Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate said she’s been contemplating her mortality lately, and she has a few things to get off her chest before shuffling off this mortal coil.
For the past year and a half, Norgate has been working on her newest major work: Fem Noir, a grim yet comedic multimedia slideshow presentation featuring images, music and videos that delve into 2,500 years of sexism and misogyny. She describes it as “my contribution to the dialogue around #MeToo.”
“I’m turning 70 in February and I thought, ‘I don’t know how long I have left … while I still have all my faculties and the capacity to do this, I would like to make a contribution and use my voice,’” Norgate said.
Following a successful, sold-out debut at the Roxy Theatre on Gabriola, Norgate is bringing Fem Noir to Nanaimo’s Unitarian Hall on Nov. 14. She’s invited gender studies instructors from VIU and said there may be some informal discussion. The event will also be a fundraiser for Haven Society, the Nanaimo charity that provides support for victims of domestic abuse.
Norgate said her Gabriola audience called Fem Noir “hilarious, sobering, chilling, gut-wrenching and riveting,” which was exactly what she was hoping for. She said the content is disturbing, but she wants her audience to be disturbed. She added that the humour helps and that her satirical skits felt redemptive and empowering.
“I’m very pleased with the response,” she said. “People laughed because it is funny, but they also got it. It is incredibly dark and they appreciated the humour because it made it easier to sit through the stuff that was difficult.”
Norgate said some women in the audience asked her why the show provides no answers, but she said she doesn’t have the answers. She said despite the efforts of groups investigating sexual inequality since the seventies, “We haven’t achieved the things we were hoping to achieve, like equality, for example, and certainly we haven’t achieved physical safety.”
“All I want, frankly, is for us to wake up to the question and ask the question because we’re not even asking. We’re not even noticing,” she said. “So the first step, I think, is to wake up to the reality and stop calling this a ‘post-feminist world,’ then maybe we can do something. But we’re all asleep.”
WHAT’S ON … Sheila Norgate presents Fem Noir at Unitarian Hall, 595 Townsite Rd., on Thursday, Nov. 14. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30. Tickets $20 available online.