Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi


First staged as Dead Fish (1976) Edinburgh Festival; then Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi (1976) West End, London

Since the first productions of Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi at Edinburgh, Hampstead and the West End in the 1970s, the play has been performed in many languages.  Sometime recently I was asked to revise the text.  It was interesting to compare differences in attitudes between the 1970s and the 1990s.  We all know that there has been a backlash against feminism.  Times move on, a new generation takes for granted freedoms wrested for them by their parents.  Some social changes have pervaded society over time by agreement.  So that it is a shock to see condescending and dismissive attitudes to women in old films that would be unthinkable now.

       The 1970s were noisy; and combative.  Men felt betrayed by the new, often aggressive independence of women.  Traditionally, a man's role was to work, and support his family.  He was the boss, the protector, commanding respect for responsibilities and loss of personal freedom.

       All that, however, began to change 100 years ago when women's nimble fingers invaded mass production and office work.  Two world wars showed that women could do most of men's jobs, sometimes even better.  From the 70s onwards, rivalry for jobs between men and women became pronounced.  The term "house-husband" came into being.

       Men have lost the place they have held from the emergence of homo sapiens -a cosmic upheaval.  Perhaps it is time to reflect.  Do we need the stress, competition, the long hours of demanding work?  How many people are in the jobs of their choice, live the way they would wish?  And what is it all for?  Do we Need so many gadgets - do we need to turn money round eight times a year to survive as the finance people dictate?

       And who wins by the demolition of the traditional family?  The family can be inadequate, stifling, despotic (though never as abusive to children as substitute support).  But it provides stability, the first laboratory for life.  Like democracy, it is far from ideal.  And we still haven't found anything better.  Children in care, from single parent homes do less well.  Perhaps we need to judge society by how the vulnerable - the aged and the children fare.  Feminism has brought, in many ways, a better deal for Mum.  But at the expense of Dad?  The replacement of one imbalance by another needs attention.

                                                                                                                                   Pam Gems