Review: An Octoroon

It’s been a while since I last posted something! This is partly due to expensive life things happening, and theatre unfortunately having to take a back seat for a while. However, if you do find yourself in that situation, it’s always worth signing up to receive email offers from theatres. I got an email from the National Theatre and they were selling tickets for a tenner to watch the preview of An Octoroon by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins. I’d heard good things during its run at the Orange Tree, so thought – why not?

An Octoroon is an adaptation of the 1859, The Octoroon by Dion Boucicault, a play about a white plantation owner falling for an Octoroon woman (someone who is an eighth black). The play opens with Ken Nwosu, playing a depressed playwright, explaining how he plans to put on an adaptation of The Octoroon to work through his depression. This introduction monologue is engaging, as he speaks candidly to ‘the white people’ in the audience in nothing but his boxers. He then begins to cover his face in white paint with rap music blaring in the background – it is here that we are introduced to the culture-clash theme and willingness to play around with taboos as the actors paint their faces white, black and red throughout.

ken_nwosu_alistair_toovey_in_an_octoroon_at_the_national_theatre_photo_by_helen_murray
Ken Nwosu (left) and Alistair Toovey (right) (Source: National Theatre website)

The transition into the world of the play is truly magical – the lighting dims and we see something white in the darkness – the lights suddenly come up and the stage is covered in white powder and we see Cellist, Kewsi Edman in the centre. As a rule, the lighting and design by Elliot Griggs and Georgia Lowe is stunning-  it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.

We are then introduced to house slaves, Minnie (Vivian Oparah) and Dido (Emmanuella Cole). Through quick-witted dialogue and the energetic persona of Minnie, we establish a brilliant sense of sisterhood as they gossip about everyone on the plantation and joke about white masters sleeping with their slaves – an everyday occurrence it seems. Minnie talks about which white man she would choose to sleep with – this is met with a witty jibe from Dido: “Don’t think you’d have much of a say in the matter”. These women carry the play as they become useful plot devices, building up the world of the plantation.

emmanuella_cole_in_an_octoroon_at_the_national_theatre
Emmanuella Cole playing Dido. (Source: The National Theatre website)

Ultimately, this isn’t a love story, in fact, this adaptation makes the declarations of love between plantation owner, George (Ken Nwosu) and Octoroon, Zoe (Iola Evans) a mockery in its melodramatic delivery. This production explores racial taboos, identity and the horror-esque appearance of depression as the whole play appears to be inside the playwright’s mind. Throughout the play, the playwright’s depression rabbit appears eerily on stage as the lights flicker and sound becomes distorted – this imagery is terrifyingly disturbing, yet intriguing as it appears quite separate from the world of the play, tap dancing between the characters. I was sufficiently shook.

The second acts picks up the action a bit, as George loses the plantation and the slaves have to be sold – including Zoe. Nwosu breaks the fourth wall by bringing the house lights up and instructing the backstage crew to remove the panels from the floor, leaving one in the middle to act as the pedestal for the slave auction. The music is brooding, he simply watches them while they work. We then snap back into the action of the scene as Nwosu craftily plays both George and the evil villain, M’Closky who seeks to own Zoe and the plantation. A fight between the two characters ensues, and we see Nwosu frantically changing costumes as he fights with himself. This section of the play, as well as the fast-paced retelling of Act 4 offers some light relief, which is starkly contrasted later on with a huge projection of the famous image of black lynchings. There’s a stunned silence in the room. The themes from this 1859 play are summed up in this one image, and we’re left speechless.

The lighting, set and use of makeup in this production is simply incredible and are the most memorable elements of the piece. The play itself suffers from a few pacing problems – lamenting on certain scenes at the beginning for far too long, and then racing through the action in Act 4, but ultimately, the theatrical experience as a whole is so visually powerful, you forgive it.

An Octoroon is on till 18 July – BOOK NOW.

Follow me here and on my Twitter, TheatreGirl_94 

Advertisements

12 Really Useful Things I Learned about Playwriting

Over the last ten weeks, I attended a playwriting course called Write Away, hosted by the wonderful Laura Horton and Vicky Long. This group provided an affordable opportunity to gain useful writing skills, meet other budding playwrights and get advice from a variety of people in the theatre industry. We had directors, critics, producers and theatre makers come in to discuss their experiences and how we could apply them to our work.

