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Calm Down, Dear 2: a festival of feminism

Camden People's Theatre LogoCalm Down, Dear: The Festival of Feminism returns for a second year of theatre, performance, comedy, cabaret, dance and discussion at Camden People’s Theatre, 24th September to 12th October

Featuring: Louise Orwin | Sh!t Theatre | Liz Aggiss | Susanna Hislop | Kathryn Beaumont | Isabel Sharman | Keisha Thompson | Hannah Silva | Rose Biggin | The Ruby Dolls | Portmanteau | Fuel | Richard Dedomenici | Foxy & Husk

Welcome to Calm Down, Dear 2: a festival of feminism. Performances this year include a surreal, satirical Women’s Hour from one of the hottest young companies in the UK. There’s also a show busting the myth of boy-meets-girl, and another that shreds Fifty Shades of Grey into a thousand pieces. Finally, there’s a night of performance and film exploring feminism and age, and a “live, interactive performance garden” celebrating inspirational women. Oh, and there’s pole-dancing, moustache-toting and close harmony singing too.

Brian Logan, artistic director of Camden People’s Theatre, says: “In autumn 2013, our first festival of innovative feminist performance, Calm Down, Dear, struck a nerve. It was a big success for CPT, and provided a focal point for the extraordinary and exciting conversations about feminism that were happening at that time. They’re still happening, and intensifying.

At CPT, our themed festivals are usually one-offs. But we couldn’t resist bringing this one back. Audiences were asking for it. Artists were asking for it. More and more great feminist-oriented work was being made – and the seeds planted at our 2013 festival were starting to bear fruit. It also felt important to establish that just because feminism was “hip” in 2013 doesn’t mean we can forget about it in 2014. Now we can’t wait to pick up where we left off with a blistering three weeks of new performance and new angles on the fight for equal treatment and equal rights, and on what it means to be feminist in 2014.

Women’s Hour | Sh!t Theatre 24-25 Sept & 1-2, 4, 8-11 Oct 7.30pm, 26 Sept 9pm
Women’s Hour-I’M FINE-Women’s Hour. First on Women’s Hour: Men, then us. Women’s House. Later on Women’s Hour: Ankle Socks? Women’s Hour.

Women’s Hour uses satire, song, movement and mess to interrogate how the media portrays women, the obsessive binarity of gender in modern life and the effect that it has on the treatment of women in our society. It is based on the popular BBC Radio 4 magazine programme, Woman’s Hour, and is at once an homage to and a critique of the show. Women’s Hour is set in a supposed alternative universe, a surreal parallel of today. It is a combination of invented new segments and verbatim text taken from the BBC radio show. By juxtaposing the two without signal as to which is invented and which is reality, Sh!t Theatre aim to highlight just how strange, unnecessary and darkly funny gender binaries can be.

Women’s Hour is a cabaret piece of ‘giddy, freewheeling silliness’ (Exeunt) about what happens when women are given just one hour a day to think about what it is to be a WOMAN. Sh!t Theatre’s Guinea Pigs on Trial was recently nominated for an Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award on the Edinburgh Fringe.


HemlineThe Hemline Index | Portmanteau 24 Sept 9pm
A poor economy lengthens more than the hemline. In 1984: second-wave feminism, economic boom and mini-skirts. 2014? Fourth-wave, underemployment, the mid-length.

Women are getting married later, having children later, and hope to have it all figured out by 30. Cultural expectations and economic austerity have changed what motivates or, in some cases, demotivates 20-somethings to define and take control over who they are, who they will become. Portmanteau will take you on a journey through time as measured by The Hemline Index, exploring the lives of two twenty-something women in their defining decade.

The Hemline Index bridges the generation between mothers and daughters. Portmanteau shares stories about employment, relationships, friendships, and the body through verbatim text, movement, spoken work, and original music.


Pretty UglyPretty Ugly | Louise Orwin 25 Sept 9pm
Creator/performer Louise Orwin says: “this show is about you rating me based solely on my looks. It is also about a worldwide trend of teenage girls posting videos on YouTube asking viewers to rate their looks, and about my trail of research into the world of the teenage social networker to try and understand why.” After news stories about trolling and cyber-bullying, CPT presents the electrifying Pretty Ugly, by London-based performance and video-maker Louise Orwin. It was developed as part of CPT’s Starting Blocks scheme and was part of CPT’s first Feminism of Festival in 2013. Pretty Ugly is now embarking on a national tour.


