But For Us R&D

Last week we held our research and development week for But For Us at the Old Diorama Arts Centre (ODAC), culminating in a staged reading at the Bush Theatre for community and campaigners, and an Industry showing at ODAC.

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We had a phenomenal group of actors who worked their socks off to interrogate the script and develop the characters, under the watchful eye and skillful direction of Fiona MacPherson. We are extremely grateful to them for their willingness to hit the ground running, achieving a tremendous amount within the very limited time available to us.

We’d also like to say a huge thank you to all of the team at ODAC. Being Associate Performers has been an invaluable opportunity for us, and we thoroughly recommend other emerging artists explore this opportunity. Without ODAC, our R&D would not have been possible. And talking of which, another enormous thank you to our Kickstarter funders, without whom we would not have been able to pay anyone for all this hard work!

The showing at the Bush Theatre studio was sold out, with a fantastic atmosphere and a hugely appreciative audience. The feedback that we have collected from both readings will be invaluable as we take But For Us forward to the next stage.

So what is the next stage for But For Us?

Well, we did give ourselves the weekend off -but now we are back on it. We are digesting all the incredibly positive feedback we have received, as well as taking on board one or two constructively critical notes. We will then look towards fully integrating the video elements of the script, in collaboration with colleagues with projection design expertise. Ultimately, of course, our aim is to take But For Us to as wide an audience as possible with a fully staged production.

We will keep you posted!

Ali & Debs

Whoopnwail_Butforus-1207

L-R back: Deborah Klayman (Writer/Producer), Adil Akram (Naveen), Nicky Goldie (Brenda), Eva Fontaine (Mary), Andre Lecointe-Gayle (Martin), Harry Napier (Ricky), Ali Kemp (Writer/Producer). L-R front: Natascha Slasten (Gretel), Lesley Ewen (Dora), Roger Conneff (Ray), Fiona Macpherson (Director).

With thanks to Alex Harvey-Brown at Savannah Photographic for the fantastic rehearsal photography, and for filming the reading at the Bush Theatre studio.

 

 

Our R&D week is finally here!

After months of preparation, our R&D week is finally here!

We are delighted to welcome a wonderful group of actors to work on the But For Us script with playwrights Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman and director Fiona McPherson at the Old Diorama Arts Centre (ODAC), where Whoop ‘n’ Wail are Associate Performers.

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Our sharing evening for campaigners and community at the Bush Theatre studio on Thursday 12th September is already sold out, ahead of our Industry Sharing on Friday 13th September at ODAC. We hope you will be joining us!

Follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the week, or join our mailing list here for all the Whoop ‘n’ Wail news!

 

It’s the Final Countdown!

There are 3 days to go on the But For Us Kickstarter campaign, and we are so close to achieving our goal. Thank you so much to everyone who has already pledged and supported us so far – you are a brilliant bunch of backers!

We’ve raised 70% of our target so far – please help us with the final push. We need to get the But For Us message to as many people as possible, so if you are able to share the project on social media or with friends and family we would be very grateful.

Kickstarter: http://kck.st/2RQITkL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whoopnwailtheatre

Twitter: https://twitter.com/whoopnwail

Ali, Debs & Fiona - script meeting in York

Ali, Debs & Fiona – script meeting in York

Today we took a day trip to meet with our director, Fiona McPherson, in York which is halfway between her base and Whoop ‘n’ Wail HQ. We had an incredibly productive afternoon fine tuning the script and planning for the R&D in September.

#TheFightGoesOn #ButForUsThePlay

But For Us table read

In January, this happened…..

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But For Us table read January 2019, Old Diorama Arts Centre

Photos by Stew Calladine @arty_stew

Hearing actors, most that we’d never met before, discuss and read our characters with such intimate knowledge of them was a strange and wonderful experience. This play has been about three years in the writing, and at the reading it really felt like it was stepping out in the big wide world and starting a life of its own, finding its own voice. It got us quite emosh.

A huge thanks to the actors for their enthusiasm and invaluable input: Adil Akram, Yvonne Campbell, Roger Conneff, Eva Fontaine, Érin Geraghty, Andre Lecointe, Natascha Slasten and PK Taylor. Our eternal gratitude also to Paula David and Swee Wildman for their insightful contributions. It was a joy to be led by director Fiona MacPherson and wonderful to be reunited with friend of Whoop ‘n’ Wail, Stew Calladine, who took the photos for us.