Here are a number of things I learned and will bring forward into my future creative endeavours, which I hope other playwrights will find helpful!

  1. Make sure your play has a central dramatic question. Are your characters running away or finding something?

  2. As a character building exercise, think about: What they look like, the way they speak, something significant that’s happened to them and a personality trait they might have. 
  3. Read new plays! Royal Court sell texts for as little as £3, for example. 
  4. Make a list of things that make you passionate – your play should address at least one. 
  5. When writing a short play, structure is everything. You don’t have time to ramble – each line has to serve a purpose. (e.g – furthering the plot or building a relationship) 
  6. Write a list of external and internal changes that can happen to a character and how that can impact their life in the future. 
  7. To get your head around exposition, write three short scenes about the same scenario. In the first, the characters dump all the information of an event that happened prior, in the second, they have different accounts of what happened, and in the third, they disagree about what happened and argue about it. 
  8. What does your character desire and do they subtly show that in your play? 
  9. Don’t set out to please an audience – set out to write good theatre. 
  10. Sometimes you can solve a problem with your play by getting actors to work on it. Moving around a space can really help solve any issues 
  11. When reading a script, get the actors to change places after every scene, that way you can tell if some scenes are too long or busy. 
  12. WE NEED MORE WOMEN IN THEATRE. PERIOD. Part of that is throwing away our self-doubt and telling ourselves that we can write, direct or act in that play.

Now I just need to set aside time each week to write without a group structure behind me – yikes. Wish me luck and send motivation on Twitter please: @TheatreGirl_94

Review: Dust

Yesterday, I braved the “Beast from the East” to watch Milly Thomas’ Dust – a play about mental illness and suicide. When informing people about the content of this play, I was met with questioning frowns: “Why would you want to spend your evening watching that?”

Why would anyone want to see an hour long monologue about a young woman who kills herself?

Dust answers that question.

We are immediately placed into a very small and intimate space on the top floor of the Soho theatre, with only four mirrors and a steel autopsy table. Thomas, the writer and performer of this piece draws us into Alice’s life – or death, as it turns out. Alice has killed herself and is overseeing the events that follow. For the next hour and ten minutes, the audience are nestled inside the warped mind of Alice as she unlocks the thoughts and desires she left unsaid during her life.

British Theatre .com
Milly Thomas on the set of Dust. Image Sourced from BritishTheatre.com

Thomas effortlessly introduces Alice’s family and friends as her dead self visits them. We see the vulnerability around family life, and the cracks that appear after something this traumatic occurs. Thomas showcases her incredible talent to shift her body language and voice to depict a conflict between her mother and rich aunt. Contrastingly, we see the deep sorrow and inability to express grief within her father and brother – her brother turning to drugs for comfort instead. What this play so craftily portrays through the fallibility of its characters, is that many of us are ill-equipped to manage mental illness or its aftermath.

We see the depiction of female sexuality, as Alice appears to resent the sex she has with her boyfriend – she describes it as uncomfortable and thinks about ways to kill herself while she endures his pounding, squirming when he touches the scars on her arms. Yet, we see a different side to her as she watches in awe at her best friend having sex when she revisits the flat she used to live in.

The tone shifts are dealt with seamlessly – one minute we’re laughing at the horsey replacement housemate, the next we feel the deceit Alice feels at not being told that her best friend is pregnant. Throughout, Alice is reminded that she can no longer have an influence over her life and others – she cannot fix this. This message prevails throughout the piece as Alice wishes to fix the situations that go on around her, but is left feeling helpless.

The ending is perhaps the most shocking as we are forced to watch her death – lights flash and her body convulses on the table as paramedics attempt to revive her. The play closes with the same statement it opens with: “I think this is the end”.

Dust leaves you squirming, unable to watch, unable to listen – but its function acts as the first step towards opening up the conversation around mental illness and suicide. It smashes through the taboo by talking openly, honestly and with a sharp wit. Thomas is a genius and should be commended for her bravery in presenting this raw depiction of such a challenging subject.

