People say that prostitution is ‘the oldest profession’ and treat it as inevitable: men will always want to pay for sex, women will always have to acquiesce. We’re asked to treat sex like any other commodity, an emotionless product that can be bought and sold. Even the term ‘sex workers’ is designed to remove the sting of guilt; after all, it is just work – and we all have to work. We do not hear the human stories.
But with the revitalisation of feminism in recent years, and thanks to powerful books like Kat Banyard’s Pimp State, people are starting – slowly – to realise there is more to prostitution than a harmless financial transaction. The Game, from Dublin’s THEATREclub, is part of that movement. Using real-life testimony from women who have been, or currently are, sex workers, it uncovers the consequences of prostitution.
What is really clever about The Game is that it doesn’t just tell it from a female perspective. Instead, five male volunteers are asked to take part in each show, responding to questions, tasks and situations without a script. By doing this it switches men from passive consumers to active participants in the outcomes of prostitution.
Shows like The Game are why we appreciate SICK! Festival so much. It is theatre that makes you think, and that can help make the world a better and more understanding place.