Thanks also to The Old Diorama Arts Centre, who are supporting the development of our work through the Associate Performers Scheme – ultimately, without them, this day couldn’t have happened.

So, what next?

We aren’t sitting back on our laurels that’s for sure!

Feeling super inspired by Rikki Beadle-Blair’s, “Life’s A Pitch” workshop (Old Vic Workshops For Artists), and with tailored advice from David Byrne (New Diorama Monthly Artist Surgeries), we’re full steam ahead in preparation for two weeks of research and development in the spring.

You gotta play a long game to get from page to stage, but look at all the fabulous people you get to meet and learn from along the way!

 

An exciting New Year ahead!

In December we put out a casting call for a table read of our new play But For Us. We are delighted to say that it is now fully cast.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that liked and shared our casting call out, for spreading the word and making the world a little smaller.

We had a blast watching the showreels and clips from all the actors who got in touch with their CVs. Thank you so much to all of you for showing such interest in our project.

We are looking forward to getting together with our fantastic cast and director, over a cuppa and a biscuit or two, early in the new year.

Watch this space, folks…

 

Happy New Year!

Ali & Debs

 

No excuses this time

Excuses, excuses. There’s always something, isn’t there?

“It’s a great idea but I’m really busy at the moment?”

“I’d love to but I’ve got so much on, you wouldn’t believe!”

“I would but I’m completely snowed under. Next time.”

Well, I guess this was us. We’d known about Theatre Uncut for some time. It’s a theatrical call to arms, originally in response to the 2011 cuts in public spending. Every year, Hannah Price and Emma Callander of Theatre Uncut make a number of short political plays available for anyone to perform, rights free, anywhere in the world, creating a theatrical critical mass.

This is, of course, right up our street. We love a bit of theatrical activism but every year we’ve found a reason why we’d have to leave it until next time. To be fair to us, we have been very busy writing, producing, performing, doing the day job, as well as everything else that constitutes our lives. Producing plays is a very time consuming job and when you have a lot else going on, taking on yet another project might not make you very popular with your long-suffering loved ones.

This year was no different. Here at Whoop ‘n’ Wail we are preparing for the next stage in the development of our new play But For Us – watch this space for more on that! and what with putting together our creative team, applying for funding and scheduling some R&D, the likelihood of us producing anything from this year’s Theatre Uncut Power Plays looked very slim indeed:

“But, hang on. Not again! It’s like this every year and every year we miss out. Surely one more little side project won’t kill us!”

So we thought, realistically, the best we could do was get a few people around to Whoop ‘n’ Wail HQ for a really informal play read and good old fashioned discussion. So we did.

Bringing together friends and collaborators, some we haven’t seen in years and others we’ve only just met, we had our get-together on the morning of Sunday 24th June 2018. We read through the plays in turn and more than once, each provoking so much chat that we had to start watching the clock as we all had a variety of rehearsals, performances, meetings and social whirlery to get to later in the day. And apart from downloading and printing scripts, stocking up with plenty of tea and coffee and baking a batch of Whoop ‘n’ Wails infamous Caramac Cookies, very little time and effort needed to go into it. You can find extracts of our play reading here.

Theatre Uncut 2018

Theatre Uncut – Power Plays read by Paul Taylor, Ali Kemp, Radhika Aggarwal, Madeleine MacMahon, Deborah Klayman, Cassandra Cartwright

 

We will do the same next year, unless we decide to go the whole hog that is. But either way, from a small community here in the front room to the global community of Theatre Uncutters, we are all taking part in the discussion, not putting it off until next time.

“Theatre can create community and community, I know, can create change.”      

Emma Callander, Theatre Uncut 5-4-5 Podcast 1

The release period for this year’s plays has been extended until the end of the year – download, perform and debate Power Plays.

A selection of Power Plays will be performed at Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival on the 6th & 13th August 2018.

Anyone for a spot of anarchy?

Dora Cockburn, 72, from Shepherds Bush, London, is one of the Windrush Generation. A grandmother and retired social worker, she always enjoys a natter with her friends over a cuppa and a good biscuit. When the biscuits are down, however, she spends the majority of her time indulging in a spot of anarchy.

Dora is an activist, hell-bent on protecting the NHS from the forces of privatisation.

Her son is a Conservative MP, and Minster for Health and Social Care.

Welfare’s a state and the pensioners are revolting.

We’ve spent the last 18 months or so with Dora. We’ve been with her as she’s publicly stood her ground with the powers that be, and has privately been torn between her love for her family and the principles she holds so dear.

