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Review: Performance



The Arches, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

HOW would you define a 'feminine' sport? There's the rub that has been chafing at the imagination - and the long, meticulous researches - behind this collaboration between A Moment's Peace and the Women's Creative Company. The production, supported by the Arches and Festival 2014, doesn't nit-pick over definitions: instead Endurance pokes fun at those who still think in those blinkered terms while celebrating the women who, across decades of Commonwealth Games activity, have poured their aspirations into achieving a level playing field for all athletes regardless of race, background, gender.

In part, this is a potted history of the Games, stretching back to 1930 when the politics of the empire were still in play. However the 17 women who come on-stage focused their researches on the presence - or more often - the absence of women. In truth, some stories of forgotten talents triumphing in the face of personal hardship and prejudice could just as easily apply to men - the history of the Games is woven with individuals who gained victory then faded out of sight. What surfaces throughout, with biting effect, is the sexist and dismissive attitudes encountered by women.

The indignities of intrusive medical examinations to confirm gender, the tendency by male commentators to refer to 'girls' and concentrate on a woman's looks, not her sporting ability.

Recordings, projections and film footage bring some of those resolute contenders who made weightlifting, shot putting, shooting and the pentathlon into 'feminine' sports into the Endurance mix of spoken text and movement. The sheer force of conviction that powers through the ensemble show of humour, respect, regret and simmering outrage is a reminder of equality-races still to be run and won.

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