Recipe For REVOLT: “S.C.U.M. Manifesto” by Valerie Solanas

In anticipation of REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN., Soho Rep. asked playwright Alice Birch about art pieces that inspired her play. Alice came back to us with a formidable list of plays, photography, feminist essays, and poetry that have all been an influence on this piece of writing.

In a series we are calling “Recipes for REVOLT”, we will be delving a bit deeper into these art pieces to give you a sense of where this extraordinary play sprung.

“I wanted to read a big range of feminist texts. I had never heard of Valerie Solanas, or of this book and found this little black copy in the middle of the mostly pink gender section at a bookshop in London. It’s a difficult read. It’s a violent, spitting rage of a thing, nihilistic, funny, bold and incredibly loud. I’ve never read a text that is so absolutely its own thing. It comes with huge cult status (it seems funny to me now that I hadn’t heard of it) and is difficult to read without that baggage. It’s dismissed as incoherent ravings of a mentally ill woman by many, and held up as the most articulate, desperate call to arms by others. I was deeply moved by its sense of urgency and its form and it was fundamental in my considering what kind of play I might write. I became fascinated by the idea of writing a manifesto. I wanted to make something that had as much guts and belly and heart as Solanas had put into her text.” – Alice Birch on S.C.U.M. Manifesto
“SCUM will become members of the unwork force, the fuck-up force; they will get jobs of various kinds and unwork… SCUM office and factory workers, in addition to fucking up their work, will secretly destroy equipment. SCUM will unwork at a job until fired, then get a new job to unwork at…
…Dropping out is not the answer; fucking-up is…
 … those females least embedded in the male `Culture’, the least nice, those crass and simple souls who reduce fucking to fucking, who are too childish for the grown-up world of suburbs, mortgages, mops and baby shit, too selfish to raise kids and husbands, too uncivilized to give a shit for anyones opinion of them, too arrogant to respect Daddy, the `Greats’ or the deep wisdom of the Ancients, who trust only their own animal, gutter instincts, who equate Culture with chicks, whose sole diversion is prowling for emotional thrills and excitement, who are given to disgusting, nasty upsetting `scenes’, hateful, violent bitches given to slamming those who unduly irritate them in the teeth, who’d sink a shiv into a man’s chest or ram an icepick up his asshole as soon as look at him, if they knew they could get away with it, in short, those who, by the standards of our `culture’ are SCUM… these females are cool and relatively cerebral and skirting asexuality…
… Unhampered by propriety, niceness, discretion, public opinion, `morals’, the respect of assholes, always funky, dirty, low-down SCUM gets around… and around and around… they’ve seen the whole show — every bit of it — the fucking scene, the dyke scene — they’ve covered the whole waterfront, been under every dock and pier — the peter pier, the pussy pier… you’ve got to go through a lot of sex to get to anti-sex, and SCUM’s been through it all, and they’re now ready for a new show; they want to crawl out from other the dock, move, take off, sink out. But SCUM doesn’t yet prevail; SCUM’s still in the gutter of our `society’, which, if it’s not deflected from its present course and if the Bomb doesn’t drop on it, will hump itself to death.” — S.C.U.M. Manifesto by Valerie Solanas

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