Dora is the main character in our new full-length play, currently in development. There may never have been such an interesting and pertinent time to be exploring what the NHS and our public services as a whole mean to us as a nation. As playwrights, we have certainly been given plenty of both inspiration and provocation.

But of course where inspiration fuels art, art fuels inspiration and the thousands of people attending the recent NHS rallies in London have been rousingly accompanied by songs from the National Health Singers, and our very own Debs has been giving it some damn good alto.

Look who was hanging out with them backstage at the rally at the Methodist Central Hall in January.

The National Health Singers joined by Jeremy Corbyn (Deborah Klayman is to his left)

The National Health Singers with Jeremy Corbyn

Debs also had the pleasure of joining the choir at the recording of Maverick Sabre’s Hands Of Hope for the Labour Party’s political broadcast, which was broadcast on national TV earlier this year. This moving film, directed by Josh Cole, acts as a reminder of the challenges we face if we want our NHS to work for the many, not for the few.

And in the year that marks a century since the first stage of suffrage for women, we are reminded of how powerful we can be with the courage of our convictions and how critical it is for all our voices to come together, united and defiant, in support of our public services and, in particular, our NHS.

 

 

 

Winners of the Cambridge University Press “Channel the Bard” competition!

In 2016, as part of their Shakespeare 400 commemorations, Cambridge University Press invited submission of short plays inspired by the works of the Bard. Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman of Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company submitted their short play, My Bloody Laundrette to the “Channel the Bard” competition, and were delighted to win!

The full interview and playscript can be found here.


 

An Interview with Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company

Deborah Klayman and Ali Kemp (L-R) photo credit -Gianluca Romeo 1

Deborah Klayman & Ali Kemp (L-R). Photo credit: Gianluca Romeo

You can read their winning play entry for free here


In this interview we talk to Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman, the co-founders of Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company, who won our competition with their winning entry My Bloody Laundrette.

CUP: Why did you decide to set up Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company back in 2011?

Ali Kemp: Well, first of all Deborah approached me because she had an idea of something that she was really burning to write, and you really wanted some help to get that going, didn’t you? That was it really, that was the birth of our first play, eXclusion in 2011, and we’ve carried on working together ever since.

eXclusion by Ali Kemp Deborah Klayman Photo Credit Rakesh Mohun

eXclusion by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman. Photo credit: Rakesh Mohun

Deborah Klayman: We enjoy writing plays that are funny (we hope!), but they do tend to have a bit of black humour.

AK: Yeah, we’re kind of drawn to social issues.

CUP: Why is Shakespeare important to you?

DK: We’ve got a very particular affinity with Shakespeare because, as actresses, Ali and I actually met working on King Lear.

AK: So Shakespeare is fundamentally important to us!

DK: That was in 2006, so it may be Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, but it’s the 10th anniversary of us working together. That year we did a world tour of King Lear and we really hit it off straight away. That led us down the path really.

AK: We’ve worked together many times as actors, but also as a writing partnership and subsequently as producers, so Shakespeare gets the credit for that, I guess!

DK: One of the things we are drawn to in Shakespeare’s plays is that he writes quite black comedy at times, and that’s something that we like to do with our writing as well.

With some of the tragedies you also find that, whilst there are obviously some upsetting moments, you do have moments where there are quite ‘light’ parts (for instance with King Lear). Even in the comedies you have some quite dark moments. Twelfth Night is a good example, where you have comedic scenes and then you have what happens to Malvolio.

AK: Although it depends on how it is played and how it’s produced, how it’s interpreted by the actors and director.

DK: Yes, and implicit in the text there is quite a lot of scope for that. With other writers you don’t necessarily get so many options for how to play it, and I think Shakespeare really gives a lot of different opportunities, it’s got that light and dark, which is reflective of all people.

AK: And I suppose that never gets old, because of the endless numbers of possibilities for interpretation.

DK: Yes, I think people always talk about the themes being universal and relevant, but I think the characters are intrinsically like that as well because they are so rounded.

Shakespeare really gives a lot of different opportunities, it’s got that light and dark, which is reflective of all people.

CUP: What inspired you to write My Bloody Laundrette?

AK: It was a response to a shout out for short plays by an organisation called 17Percent for their SheWrites Showcase –

DK: On the theme of ‘What is art?’