Old Dears | Live Art Development Agency 26 Sept 7pm
Liz Aggiss’s new stand-up dance/Live Art performance A Bit of Slap and Tickle is a distilled scrapbook and disorientating display of composite contradictions and varied interpretations on ladies and women, mummies and mothers, bitches and dogs, pensioners and senior citizens.

For the past 35 years Liz Aggiss has been refining and delivering her signature style in ad hoc locations around the globe; from her early days in the 80’s supporting punk legends The Stranglers with her cabaret troupe The Wild Wigglers, to her current cross art form touring performance The English Channel (2014).

The performance will be followed by a conversation and screening with LADA of seminal works by older women artists, including Bobby Baker and Anne Bean.

LADA produces Resources, Opportunities, Projects and Publications for artists and audiences in the UK. This event is part of LADA’s Restock, Rethink, Reflect initiative on Live Art and Feminism.


Calm Down, Dear Scratch / Cabaret Night 27 Sept 7.30pm
A bumper night of new, short and scratch performances. Acts include Collateral Damage by Hanna Rohn and Signhild Waersted; a brand new video from Foxy & Husk; Richard Dedomenici’s “radical feminist Bucks Fizz tribute act” Fux Bizz; and new work from Saskia Solomons, Claire Stone, Rhiannon Armstrong and others.


How does a snake shed its skin | Slip of Steel / Susanna Hislop 1 Oct 9pm
Margaret Thatcher is on a diet. Virginia Woolf is in a bucket. And Marilyn Monroe is reading the dictionary.
So what is the woman in front of you doing with her head in a filing cabinet?
Can we believe what she tells us, and is she really who we think she is?

A one-woman show about trying to make a one-woman show when you are three iconic women: Virginia Woolf, Margaret Thatcher and Marilyn Monroe. Susanna’s own diary entries as an 11-year-old are weaved together with diaries, quotes and letters from her three famous subjects.

Susanna Hislop is Artistic Director of Slip of Steel, a collaboration of artists that strives to make work as playful, honest, irreverent and serious as it sees the world to be. Slip of Steel’s first show Of Women and Horses I Have Known was described as “masterful” (The Observer), “deeply poignant” and “a rollicking good time” (Edinburgh Festival Magazine).

Developed support from the National Theatre Studio, Yard Theatre, BAC and Arts Council England.


I told you that would happen | Kathryn Beaumont 2 Oct 9pm, 3 Oct 7.30pm
Girl meets boy. Boy meets… Girl attempts to rewrite script.
Meet The Girl: She’s wearing yesterday’s clothes and a look on her face that says you’ll be skipping dinner. She drops a pile of paper on the desk…
Meet The Boy: He seems familiar: someone you’ve met before, in another story. In countless other stories…
This new show takes a look behind the scenes of the boy meets girl story: less Rom Com, and more Rom Con. It’s a show about relationships, life scripts and the ‘manosphere’. It’s a show about how our misogynistic culture plays out in our intimate relationships. If love is blind, this show is about take your blindfold off…


Nightingales | Isabel Sharman 3 Oct 9pm
Daisy didn’t realise the implications of staying out until 2am, and Lindsay hadn’t been told that being a ‘Little Devil’ automatically signaled consent; Savanna mistook her experience for a ‘real’ crime, and Philomela just wanted to ruin his reputation…

Diving in and out of a nest of Greek myth, Fox News, Karaoke and ’90s gameshows, let Isy and her clattering of Greek chorus girls feed you an ancient story of violated girls who refuse to be quiet, the vultures that prey on them, and the lengths that some people will go keep them silent.

Nightingales is a devised piece that uses storytelling, and visual and physical theatre to draw the audience into a conversation about the nature of rape culture and our own unconscious attitudes, with the hope that they themselves will begin to contemplate how a society can end up harming the victim of an attack more than the perpetrator.


Moustache Camden People's TheatreI wish I had a moustache | Keisha Thompson 4 Oct 9pm
A coming of age story that explores beauty, gender anxieties and the taboo of body hair.

It explores the dichotomy between promoting equal rights for women whilst endorsing beauty stereotypes. The show asks “When do you call yourself a ‘feminist’?” “Can you be a modern-day feminist and also feel the immemorial need to shave your legs?” “How much are we willing to change about ourselves before our soul disowns us?” This is a comedic and at times disturbing journey to find out if she has a problem with her gender, her culture or just herself.

Body hair is a topic which brings out a reaction in most people. Join Keisha as she takes you on a Socratic journey through the history of the female beauty regime – as far back as 16th-century, looking at the ‘Book of Secrets’ depilatory recipes. This show will also shed light on Armpits 4 August, an organisation that campaign during August encouraging women to grow their body hair in order to raise awareness of PCOS and raise money for Verity.

