Sarah Bowman on “Curtain Call”

Today, #Feminism’s own “Curtain Call” designer, Sarah Bowman, tells us a little about her vision for the game.

“Curtain Call” is based on my reflections on the complex and often contradictory relationship between female musicians, their fans, and the gatekeepers who have control over the way they are portrayed and distributed in the media. I have followed the careers of women like Tori Amos, Amanda Palmer, and Lady Gaga, each of whom have dealt with intense scrutiny and discrimination from their labels and fans alike at various times in their lives and are brave enough to speak out about it.

I wanted to create a scenario that explores the way that women in the spotlight have to present themselves at various phases in their lives in order to remain relevant, how dependent they are upon the love of their supporters, and how crushing it can be when their bodies and music are scrutinized publicly.

The scenes are inspired by moments in Tori Amos’ career, but can also represent the ways in which women as a whole feel pressured by society to maintain the beauty ideal and their status as objects of desire. These issues are amplified by the spotlight of celebrity. These women develop a symbiotic relationship with their fans, upon whom they come to depend to help fuel their projects. However, the more an artist evolves, the more fans tend to react negatively, as they become attached to the musician during a particular phase in her life. They often want her to remain static, beautiful, desirable, and young indefinitely. They want her to pour her heart out in the way they prefer, not the way that best resonates with her during that phase. I think many women can relate to these pressures.

Have you played “Curtain Call”? Share your experiences in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Sarah Bowman on “Curtain Call”

  1. olepeder says:

    I didn’t know much about Amos, personally, but I liked the brief story we told. Total game-time, including set-up, was 45 mins. I was a bit moved by the game. I’m fascinated (but not surprised) how simple, barebones structures like these can deliver such a punch. I think I would have liked to see some more positive aspects of being a well-known pop artist for several years as well, but understand the reasoning behind narrowing it down given time/space constraints. The songs chosen worked well to set the mood.

    I’m fond of the nano/short-game format, but it’s relatively rare I actually play those games. I’ve dabbled a bit with these kinds of experiments as a writer, for several years.
    I was surprised with how well the “fans” worked, because I’ve often experienced “shadow-characters” as a bit of a distraction in freeforms. We played it the way suggested in the booklet, directing small comments directly at the musician character, not conversing (much?) among ourselves. I think all players had a fairly good sense of timing. Maybe this method would need to be workshopped a bit with some groups (we didn’t, it was just explained pre-game).

    I think it would also be interesting, as a hack (it works fine the way it’s written), to structure the narrative *either* closer to Amos’ real life & career *or* separating it further (not naming her, but still using her music, for instance).

    (I played the game at a monthly event in Oslo called “Blackbox Deichman”, in addition to “First Date” from the same anthology. I wrote the above on my FB page a while back, and have mostly just copy-pasted it here, with some small edits).

    Like

  2. guyintheblackhat says:

    We just had an amazing experience with this game at Chase Public in Cincinnati. We watched the media skewer a sensitive musician over generations.

    Like

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