DEFYING GENDERED SUBJECTIVITIES
We celebrate performance artist Shannon Misso for her powerful comeback in the year 2018 with a vision to question the political and social position of women. Shannon’s directorial debut of critical acclaim ‘The Pillowman’ staged in July 2018 and her audacious performance as the first stand up comedian in the politically charged series of ‘Freddy!', directed by Feroze Kamardeen staged in October this year succinctly comments on the woman and her role in a patriarchal society that has been reified and reproduced over centuries. As a director and actress, Shannon’s theatrical engagements have proved in exemplifying the artist’s scrupulous approach to feminist theatre.
Shannon began her journey in theatre as a student performing regularly in school productions and annual inter-school Shakespeare Drama Competitions. In 2005, she was recognized as the Best Actress in the competition for her role as Isabella in ‘Measure for Measure’, leading to a role in mainstream theatre as Marissa in Feroze Kamardeen’s ‘Venice’ (2006). Soon after leaving school, Shannon experimented with the genre of musicals with the Workshop Players, exploring a multi-dimensional arena of her talents in singing, dancing and acting in ‘Blood Brothers’ (2007). Working with the Royal College Old Boys’ Union in 2010, Shannon played Emilia in a production of ‘Othello’.
Shannon considers herself a ‘practical feminist’ taking feasible measures to question society’s reiterated, strictly defined rules for women. It is with this approach that she took up the role of the first female comedian of Feroze Kamardeen's ‘Freddy 3: a New Hope’. Shannon performed her role seamlessly with precision, deriving thought-provoking humour from the subordinate position a woman occupies in the Sri Lankan patriarchal world of politics. The gender dichotomy that defines the lives of many women in the local context in terms of appearance was one of the key aspects Shannon shed light on during her performance, challenging the stereotypes of modesty, emotionality and beauty as the expected virtues of females. We recognize this performance by Shannon to be one of her seminal work, as it questioned the role of women in a political space where active female representation and participation is still a challenge. Shannon believes that theatre has been, and still is one of the prolific means of contesting the gendered subjectivity of the woman of which her BA in English from the University of Colombo helped give form in presenting her perspective, she stated.
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