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On Sleeping Beauty, the Bourne Identity and Geometricity*

It’s Christmas… time for homecoming stories.

Lanky boys return from university with bags of washing and stories of all night drinking sessions, or the miracle of passed exams. Savvy girls back from the big smoke with too much eyeliner recount stories of sociopathic bosses or avaricious landlords. The identities in the stories differ, but the song remains the same…

“I beat the system. I won at life. Things were difficult but I triumphed.”

This is pretty much the crux of the hero’s story. In the west, because we’re liberated and evolved, the identity of the hero can be male or female, but the energy of the story is masculine – in other words, leave, fight, win, return in glory.

In recent years Matthew Bourne has transformed the ballet by telling a different story – the identity of the characters remains the same but the energy of the story is very feminine – in other words, emotion, sensuality and astonishing levels of creativity. His new version of Sleeping Beauty is currently playing at Sadler’s Wells. This is the story of a baby princess who is cursed by a bad fairy. On her 16th birthday she pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep for a hundred years. The spell can only be broken by the kiss of true love.

Meanwhile, up and down the country, children are re-enacting the story of a very different baby, in the nativity play. The energy of this story is supposed to be peace, love and goodwill to all men (women never seem to get a moment’s peace!). While the children are happily dancing around with a tea towel on their head, their mothers are trying to subdue their more masculine bias. Their identity is saying “Aw – how lovely. Look – I’ve brought mince pies” but their energy is saying “My daughter would make a MUCH better Mary. My child must WIN so I can bask in the glory of the You tube video.”

Back in the real world, the newspapers are currently featuring a more bleak story of a mother who drowned, along with her seven children while attempting to flee Syria. This brings up some very complex emotions. There’s the heartbreak of children dying, and there’s incomprehension as to why anyone would think having unprotected sex in a war zone is a good idea. The youngest child was 20 days old and the oldest nine – that’s seven children in nine years… IN A WAR ZONE.

Clearly Muslim women are under a spell. Far from being cast by a bad fairy, this is the spell of patriarchy. The spell of religion. Religion isn’t about peace, love and goodwill, it’s about identity, and that identity is very masculine. God is male, therefore he wants men to fight and women to bear endless amounts of children who can grow up to adore him.

The Dalai Lama once said that the world will be saved by the western woman. But the western woman is under a different spell – trying to stay young and beautiful while waiting for the kiss of true love (this involves a considerable amount of wasted energy, seeing as true love may take a hundred years to show up, and there’s only so much Botox a body can handle).

The world will be saved when women EVERYWHERE wake up from the spells they are under and become the creative beings they were meant to be… Not succumbing to the identity of the self-sacrificing mother, favored by a masculine God – there are far too many under resourced babies in the world. Not succumbing to the identity of the sleeping princess, saved by some dysfunctional Christian Grey sociopath (that story update certainly put feminism back a hundred years.)

We need to be more like Matthew Bourne and forget the way the story has always been told. Change the energy of the pattern.

The other big story in the newspapers is that of Donald Trump. He fancies himself as a traditional masculine hero. Fight the Muslims, keep women in their place (the kitchen or the bedroom) and win the prize – huge wealth and a sleeping princess wife (because you’d have to be dumb or on massive amounts of valium to marry Donald Trump.)

Far from appearing in a nativity scene or a ballet, Donald looks like he’s about to appear in a Pantomime… which is one traditional art form that doesn’t need an upgrade. Pantomimes are silly, uncool and funny. They bring families together in a shared experience. They are full of actors who sacrifice their Christmas holiday to bring laughter to what is sometimes a bleak world. They need our support and our appreciation. And because humor is always the best way to break a spell.

When it comes to pointing out the absurdity of religion, The Book of Mormon achieved more than any academic essay… because it’s both funny and creative. When it comes to pointing out the absurdity of stereotypical male/female roles, the current production of Wendy and Peter Pan wins on all levels. When it comes to waking up from the spell of patriarchy, you can’t beat an absurd re-write of an eighties song.

Wishing you all a happy holiday, filled with love, humour, absurdity, creativity… and the kiss of true love. And sending a New Year wish for the breaking of very bad spells.

*Geometricity – the power contained in the energy of a pattern



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