a place of solace and safety for women proved to be a success in Monto.

"I Am a Circle” began as a concept created by performer Barbara-Jone Long (or "BJ Long”) intended to reach out to women who felt isolated and troubled.

Mrs Long, who has a storied history as a performer with the South Australian Theatre Company and alumni of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, learned from first-hand experience that it was harder for women to find roles as they got older.

She became fascinated by women's mythology and cultural history, which she had previously viewed only from a patriarchal standpoint.

"I thought 'I could write a play about this and bring in the process of what a woman goes through in her life and weave that amongst the story of the maiden, the mother and the crone,” Mrs Long said.

"I've written the exact kind of work I'd like to do as a performer, but would never be given as an actor because there isn't availability for those roles.”

The maiden, the mother and the crone is a concept held over several mythologies depicting the three stages of a woman's life, in the form of a trio of goddesses.

In "I Am a Circle”, the three women live underneath Yggdrasil, the dying World Tree and must overcome their interpersonal conflicts to restore life to the world.

"It's a metaphor for what's happening to Mother Earth in the present day, and how women are treated,” Long said.

The three-goddess trope is also represented in the audience participation; women enter the room in order of age (the crones, meaning the eldest come in first) and sit down in a circle together.

Circles are another recurrent theme, representing unity and safety.

The performance and workshop was held over the weekend at Monto's Landcare building and was exclusively for women to attend.

According to Long, the audience was very attentive.

"Sometimes people are a little bit frightened to laugh, particularly in the country because they're not exposed to theatre the same way,” Mrs Long said.

"They really got it here, they were really listening.”

One young lady who attended, Jasmena Johnston, said she really didn't know what to expect.

"I came in not knowing much, but it turned out to be really interesting,” Miss Johnston said.

Many of the women who attended were impressed with Long's ability to carry a solo performance for an hour and a half.

"Her concentration and focus, as well as her confidence was amazing,” Sascha Dowling said.

The performance was followed by a workshop, where Long used her communicative skills to help women open up to each other.

Melissa Dowling, who helped organised the event was thrilled at the turnout and support for the performance, and the workshop.

"I was extremely pleased that such a wide spectrum of ages of women across several generations embraced the unknown and came to the performance,” Mrs Dowling said.

At the end of the month, BJ long will go overseas to travel America and Canada.

Afterward, she will appear at the Goddess Spirit Rising Conference in Los Angeles and the Goddess Conference Australia in Sydney.


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