Keisha Thompson is a published and performance poet, singer, writer, actor and workshop facilitator. She has been writing since primary school and has been published in four anthologies. She has performed nationally and internationally, working with the likes of Saul Williams and Amiri Baraka.


Schock! | Hannah Silva 8 Oct 9pm
A powerful feminist satire for the cut-and-paste generation. In the grand tradition of literary terrorism, Hannah has ripped up her copy of Fifty Shades of Grey and now, surrounded by the crumpled pages and with the help of radical punk-pirate Kathy Acker, she attempts to put the female body back together. Join them on a journey through texts and voices pregnant with pain and pleasure, mothers and babies, domination and submission. In a performance as strange as it is beautiful, we discover there are no safe words.

Schlock! is commissioned by the Poetry Trust and produced by Penned in the Margins
Note: Parts of Schlock! will be signed and subtitled. It is suitable for D/deaf audience members


A Girl and a Gun | Louise Orwin 9 Oct 9pm
“All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun” (Jean-Luc Godard)
Last year, Louise started noticing girls and guns everywhere. She obsessed over them on YouTube, marvelled at them in pop videos, felt a bit disgusted about them in video games, and tried not to see them in hardcore porn. She began to wonder what it was about that coupling that was so attractive. And she wondered whether Godard was right. Maybe you could help her out…

This is a work-in-progress showing of a new project by Louise Orwin. It will be raw, it will be unsteady and it will be full of questions. There might also be some Beyonce, Nancy Sinatra, sequins galore, ridiculous prop guns and some live filmmaking. Oh and you. You will be part of it. It will ask where we draw the line, when we should stop laughing, and when to look away.


The Very Thought | Rose Biggin 10 Oct 9pm
One: you learn to do a trick. Two: you learn to make it look easy. Three: you can make it look however you like. That is the performative component. And I am fine.

Violet is teaching a new class, but she’s having a bit of a difficult day. The Very Thought is a story about love and loneliness, and a comedy about changing the way you look. And it contains pole dancing, which means it’s about that too.


Fabulous Creatures | The Ruby Dolls 11 Oct 9pm
The Ruby Dolls’ heady mix of sublime close-harmony singing with accomplished theatrical storytelling won them amazing reviews during their 2012 Fringe debut Rubies in the Attic. Written by comedy writer Abigail Burdess (That Mitchell and Webb Look), this new contemporary musical takes its influence from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park amongst other classic texts. It comes to CPT fresh from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe and asks how, in an internet age divided by insane gender expectations, we might find true love.

Fanny – a girl who meets someone, falls in love, and discovers she’s a goat. Not only is Fanny a goat-en, but the object of her affection is a fully paid-up member of the human race, and first prize in a huge internet-voted talent search to boot. Fanny must enter The Great British Goat Off – a bit like The Bachelor, but with goats. When Fanny finally proves she’s Upworthy by getting her udders out, the prize is not as advertised and, now the world’s most popular goat-en, she instead wins the Ultimate Anti-Aging Treatment – death.

“The Ruby Dolls’ fantastic feminist fairytale takes cabaret and shapes it into something so original that if you can catch it, you must” Spectator


Phenomenal PeoplePhenomenal People | Fuel 11-12 Oct, 12pm – 7pm (tbc)
CPT is delighted to host Fuel’s live performance garden event, in a unique collaboration as part of our second Calm Down, Dear festival of feminism.

Join us to celebrate inspiring women and watch a range of short ten-minute events in our special indoor garden. From comedians to dancers, actors to singers we will bring you uplifting, thought-provoking and joyful celebrations of inspiring women. Join us in the garden and experience some short performances or just hang out, drink lemonade and tell us which women you think are inspiring. We will be making the garden with local artists as well as people from around the UK including the Artistic Director of Graeae and the opening ceremony of the Paralympics Jenny Sealy, and standup-theatre performer Rachel Mars.

We hope you will join us in person or online to hear and share your stories of inspirational women. You can drop in and stay for as long as you want to and come back later too. See you there.

www.cptheatre.co.uk | @CamdenPT | #Calmdowndear I Suitable for ages 12+
Listings Information
Calm Down Dear: A Festival of Feminism
Camden People’s Theatre, 58 – 60 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 2PY
24th September to 12th October 2014 | Various times (as indicated) I 08444 77 1000 | www.cptheatre.co.uk

Thursday 4th September 2014


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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