A group of women players I jam with were given the suggestion “rock band” in the last class. They decided to do the role of band members as men.
In another scene, a married couple are having dinner of an evening and discussing their days. The male is a judge and the woman stays home and looks after the kids.
Later, a drunk piano player’s wife enters the room and is immediately endowed with the characteristics of being a floozy and prostitute.
When improvising I do think it’s important to play to characteristics and to recognize archetypes, but I’ve noticed that women are given derogatory or subordinate, low status roles more often than not. Or, when choosing
a certain type of character, such as a lawyer or a baseball coach, they will choose to play it as a man.
Why couldn’t the band members be women? Why was the male a judge and the woman a stay-at-home mum? Why was the woman in the scene automatically a floozy?
Now, the people in my class are not sexist, and would never speak or act in a derogatory way towards women in real life. And it’s worth noting these character choices were made by both the guys and girls in the class. But I do think there’s an underlying lack of respect for women characters in general in my local improv scene.
There are two reasons why this should change.
Firstly, not respecting women characters reinforces stereo types in real life. Why propagate a shitty stereotype?
Secondly, the scenes will be more interesting without leaning on that predictable flow. Breaking that mold would likely result in cooler scenes and characters with more depth.
I think it’s worth keeping in mind.
Thanks to my awesome teacher, Pete Lead for bringing this to my attention.