Dramatisoija Jo Cliffordin sanat Humisevan harjun käsiohjelmaan
I couldn’t read this book when I was young.
It repulsed me.
Quite early on in my playwriting career, it was suggested I dramatise it; and again I couldn’t. I just couldn’t connect with it.
Ten years later I was commissioned to write the play at a time when I couldn’t afford to refuse.
So I had to read the book. I would say I fell in love with it, only that sounds like too soft and gentle a phrase to describe the fierce passion I felt for it.
There’s nothing soft or gentle about this book. Just like there’s nothing soft or gentle about the harsh and unforgiving landscape in which it is set, or the cruelties and injustice of the society in which Bronte lived.
It’s an outsider’s view of a cruel world: unflinching, so courageously honest, refusing to turn away from the horrors and the wild joys of the world she experienced.
As a trans woman, I totally related to Bronte, the outsider and the rebel, sharing her unique experience of the world with fierce shamelessness.
She taught me I didn’t have to ingratiate to try to make sure an audience liked me.
That was play number #36 in my catalogue; and now, 24 years later, after writing play #100, as the injustice and inequality of the world worsens and the climate crisis begins to engulf us, I look back on my sister Bronte and my former self with a deeper love and respect.
Bronte was aware that the massive technological changes that we now call “The Industrial Revolution” were enriching the few at the expense of the many and making it apparent that the conditions under which women were expected to live in her time were intolerable and inhumane.
All that is reflected in her book, and in my play too. I was aware then, and more painfully aware now, that our understandings of what it means to be a woman, and what it needs to be a man are undergoing a profound change; even as rampant capitalism threatens all our well being and the survival of the planet herself.
Like Bronte, we need the courage to look without flinching: because we need to find in ourselves the strength to truly see.
And then we can maybe find the path towards making the changes that we need…