A stone’s throw from where Sylvia Pankhurst led the fight for women’s suffrage in East London, Stratford Circus Arts Centre will present a collection of shows that explore the many fronts women continue to fight today for equality, 100 years on from the first women getting the vote. The performances in the week of International Women’s Day (8th March) range across live art, cabaret, theatre and music are deeply moving, funny and life-affirming.
The week begins with poet and live artist Helen Seymour’s debut solo show To Helen Back (6 March) which recounts her experiences of recovery from illness (and her penchant for breaking into hospitals). Funny and often bittersweet, the show was nominated for New Writing South’s Best New Play award at the 2017 Brighton Fringe. There will be an afternoon and evening show, with a relaxed performance in the afternoon and crèche facilities on offer to allow parents the opportunity to enjoy the show whilst children are cared for.
In the second debut solo show of the season, cabaret star Fancy Chance will be globe-trotting and time-travelling in Flights of Fancy (7 March), taking the audience from her origins as a Korean refugee to the present day as a darling of the London cabaret scene. In a very personal true story, Fancy Chance asks who she might have been if she hadn’t been adopted by a white American family and found her home as a performer in the capital.
Following the success of her debut show Muvvahood which toured London venues last year Stratford Circus Arts Centre Associate Artist Libby Liburd unveils the fascinating stories of female boxers in a work-in-progress performance of her new show. Staged on International Women’s Day (8 March), Fighter draws on Libby’s own experiences in the ring as well as those of the pioneers who punched the glass ceiling, including Jane Couch who became the first officially licensed British female boxer twenty years ago in March 1998. Originally the British Boxing Board of Control refused to grant Jane a licence on the grounds that she was a woman and argued that PMS made women too unstable to box.
Completing the week on 9 March, Benin City’s Shanaz Dorsett will perform her first solo headline show and launch her debut EP Cake. Through lo-fi electronica and nostalgic R’n’B sounds, and via influences that include Amy Winehouse, Kelis and Frank Ocean, Cake tells three intimate stories of coming of age, delving into body image, domesticity and female sexuality.
Speaking about the shows and the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day, Tania Wilmer of Stratford Circus said, “The battle for women’s suffrage may have ended 100 years ago but the war in achieving gender equality continues to be waged. This programme showcases four exceptional female artists from theatre, live art, cabaret and music disciplines who are telling stories about their modern-day experiences of what it takes for women to exist and thrive in the world today. Stratford Circus Arts Centre is committed to making theatre opportunities accessible to our audiences. We will be offering a relaxed performance which babies can be brought into and a pay-what-you-can crèche for our matinee show.”
Stratford Circus Arts Centre provides world-class, accessible creative experiences and performances on the doorstep of people in Newham and East London, driven by the belief that access to art brings joy, empowers people, and draws them together. Stratford Circus Arts Centre is a vibrant place to create and experience art through world-class theatre, dance, music and circus and visual exhibitions and alongside work for families and young people. Its extensive creative learning programme works with local schools and community organisations to introduce local people to artistic experiences through workshops and bespoke creative projects. A modern and versatile building, it receives more than 120,000 visits a year and is a key resource for the local community. Stratford Circus Arts Centre is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England and a registered charity. www.stratford-circus.com
@StratfordCircus | #IWDStratfordCircus | Stratford-circus.com
6th – 9th March
Stratford Circus Arts Centre, Theatre Square, London, E15 1BX
stratford-circus.com | 020 8279 1080
To Helen Back Tue 6 Mar, 1.30pm & 7pm
60 mins | £15 (£13 conc)
Helen is a burglar. She likes breaking into hospitals. She admits you into a surreal hospital as she sneaks around wards, x-ray rooms and cupboards to discover the bizarre, the bemusing – and a badger…
To Helen Back is a hilarious, unique and powerful theatrical experience, by Helen Seymour, that analyses sickness, health and what it really means to recover, while blurring the boundaries between spoken word, comedy and performance art.
Flights of Fancy Wed 7 Mar, 7pm
60 mins, suitable for 18+ (contains nudity) | £15 (£13 conc)
Fancy Chance invites you aboard her debut solo show: a globe-trotting, time-travelling mini-spectacle, jetting from her humble origins as Korean refugee to darling of the London cabaret scene.
Fusing cabaret, live art and video, the Flights of Fancy is a funny, moving and thought-provoking show that incorporates burlesque, drag and circus. The show touches on themes of identity, immigration and international relations, exploring a very personal story that is current and relevant to our times.
Fighter: Work in Progress Tue 8 Mar, 7pm
60 mins | £8
Straight off the back of her hit debut show Muvvahood, Libby Liburd is back at Stratford Circus Arts Centre – this time trying out something new.
Fighter invites audiences into the world of female boxers, introducing the pioneering women who fought tooth and nail to pave the way for today’s stars. As with her previous work, expect something bold, clever and funny that packs a punch!
Shanaz Dorsett Fri 9 Mar, 7.30pm doors (8pm start)
2 hours (tbc) | £15 (£13 conc)
Following a recent signing with new indie London label Black Wave, Shanaz Dorsett launches her first single from her upcoming solo EP, Cake – her first solo headline show.
A Londoner by way of Montserrat and North Cyprus, Dorsett is best known as one third of the band Benin City, recently signed with Moshi Moshi. Cake tells three intimate stories of her coming of age as a woman, delving into body image, domesticity and female sexuality.
With influences from Amy Winehouse, Badu, Kelis and Frank Ocean, her sound sits between lo-fi electronic and nostalgic R’n’B, with stunning vocals that reveal a conviction to story-telling. In many ways, her sound captures, naturally and authentically, the music of a multicultural London.