AK: Yep, and we had quite recently been introduced to ‘The Bechdel Test’ when we’d started thinking about the play, and thinking about the number of roles for women in the Shakespeare canon. We found it interesting to think about the role of men creating art that is telling female stories, so that’s kind of where it came from initially, and then it developed. We started looking through Shakespeare’s plays to find the characters, and settled upon Juliet.

DK: I think our original concept actually was that it was going to be three Shakespearian women, so they needed to be really recognisable. Juliet was an immediate choice because she’s such an iconic and well known character.

AK: It seems to me that so much happens to her – instigated by men – so she was a really good choice to start with.

DK: Yes, and everyone talks about her and makes decisions for her. And obviously she does talk quite a lot with the nurse and so on, but again, generally speaking it’s about men.

AK: Hm.

DK: Yeah.

madjesty-14

Ali Kemp, Gerri Farrel, Tom Neill & Ian Crump (L-R) in “Madjesty” by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman. Photo credit: George Riddell

AK: So originally we were thinking that we were going to write about three Shakespearean women, but then we kind of threw it out a bit further –

DK: I had watched something – because we’d been looking at The Bechdel Test at the time – and somebody had talked about the fact that Princess Leia represents everything! She’s a fantastic female character, I mean she’s a wife and a mother at various points throughout the Star Wars canon, however she’s also a senator, she’s a politician, she’s a rebel, she’s a fighter, she’s a general.

AK: She’s a sex object!

DK: And I think if you read about Carrie Fisher, who played her, she seems to have felt the burden of that representation. So she’s definitely an interesting character in that regard because she’s such a strong, such a positive female character, and yet she’s the only one.

AK: And being everything to everyone.

DK: And so differently from Juliet we felt almost that she was over burdened with all of the things that she was being.

AK: We felt actually that you could have had five female characters, but with Princess Leia they were all rolled into one. We felt that she had a very different burden on her.

DK: So, we then thought that if we have these two characters it would be quite interesting to have three different art forms, and the most iconic woman we could think of in Fine Art was the Mona Lisa.

AK: There’s been so much speculation as to what she’s thinking, what’s she’s doing –

DK: And I mean the attacks that she’s suffered over the years!

AK: They’re for real!

DK: She’s even had paint thrown on her.

AK: It’s quite interesting that a painting could generate such a response from its viewers. So, she was the obvious third choice for us.

DK: And once we had the three characters the play kind of wrote itself.

You could have had five female characters, but with Princess Leia they were all rolled into one. We felt that she had a very different burden on her… she’s such a strong, such a positive female character, and yet she’s the only one.

CUP: What projects are you currently working on?

DK: We have quite a few things in the pipeline, we haven’t written a full length play since eXclusion because we have been focusing on new writing, The Bechdel Test –

AK: And Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… which is ongoing.

DK: Absolutely. Represents… is quite a time consuming venture because Ali and I do all of that. We manage open submissions for plays – which, as I’m sure you know, takes a lot of time and reading! Once we have the scripts then we give two to each director to choose between, and we give a female writer to a male director and vice versa.

AK: Because it’s a gender equal showcase.

DK: So all the plays have to pass The Bechdel Test, but we have three male writers and three female writers.

AK: And we have three male directors and three female directors. It makes the whole experience very much a gender equal collaboration.

DK: Then the director will do the casting and will invite the writers to be involved in the rehearsal process. We normally do two nights of the production (six plays). They are quite work intensive but we have got a huge amount out of doing it.

AK: Personally, but also in terms of working with talented writers, directors and actors – and there’s been a lot of ongoing collaboration between them, so that’s really exciting, introducing artists to each other, which has been very gratifying for us.

DK: We’ve also had feedback from some of the writers that the remit we’ve set has actually influenced them and their craft as well.

Heart's Desire 3

Jonathan Akingba & Caroline Loncq in “Heart’s Desire” by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman. Photo credit: George Riddell

AK: Alongside Represents… we are also writing our second full length play which we’ve been researching and it’s now starting to take shape now.

DK: We can’t say too much more about it now – it’s at a very early stage.

AK: So watch this space!

CUP: What is your favourite Shakespeare play and why?

AK: King Lear because we met doing King Lear!

DK: Aw! Well sorry, mine is Macbeth! Firstly, it’s ‘the Scottish play’ and I’m Scottish, but also because I find the characters and the themes really interesting, and it’s the part I’ve always wanted to play – as an actor, Lady Macbeth is the part to play! I do also like Henry VI Part III, which may be a little obscure, but there are some really great speeches for Queen Margaret.

