Broken window theory is the idea that a building, for example, with something small wrong like one broken window is likely to encourage further vandalism and other unlawful acts. The spark for Caitlin Ince’s Broken Window comes from Caitlin Moran’s (in How To Be a Woman) who reckons broken window theory can be applied to women in society right now. Unhelpfully, her quote on this is a long one, and involving a colorful squatters/women metaphor, so I won’t include it here, but basically – if small incidents of sexism are allowed to happen, it opens the door wide for more.
So, Ince sets out to explore this – to find out if our social media age is making life easier or harder for teenage girls today, and what’s really going on with this whole every day sexism lark anyway. She wants to talk to girls to find out what it means to be young and female at the moment – and she decides it will be a good project for a play.
Interviews with the girls she manages find, performed verbatim and set to songs scored and accompanied by Matthew White’s jaunty piano, form the backbone of this piece. We meet Florence, who plays ladies football but would rather not. Antonia from Glasgow, worried about her exams and exasperated with the substandard education available to her. Danielle, 18, whose peers are all incredibly body conscious. Lucy from Cardiff, Hattie from Bristol, each girl with a different story, different problems, concerns, outlooks and little wisdoms.
Some of the accents are be a little shaky, some of the songs feel a little irrelevant and repetitive but it’s an emotional performance from Ince, and Broken Windows is at any rate the beginning of a thought provoking piece. It prompts me to reflect on my role models, my insecurities and how much they are tied up with pop culture and the world around us.
We don’t really reach a definite conclusion about girls, pop culture, sexism and society. However, the real poignancy is Caitlin’s own journey, as those interviewed are linked together in the context of her life. Through all of these conversations, it seems Caitlin find her own voice.
Broken Windows is playing at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) from 15-17, 19-31 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information, visit the festival website.