I’m Mean, I am

Yael Efrati

As with most of her pieces to date, Yasmeen Godder is once again “I’m Mean, I am” about gender issues. Like some of her past works, the current one deals with issues of femininity, but this time the concept is examined through mainly stereotypical perceptions of masculinity. The kind that considers power in general and the physical manifestation of masculinity; the kind that seeks to control and enforces mastery in a chauvinistic manner, taking the upper manipulative hand.
Thus, Godder enters the stage proudly adorned in an impressive lone mask with a set of sharp-toothed jaws and a fiery red mane, and presents her opening lines. Later it will become clear, like in a movie script interwoven with great life dramas, that the story is more complex. It happens, for instance, in the first part of the show when Godder rips off the mask and with a casual gesture flings it on the chair next to her. Suddenly the prop seems weak, almost pathetic, and yet when brought back as the hero of a later power scene it seems different again. From the side, for example, the lion king looks like a creature that can for a moment step outside itself and even refer to its character in self irony, appearing even to be amusing itself.
At “Two Playful Pink” another of Godder’s works built as a duet between two women in a complex relationship, femininity is examined on an imaginary continuum that exposes the gap between the socially accepted and free will, or as a fantasy to be fulfilled in disregard of the consequences. In this excellent work, previously staged three years ago, entertaining expressions are combined with disturbing massages, and here too Godder uses physical parts symbolically.
The discovery process and its results. In “I’m Mean, I am” Godder uses a mask for the first time in attempt to provide another element to the discovery process and its results. Like the name of the show which hints at some privet secret, the choreography demands we examine the undisclosed, to expose what is hidden in ourselves and simultaneously dare to connect to some kind of innocence, memories or to a movie we once saw that, despite its shallowness or simplicity, left an impression on us. Even when she leaves “her” mask on the chair, the thin dancer, clad in tight sweat-pants and a small tank top that exposes her strong arms and defined shoulders, remains a roaring, jaw-exposing lion virtuoso who lexes her muscles like a proud weight-lifter in the gym. In her past works, Godder has been concerned with the extreme shifts from fantasy to reality and the constant breaking of the boundaries between them. In “Sudden Birds”, for instance, Godder used four dancers draped in black in a glaring white space lacking context of place and time, to test the found and the familiar, and to break out with a great shuddering pain. Godder placed the dancers very close to audience on the same level n contradiction to theatre norms, to raise skepticism about the accepted placement and to erase the boundaries that try to define the predictable order of things. Godder’s current piece deals with the issue of define territory through the means of the set, which is a replication of the dance group’s rehearsal room at the local community center. The small structure is a kind of a patio that enables one to exit to the outside while the see-though walls expose the going-on within, but which is later revealed as a blocked-off, impenetrable space. With the finest attention to detail, the set is built as a seemingly ordered world but in which there are no rules and things happen randomly, instinctively and extremely; the kind that draws the audience into a story made up of unearthing moments. The dancers – Godder, Maya Weinberg, Dana Yahalomi and Eran Shanny – dance throughout the show seemingly testing the possibility of total collapse every step they take. With every hanging step they seek to touch the mythical and entrap the audience.