From book club to punk band, it’s a wild ride
There’s the stuff women talk about in real life, and then there’s what they talk about on film. The two are often drastically different.
That’s not the case with "Band Ladies," a comedic web series of six 10-minute episodes that premiered on Highball TV Wednesday night.
“We do well on the Bechdel test on this one,” laughs Dana Puddicombe, the show’s co-creator, co-producer, co-writer and star.
Puddicombe, who grew up in Roaches Line but now works in Toronto, is referring to a test that measures the representation of women in media.
“('Band Ladies') is just women talking about themselves, and what they want — it’s amazing that our ears aren’t tuned to it. It’s a new frequency.”
The series explores the lives of five women on the cusp of middle age who turn their boring book club into a punk band. However, when a video of their first impromptu, drunken performance makes the news, the women are forced to be bold, and dive into decisions they otherwise might never have made.
That idea of making a brave change is one of the takeaways Puddicombe hopes viewers think about after watching the show.
“We take ourselves so seriously, and we get so caught up in the path that we’re on, or the things that we can’t do, and this is just a really great scenario of something (that) happens, and these women have an opportunity where they’re like, ‘Well, we opened this door. Should we do it?’ And then they just do.
“And you see the ramifications of it. It’s not easy, and there’s certainly some consequences to all of that that we explore, but just open up the door, and go.”
It’s a mantra that Puddicombe seems to employ in her own life, as she describes her move to Toronto, and pursuing an acting career.
She recalls when she first made the move, and someone told her that she should work on diminishing her Newfoundland accent — advice she was never comfortable with, so Puddicombe instead decided to embrace it as a strength.
She said her Newfoundland upbringing influences her work, calling it “the beating heart of everything.”
“It’s definitely a huge part of my perspective. And, the arts — the way you grow up in this province surrounded by the type of work — especially when I was coming up, Codco, all of these things, and at such a time when there was such a resurgence of pride in Newfoundland.”
And every few years her work brings her home.
Puddicombe has appeared in "Republic of Doyle," and more recently, "Hudson and Rex," both filmed locally. She’s also worked on "Murdoch Mysteries," "Baroness Von Sketch" and "The Handmaid’s Tale," among others.
She said creating "Band Ladies" with co-creators Molly Flood and Kate Fenton was, in many ways, an introspective look at their own lives, and the experiences of their friends. As actors, they could see the kind of roles they were offered change as they aged.
“It’s almost like as you start to gain your voice as a woman, and start to make those decisions about what you want, and how you want to live your life, and you start to become clearer, then it’s almost like the microphone is pulled away from you in society a bit because you’re not a 20-year-old young thing looking at the world bright-eyed. And so, we wanted to play with that idea.”
Despite some of these more thoughtful themes, the show offers up hearty laughs, a wild ride and empowering punk songs. The lyrics were written by the women themselves, and the show’s album, “Angry All the Time,” is available on iTunes and Spotify.
“Hopefully it’ll inspire people to throw some paint at the wall, and just see what happens,” says Puddicombe.