We have quite a few things in the pipeline… so watch this space!

Check out the interview at: www.cambridgeblog.org

Break ups, lesbians and procrastination

Friend of Whoop ‘n’ Wail, Lizzie Milton, tells us all about her playwrighting debut, female-centric comedy, and the importance of paying her actors:

Lizzie Milton

Lizzie Milton

The Breaks in You and I is a lesbian break-up comedy. It is my debut production. It has a cast and crew comprised exclusively of women and I am paying all of them.

We are watching TV and it happens. It drops. All inside of me. I do not love you. In fact, I think you repulse me a bit. You know what triggered it? You farted. Right in that good bit in Being John Malkovich. And I know it seems like a little thing, but it becomes this whole big metaphor for our relationship. You, my darling wife, are dispersing your shit molecules all over the good bits of my life.

I started this piece during my MA in Writing for Performance and Dramaturgy at Goldsmiths in 2015.  About two weeks before the first draft of my dissertation was due, my partner of three and a half years broke up with me, whilst I was simultaneously going through the worst period of depression of my life thus far.

So as far as I could see it I had this choice. I could crawl into a cave of sadness and not come out for three months or I write a goddamn play about it. In the end, I did a bit of both. I didn’t really know what the play was going to be – I was scared it would be an hour of me rolling around the floor crying out ‘why did you do this to me?’ and ‘why am I so alone?’ and ‘will there ever be enough pizza to feel this hole inside of me?’ Thankfully it wasn’t. What came out was a very rough version of the play that will be staged in September. It was painful and funny all at once, as most bad things are in my experience.

Nina Shenkman and Charlotte Merriam

Nina Shenkman and Charlotte Merriam

Chloe sleeps spread out like a starfish every night. Her life is full of yoga, wine and definitely not missing Joanna. Joanna hasn’t changed her pants in ten days, because she can’t work out how to use the washing machine. Oh, and she’s starting to suspect Chloe’s controlling her mind. A grotesquely comic account of breaking up, amid fried chicken, conspiracy theories and a lot of alcohol.

Chloe and Joanna came out quite naturally as a way of expressing the dichotomy of feelings I had during this period. I suppose, maybe that’s why they’re both women – in a sense, they’re both me. This of course meant that my play was a lesbian comedy about breaking up, and I honestly didn’t realise how significant this would be until we did a rehearsed reading of an extract at the Soho Theatre in June 2015. Talking to audience members afterwards, the same themes kept emerging: ‘I’ve never seen a play about lesbians before’ ‘Finally, a play about women like me!’ ‘I love that you’ve written a play with gay women without addressing their sexuality’. It’s funny really – to me it isn’t a play about lesbians, it is a play about breaking up. It just happens to be a break-up between lesbians!

Six months later, I have agreed to debut my production at The Hope theatre. As mentioned, we are paying all our cast and crew – credit has to be given to The Hope on this one, it is part of our contract with them that we pay our actors equity minimum. We’re very glad they have that policy, primarily because we strongly believe in paying artists for the work that they do, but also because, with the funds currently available to us it would have been tempting to compromise. Now we’ve done it once, it would feel wrong not to continue to, so a huge thank you to The Hope for making Dogfaced Boy a better employer!

Beause the production is unfunded – and I don’t have a spare £2000 lying around! – we’ve had to do some fundraising to get the Breaks in You and Me to the stage. We ran an amazing LGBT variety night to help raise funds – it happened just after the attacks in Orlando so ended up being a really powerful and heart-warming night.

The rest of the fundraising has been done online at https://www.gofundme.com/dogfacedboy. We’ve had some amazing donations so far and so many friends and family have been really generous. We’ve still got a way to go yet, but I’m optimistic.

So here I am now, a month before opening night. I don’t really sleep much anymore with all the work I’ve got on and I have a really tidy bedroom from all the procrastinating I’ve been doing. In a few weeks we go into the rehearsal room and I’m really excited to see what Nina, Charlotte and Holly are going to create! We hope this will be the beginning of a long life for our theatre company Dogfaced Boy, creating theatre about women, by women, for everyone.

the breaks

The Breaks in You and I is written by Lizzie Milton and directed by Holly Robinson. Set design by Fié Neo. Starring Charlotte Merriam and Nina Shenkman. 

Let’s talk about female characters, not just the lack of them.

@bechdeltheatre’s Beth Watson meets up for a coffee with Whoop ‘n’ Wail’s Ali Kemp to celebrate the upcoming Bechdel Theatre Festival launch.

