On Thursday evening I attended the press night of “Britain’s original and best festival of innovative feminist theatre“. Now in its 4th year the festival is growing and promises a “scintillating line-up including porn, pole dancing, power dressing… and a line up of feminist with penises“. Being a woman, a feminist and a lover of arts and theatre I naturally wanted to experience the festival.
The shows picked out for us were Blush and The Absolute Truth about Absolutely Everything. All of the productions in the festival are in alignment with the Camden People Theatre’s ethos, that is to support early-career artists, especially those making work about issues that matter to people right now.
I’m so glad I went. Here are a few words about the two fabulous shows I watched. There is a full list of the 20+ productions taking place on their website. I will most definitely be seeking out some tickets for other performances before they sell out. This festival is going to be epic!
Blush is premiering in London following its award-winning sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival earlier this summer. It is playing in this festival for five nights. On Thursday the auditorium was full and there were people waiting for returns at the box office, I even spotted a well-known actor of stage and screen queuing for a return!
The performance piece lasts just over an hour and is a two-hander penned by, produced and performed by Snuff Box Theatre’s Charlotte Jospehine.
The two very talented and versatile performers delivering this emotional and physical show are Charlotte Josephine and Daniel Foxsmith. The piece explores and tries to explain revenge porn and the easy accessibility of pornographic images in a modern millennial world.
The two performers play five characters between them – offering the audience a unique insight into their experience of porn, social media and the effects on their lives and the lives of the ones they love.
The show is very emotive; it made me laugh (out loud) smile with recognition and in the darker moments made me upset and angry. Both of the performers are very talented, they are able to easily morph in and out of their character effortlessly, a change of voice, a slight difference in their physicality and we are watching a new character unfold their lives to us.
The two actors rarely talk to each other, instead the piece is designed so they present their stories, their monologues to us, like a modern day Alan Bennett play, however the piece is also deeply physical. The production is moved forward with physical movement as well as the spoken word.
All in all, I really embraced this performance. I think it has the balance between dark and light just right. The show isn’t didactic, you don’t come away thinking you’ve been to a lecture on how to manage your social media. However, you do come away a little bit wiser knowing that what you put out on social media may come back to haunt you.
The Absolute Truth About Absolutely Everything
Olly Hawes, theatre maker, has crafted a performance that is part autobiographical, part performance art. The special thing about this production is that is will be different every night of the run so each audience will have a unique perspective of Olly’s work.
Unlike most productions, the actor has not seen the script prior to “performing” the piece. On Thursday, Charlotte Worthing was Olly’s willing co-performer for the night. The piece starts, Olly introduces himself to the audience, he goes on to introduce us to his chosen performer, she then carried out some improvisation with him. He frequently refers to the show as “a game”. I think of it more as an experiment.
Charlotte is then given four scripts which Olly asks her to read to us. Simple? Well, that all depends on the actor. Charlotte appears quite robust, definitely not shy and can eloquently convey Olly’s words – even when they are deeply pornographic, and when I say deeply pornographic I mean that she is speaking words about hard core porn with explicit images being conjured about the way Olly spends his spare time.
I think the point is that Charlotte is reading about sexual violence to women. With Olly sat behind her and an audience sat in front of her, we are hearing about some potentially disturbing fantasies and fetishes. However, she keeps reading and we keep listening and there is an element of us all feeling rather detached, rather desensitized to these words.
The show runs for an hour and a quarter. I feel like I may be watching the early works of a theatre maker who’s theatrical parents could be Forced Entertainment’s Tim Etchells and Kim Noble. Again, like Blush, the piece I saw earlier in the evening, the balance between light and shade, dark and darker is just right.
The ending of the piece is interesting – and not to spoil it for you – there is an element of improvisation here, I was slightly disappointed with the ending. However, I guess this too is deeply symbolic!
Review by Faye Stockley
Calm Down, Dear 2016
Britain’s original and best festival of innovative feminist theatre is back for a fourth year with a scintillating line up featuring porn, pole dancing and power dressing…
Expect theatre and comedy, talks and debates, as CPT seeks to destroy the patriarchy in three weeks flat – or your money back*.
CPT’s acclaimed feminism festival launched in 2013 with shows including Bridget Christie’s award-hogging standup set A Bic for Her. Revived the following year by popular demand, it has since featured electrifying work by Emma Frankland, Hanna Silva, Ira Brand, Rosana Cade, Milk Presents and more, alongside much-discussed performances including Fuel Theatre’s Phenomenal People and Permanently Visible’s Hula House.
* Just kidding