Here are my professional recommendations for Series 2 of Gentleman Jack.
There are 2 things I want to see from Sally Wainwright with the script in Series 2.
- I want to see a fuller and more complete picture of Anne Lister's life. I want to see the storyline open up wider than being about Anne Lister's lesbian encounters and her business activities. She was also an avid walker and a pioneering mountaineer and climber. I want to see more about her adventures, studies, mountaineering and travelling.
- Anne's diaries are central to the story. She was an avid writer, documenting her life in detail. I want to see more private moments of Anne reflecting and writing in her diary and the storytelling that goes along with that. By showing us this, we will get a real insight into how and what she thinks; about herself and others. In opening up her diaries in this way, we will also get an insight into how Anne talked about her sexuality: the words and the phrases she used. There was no language for 'lesbian sexuality' back then. As a modern day lesbian, I want to know how she felt about it and how she talked about it.
Characterisation of Anne Lister and Ann Walker Using Mind-Body Types
Here are my recommendations for the characterisation of Anne Lister and Ann Walker.
I want to see Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle go deeper into their characterisation, using mind-body types. This will bring more authenticity to their characters.
I'll give a brief introduction to mind-body types, in case you haven't come across them before.
There are 3 mind-body types. You are born with a unique ratio of these 3 mind-body types, as defined by Ayurveda. They come together differently in each one of us and it is this unique combination that makes you who you are. The unique ratio is your 'natural state' or what you are born with. This defines your appearance (hair, eye colour etc), the way you move, your posture, your temperament, your personality and characteristics, your mannerisms, gestures, thought patterns, physical and mental ailments and so much more.
Anne Lister is a Pitta mind-body type. Suranne played the physical elements of the Pitta type well (like the stride, speech), but didn't pay attention to the emotional and mental side of her mind-body type. In Series 1, we see her alternating between a Vata/Kapha mix when it comes to the emotional and mental aspects of Anne. In Series 2, we need to see more of the Pitta emotional and mental qualities of Anne Lister.
Ann Walker is a Vata mind-body type. Sophie portrayed Ann's mental state really well, based on her mind-body type. In Series 2 I want to see her work on the physicality of the character, with the Vata quirks and the emotional flightiness of the Vata mind-body type.
Without this knowledge of mind-body types there was something missing for me in Series 1.
Characterising using the mind-body types will give Suranne and Sophie a deeper understanding of their characters; how they think, feel and behave.
Combine that with an understanding of the impact of the social and cultural conditioning Anne and Ann faced in their lives and they will have nailed it.
All of this influences who they are, how they interact with lovers, their family dynamics and how they present themselves to the outside world.
More detailed information on the mind-body types of Anne Lister and Ann Walker can be found in the Further Reading section below.
Anne Lister and Ann Walker's Relationship
I have 4 things to recommend for Anne Lister and Ann Walker's relationship.
- In Series 1, we did not see an accurate portrayal of a Pitta-Vata relationship. In Series 2, there needs to be more understanding of how these mind-body types interact together in a relationship. In essence, it is a fire and air relationship. I want to see this! A Pitta-Vata relationship changes over time, from the early days of dating, through to a more serious committed relationship.
How they interact together, their level of connection and conversations, how they experience sexual intimacy and their expectations of each other will change dramatically when they are married and as they spend more time together. I want to see this change in behaviour and the power dynamic that emerges as a result of that.
In Series 2, I want to see a true representation of a Pitta-Vata relationship and how that plays out over time.
- Anne Lister and Ann Walker have very different emotional needs, as a result of their mind-body types. I want to see these differences and how that changes the dynamic of the relationship.
- How does Ann Walker interact socially with Anne Lister? A lack of public displays of affection and affection in the home from Ann Walker will affect Anne Lister. It will be felt as a rejection, resulting in a change in dynamics at home. Lister will likely shut down, be angry and distance herself. I want to see this dynamic.
- And lastly, the relationship shouldn't be overly romanticised. I feel it has been in Series 1.
- In Series 1, watching Anne Lister interacting in the bedroom felt almost textbook. In Series 2, I want to see a shift from a technical level of intimacy to a tender and sensual level of intimacy. A move from the mechanical to the meaningful is essential and will ensure authenticity in the intimate scenes.
- Anne Lister loved her physical senses being aroused in the bedroom. We need to see this.
- More awareness is needed of what goes on in a Pitta-Vata same-sex couples' bedroom.
- From Suranne, I want to see the level of intimacy that a Pitta type would exude in the bedroom.
Lastly, here are my recommendations around Mental Health.
In Series 2, I want to see a deeper understanding of the impact of the social and cultural conditioning Anne Lister would have experienced at school and in her local community. This affected how she projected herself to the world – in her behaviours and actions. Whilst a very strong character, the impact of all the judgements and abuse was evident.
From Suranne, I want to see her fully embody the social and cultural conditioning Anne Lister faced over the years. Show us the hurt, rejection, grief and loneliness Anne feels, both with her being a lesbian but also being a strong, bold, outspoken character that rejected gender norms. I want to see the profound impact her lovers rejecting her in favour of marrying men had on her. We cannot underestimate this and ignore it. And I want to see her interacting with others based on her mind-body type – not stereotypes. I want to see the impact all of this had on Anne's mental health and mindset.
From Sophie, I want to see the sacrifices Ann Walker made for Anne Lister and the impact this has on her mental and physical health. I want to see how Ann's relationship with her family changes and how her status in society changes after her marriage.
From both Suranne and Sophie, I want to see the impact of the intense bullying, judgements and abuse that they both faced from the local community.
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About Gina Battye
Gina Battye is a world-renowned LGBT+ Coordinator and Authenticity Director for film, television, theatre and radio as well as an advisor for the global press, Fortune 500s + Leading Global Organisations.
In the last four years, Gina has been called on to advise and consult on best practice for heterosexual actors playing LGBT+ characters and to create scenes involving LGBT+ relationships to ensure authentic delivery in film, TV, theatre and radio.
Gina created the Playing It Gay Guidelines which are being used by straight actors playing gay characters around the world.
Watching Gina at work is mesmerising. Working with actors, directors, celebrities and public figures, Gina has the rare ability to electrify everyone on set whilst delivering original and useful insights that lead to characters blossoming and stepping into their Authentic Self.
Gina specialises in creating authentic gay/lesbian characters (using mind-body types), LGBT+ relationships and intimacy, being your Authentic Self, LGBT+ mindset and self-help.
Find out more about Gina and her work at www.ginabattye.com/media and chat with her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.