So Beth, as a fellow actress and feminist, you wanted to do something about representation of women in theatre – what did you do?

I set up a Twitter page. I did it while I was in a room full of feminist theatre types. Actually, I’m not sure if it was my idea or not. I raised the idea of using the Bechdel Test for theatre and someone came up with the idea.

I’m friends with the Bechdel Test Fest people and we started making comparisons between film and theatre.

Twitter is a way of spreading a simple one line message and getting people involved simultaneously. The Bechdel Test is perfect for Twitter because it reduces a very complicated argument to a simple point.

So, why not get people to tweet about Bechdel-busting plays?

When did you know you were onto something?

The amount of tweets I got really quickly. Within a month, I had double the amount of followers than my personal account.

With Twitter, it’s a really supportive thing. Before we’ve even seen a play or passed judgement, we can celebrate that it has women in it, retweet and spread the love.

How did you get from @bechdeltheatre to the Bechdel Theatre Festival?

There is a limit to how far Twitter can take the debate.

I started my own blog but I don’t like ‘Here’s my opinion, take it or leave it’. It’s not my natural way of doing things.

I get a lot more from ‘Hey, let’s meet up for a coffee’.

Where did you find people to meet up for coffee with?

Operating as I normally do by going to lots of events, but rather than saying ‘Oh, it’s a bit shit that there are no parts for women’, I was saying ‘I’ve set up at Twitter page’.

As soon as you say you’re doing something, people say ‘You should speak to …’
Amy Clare Tasker from Gap Salon said why don’t you speak to Whoop ‘n’ Wail; director Bruce Guthrie suggested Naomi Paxton’s Suffrage Plays; Helen Barnett from Sphynx Theatre invited me to one of their salons, and Jo Caird from The Stage wanted to write an article.

You’ve really answered my next question, which was: was it a conscious decision to pull together all the great work that is already being done by practitioners in this field?

Initially I thought, I’ll produce a bunch of new plays that pass the Bechdel Test – but then I found out that’s what you guys do with Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents… and I like it a lot but I don’t want to copy it!

So, I decided I’d be more of a vehicle for spreading the word.

Bechdel Theatre meeting Feb 16
Bechdel Theatre Festival planning Feb 2016. (L-R) Beth Watson, Bechdel Theatre; Lizzie Milton, playwright; Ali Kemp, WnW; Ellie Bland, Siberian Lights; Deborah Klayman, WnW; Sophie Dickson, actor/producer; also present Jen Wallace, Bechdel Test Fest; Karen Healy, Pondering Media

And in doing so, you’ve taken a very collaborative approach to your work.

People were asking me, is it just you? Are you doing this on your own? But I want it to be everyone.

There is a lot of talk about when women make theatre, collaboration is the way we work and I thought this approach was more feminist, but a lot of the people who have been involved with Bechdel Theatre have been men.

Perhaps it’s my social conditioning. Before I do anything, I want to ask everyone else’s opinion. We can see it as asking for permission, and women in particular get slagged off for this, but maybe it’s a positive thing.

If you are doing something about feminism, then it’s about supporting other women and so, how could I do that on my own?

And how does talking about women in theatre connect to women in the world?

It’s the feeling of being welcomed into a room because you share certain struggles or lack of privileges.

That’s what I get when I watch a play that represents women. I want to share what I’ve experienced with other women who don’t usually go to the theatre – it’s a misconception that you have to have a degree to understand theatre.

The best conversations I have about theatre are: ‘Oh my god, wasn’t that woman on stage just like your mum?’ or ‘I couldn’t believe she did that, I thought she was making a huge mistake, but maybe she did it because…’.

How will you know that the Bechdel Theatre Festival has been a success? What does success mean to you?

To get people to see plays with women in them and that someone, if not everyone, brings a friend who doesn’t usually go to the theatre.

I want to bring together theatre buffs and first time theatre goers with the people who make theatre. Not just in a Q&A situation where writers, actors and directors tell audiences what feminist theatre is, but by talking together as equals about how female characters affect them.

And ultimately, I want people talking about female characters, in a way that’s not talking about the lack of them.

tNyDnUIf_400x400Meet Beth at The Bechdel Theatre Festival, which launches a series of pop up conversations on Sunday 20th March 2016 at The Arts Theatre, London;

Or follow the conversation @Bechdeltheatre

See you there!

OOs

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