This isn’t child’s play, this is roller derby; a world of women, a world of different rules, of pushing, shoving, falling down and getting up again.
Four woman, all clad in skates, pads and helmets explain the rules, then rip it up on the BAC’s parquet floor for an hour of wilful, playful unleashing. All with buckets of energy, yells of excitement and brows of sweat.
Heavy on skating, ‘Skate Hard, Turn Left’ also flirts with social and political commentary. The girls, who skate together, also relay tales of the world outside the sports hall. Tales of skipping town, of motherhood, of love and of friendship play out on skates. It’s delightful to see how they bring the physicality of each character to life in the stops, states and swoops the skates allow them. Can you imagine your boss on roller skates? These girls can, to hilarious effect.
Can you imagine your boss on roller skates? These girls can, to hilarious effect.
The reasons behind why women can’t just get on with it like their male counterparts are played out in these scenarios, and ring very close to home. Is it any wonder women still have it so tough in sport? Issues like unequal responsibility for childcare are ebbing away only very slowly, and even debate around women’s temperaments, such as the Serena Williams cartoon and subsequent backlash earlier this year, still continues.
You’re bound to see feelings you recognise flow from these feisty, eight wheeled women. In roller derby, they lose themselves in a world where the normal rules don’t apply. It’s still, they tell us, a mostly female, community run and self funded amateur (“that means no one gets paid”). The importance of female spaces like these is evident as we watch the women work together, play together and help each other up. The narrative is episodical and does not settle at a fixed point. There is no victory, yet, for these women or their sport – but the race is on.
There is no victory, yet, for these women or their sport.
The piece, a bit like the sport, is evidently in its early, doggedly determined stages and I can see the potential for some of these sketches to be expanded out into a wider narrative that lets us get to know each skater a little better. But it’s serious fun, and you’ll want to play!