The F-Word stage blog: October 2019

Happy October everyone! I hope you’re having a good one.

Earlier this month I wrote a little bit about transphobia inspired by the extraordinary reaction to the Old Vic’s new toilets. I wanted to get the piece published as quickly as possible, so accepted that it wasn’t going to be perfect, but reading it through now I wasn’t entirely coherent about the link between complaining about gender inclusive spaces and transphobia itself. We’ve already included this piece in the weekly round-up, but I think Robin Craig explains it really well here. And this piece by Shona Louise about improved access for disabled audience members at the Old Vic is worth reading too.

Hot on the heels of toiletgate of course came Victoria Sadler’s review of eight of the leading London theatres, which finds the Old Vic bottom of the list for staging the work of women playwrights. Ah the Old Vic, you give with one hand and with the other you take away!

And now let’s move on to the shows:

Dirty Crusty opens tonight at The Yard in London and runs until 23 November. It follows a woman who feels adrift in her early 30s who begins to learn ballet in the midst of of the mess of her life. There is a captioned performance on 20 November.

An ode to queer parenting and overcoming anxiety, The Green Fairy is an pub musical following one woman’s struggle to take back control of her own life before it’s too late. It runs at the Union Theatre in London from 30 October until 27 November.

Louise Orwin’s Oh Yes Oh No is on tour around the UK and has been significantly rewritten since we reviewed it in 2017. Made with the input of those willing to speak candidly about their sex lives, performance artist Orwin, herself a rape survivor, explores how to reclaim your sexuality after surviving sexual violence, and the power of asking for what you want. It visits Norwich, Colchester, Battersea and Chichester.

If you’re feeling quite flush (cheapest tickets are £35) and a little bit sexy, then House of Kittens are presenting an immersive erotic theatre show Amatory Asylum at the Wellington Members Club in London on 31 October, 1 November, 14 November and 15 November. They describe it as: “a celebration of female empowerment and sexuality, created by ladies of all genders; performed for everyone”.

Women Against Rape & English Collective of Prostitutes present No Bad Women at Clean Break in London between 1 and 14 November. The play is a dramatisation of the first private prosecution for rape in England and Wales, where two sex workers took their rapist to court after the Crown Prosecution Service closed the case citing insufficient evidence – they didn’t think sex workers would be believed by a jury.

New Queers On The Block is at the Quarterhouse in Folkestone on 1 and 2 November with a weekend of experimental and thought-provoking performances, conversations and video works by a lineup of local and international LGBTQ+ artists. Jamila Johnson Small – a dance artist working under the title Last Yearz Interesting Negro – is performing as is theatre maker Ira Brand.

Easy, running from 5 until 23 November at the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell, explores what happens when we combine social media, Love Island ideals, Snapchat and teenage insecurity. An intimate portrait of adolescence today, Easy asks us – why is it so hard to believe we’re good enough as we are? The play has been developed in consultation with teachers and teenagers, and free PSHE workshops are available for school and youth group bookings.

Abortion Rights are hosting their inaugural Abortion Cabaret, in aid of their Decrim Fighting Fund on 6 November at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Acts include Amanda Palmer, Fern Brady, Sadia Azmat and Lilly Burton.

Certain Blacks’ Circus Circus Circus festival runs from 7 until 22 November in east London. Events of particular note are 24 Italian Songs and Arias at Rich Mix featuring opera singer Gwetheth Ann Rand and the grand finale at Hoxton Hall created with festival partner Victoria Amedume of Upswing Aerial Circus and featuring Symoné and Joana Dias.

A rehearsed reading of Nicole Zweiback’s new play, I’m Begging You To Hurt Me is at the Drayton Arms Theatre in London on 10 and 11 November. This two-person play explores the bias of memory, and the push and pull of love addiction.

A visceral, full-bodied, dragged up, queertastic howl of a show that makes no apology for it, Motherland plays Lighthouse, Poole, on 16 November. In the blurb they say: “When they tell you you’re not Indian. When they ask you, quietly, politely, still holding your passport, to step to one side. When they tell you you’re not British. When they say you’re a terrorist. When they add your name, without you noticing, to a list. It’s not right, violence. But then maybe sometimes, just sometimes, you feel like it is. Motherland – punching fascists in the face through the medium of drag.”

Coinciding with the largest retrospective of Dora Maar’s work at the Tate Modern, new play MUSE based on the life of surrealist photographer Dora Maar and her relationship with Pablo Picasso runs at the Tristan Bates theatre in London from 19 until 23 November. The company tell me that: “Patriarchy has created a system in the art world where male artists are able to thrive by fetishising and alienating depictions of women and then in turn their work, something that was particularly rife in the early 20th century as more and more female artists were beginning to enjoy as much critical and commercial success as their male contemporaries. [MUSE is] a survivor narrative and demonstrates how Maar fought beyond Picasso’s physical, artistic and psychological abuse to continue being an artist in her own right and finally, in the present day, enjoy the success she rightfully deserved almost one hundred years ago.”

Jayde Adams has her debut nationwide tour with The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face beginning on 24 November and finishing in April next year. She’s visiting Leeds, Maidenhead, York, London, Birmingham, Reading, Salford, Exeter, Coventry, Aldershot, Cambridge, Cardiff, Colchester, Brighton, Lincoln, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Norwich, Swindon, Canterbury and Bristol. With this show, Adams reinvents herself as a ‘Successful Independent Woman Person’, exploring what it means to be a feminist in 2019, and showcasing herself as an intelligent working class voice.

Midnight Movie will run at the Royal Court in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs from 27 November until 21 December. The Royal Court are really pushing accessibility here and the production will creatively combine spoken English, BSL, captioning and audio description, with all shows performed in a relaxed environment. The theatre is also creating a digital offering designed for anyone whose physical body can’t make it to the show but who wish to be part of the experience. Midnight Movie is described with “The possibilities are endless. Even at 2am. That’s the thing about being Extremely Online: there’s no limit on where you can go.”

A lifelong project, Lucy Hutson’s BOUND weaves together performance and autobiographical film documentation. BOUND is a show about the slippery nature of identities, the ones you give yourself, the ones forced upon you and the ones that once were strong and now you’re just clinging on… More specifically it’s a show about breasts, gender and using urinals, but mostly it’s about baring all and coming clean. It’s at the Camden People’s Theatre on 6 and 7 December.

That’s all for this month. Probably a bit too London and theatre focused – but I guess we’re used to that by now.

The feature image is of Lucy Hutson by Holly Revell. Hutson is shown from the chest up in front of a bright yellow background. She has bandages wound around her breasts and is holding more to her chest. She has short blue hair and looks straight at the camera.

The first image in the text is from Oh Yes Oh No by Louise Orwin and is by Field & McGlynn. It shows Orwin sideways to the camera, looking over her shoulder directly into the lens. She holds two naked plastic male Barbie toys over her shoulder. Her tongue is between her teeth and she looks as if she’s winking at the camera, even though she isn’t. The background to the photo is pink and she’s wearing blue eyeshadow and red lipstick.

The second image in the text is of Symoné. They recline within a circular hole in a white wall. They wear a fluorescent bikini, very high heeled shoes and hold a hoop up behind them. They look directly at the camera and look very relaxed and poised.