Creator: Carolyn Defrin
To quote directly from one of the 28 short films that forms Carolyn Defrin’s 28 Days Greater, this project inspired by the menstrual cycle is not ‘all blood and vaginas’. Motivated by her own experience of menstruation and the discovery of literature surrounding menstrual power, Defrin sets out to portray the menstrual cycle in a new way via artistic expression.
28 Days Greater is one of the offerings from Calm Down, Dear (Camden People’s Theatre critically acclaimed feminism festival back in action for 2021 after its 2020 cancellation). This three-week festival promises to ‘destroy the patriarchy in three weeks flat – or your money back’, focusing on theatre relating to the female experience and gender equality.
Using audio-visual imagery, music, text and the art of conversation, Defrin’s 28 Days Greater is a collection of 28 short films to celebrate the menstrual cycle. Each film is a matter of minutes long (the total run time of all 28 is around 45 minutes). The combination of visuals works well to convey the myriad of sentiments felt during the different stages throughout a menstrual cycle: from joy and energy to remorse and rage. Defrin succeeds in presenting and articulating a rollercoaster of emotions and taking the audience along for the ride. Some of the films are more abstract, with the colour red subtly weaving its way through many as a theme e.g. with and for you; depicting the detangling of red yarn with a meditative trance-like quality. Others contain more instantly recognisable and relatable motifs such as eat the whole thing where a woman devours the contents of her fridge and I feel fantastic ; a kitsch pop song, an ode to the hormonal high felt at a certain point during the cycle.
28 Days Greater is informative as well as artistic. The film period piece is memorable for this reason; a candid intergenerational conversation over a meal which delves into the way in which the menstrual cycle has been historically (and continually) linked with ideas of shame, imperfection and weakness in the eyes of the patriarchy. Particularly eye-opening are the ideas expressed by the older generation. In the past, they had not spoken openly around menstruation as it affirmed difference between men and women which they felt impeded the feminist struggle; to admit to pain was a weakness that could be used against them.
Ultimately, 28 Days Greater is a resistance against the narratives of shame and weakness associated with menstruation. The key takeaway is that in being more in tune with each step of the cycle, one can honour what the body needs and adjust expectations accordingly, which will lead to a more balance and healthier existence. Filmed and edited by Rosie Powell, audiences are able to watch each short film as they are released one day at a time from 1 July.
Available here between 1- 28 July 2021