For theatre updates and shenanigans, please follow my Twitter @TheatreGirl_94

Review: Oranges and Elephants

My Friday night was spent at the charming Hoxton Hall – a refurbished music hall, soaked in history – which is partially enhanced by the new musical currently on there: Oranges and Elephants, a show exploring the life and times of the all-female Victorian gangs of London.

We’re treated to a full female production here – both on stage and off. Working class writer, Lil Warren, conceived the idea, creating a musical with music and arrangements by Jo Collins and direction by Susie McKenna. It’s a lively interpretation of the two infamous Victorian gangs; the Oranges of Bethnal Green, and the Elephants of Elephant and Castle, pushed towards crime to escape crippling poverty.

We’re welcomed by the boisterous and bellowing Chair, played by Susannah van den Berg. She narrates and shifts the story along, at one point breaking up the action by directing the characters herself, for a wonderful comic effect. And, in true music hall fashion, she encourages the audience to sing along using the song sheets provided. On the whole, the songs are fun and catchy, with hilarious feminist banter:

You’ll never tire of London

Her style, and vicious wit

But if you have a fanny

You are in the bloomin’…

Shiny bubbles!

We are introduced to the Irish women of the Elephant gang where we meet the sombre, yet incredibly talented, Nellie (Christina Tedders), who dreams of being a star, but also happens to be an exceptional thief, dragged into the gang life and dictated to by their ring leader, Annie (Liz Kitchen). These women are tied to “The Family Code”, as expressed through song. Tedders stands out throughout, with a stunning, yet fittingly melancholy tone to her voice, and like the rest of the cast, is able to pick up an instrument at any given moment. These women carry the whole show, as they sing and play all the instruments – from violin through to accordion, to create an authentic music hall-esque sound.

On the other side of the coin we have the Jewish gang, the Oranges – an altogether less “family” like gang, who mainly bully and abuse each other. They are led by the “apparently” monstrous Flo, played by Kate Adams. Fundamentally, this part is miscast; her soft voice and body language does not scream gang leader. I think Rebecca Bainbridge who plays psychotic Ada would have been a better, more terrifying fit – although, I feel she overacts at times. As a gang, I find the Oranges less believable and more like Victorian caricatures (or perhaps it’s just unfortunate that they’re all dressed like the Artful Dodger). As a general note though, I really appreciate the period dress and set design by Sara Perks.

27537492_10212994661234300_1023307294_o
The stage at Hoxton Hall showing a detailed map of London.

The whole status-quo is tipped on its head when Mary (Sinead Long) arrives in London from the North; she’s thrown from pillar to post, becoming a precious commodity and bargaining tool between the gangs. However, here is where my confusion around the musical itself begins. It appears to showcase itself as a strong, female-led cast, tackling the issues women faced at the time, yet when the Oranges have possession of Mary, they act like men – leering, forcing themselves onto her and caring only about her aesthetic beauty. They are simply mirroring the Victorian patriarchal norms of the time.

Nevertheless, the story is broken up by a beautiful, Tipping the Velvet-esque tragic love story between Mary and Nellie, as the two attempt to escape. At this point they share a charming little duet, striking the balance between wonderful comic timing and tenderness.

This show is a fascinating insight into an area of history so rarely investigated – the lives of real, working class women. I understand that it didn’t receive rave reviews – but I for one am glad to see more women creating theatre. Over thirty women were involved in this project, which is incredibly inspiring as a woman just dipping her foot into the theatre industry. I’m sick of seeing re-runs of tired, patriarchal plays such as Glengarry Glen Ross – traipsing through the same masculine power-plays. The stage is for exploration, and I for one am glad of shows like Oranges and Elephants that shine a light on the stories still left untold.

Please join in the discussion and connect with me on Twitter: theatregirl_94

Review: The Barber Shop Chronicles

One of my favourite things about living in London is the last minute theatre tickets. Last Friday I managed to get through the National Theatre’s Friday Rush, where they release £20 tickets at 1pm on Friday for their shows the following week.

So when I got through the online queue of people I was met with a decision…what to watch? The National have a lot of great stuff going on, including The Follies and Pinocchio. However, it was The Barber Shop Chronicles that caught my eye – a play tackling themes of race and identity in a variety of communities, all within barber shops. I knew this was the play I wanted to see.

First impressions – I love Rae Smith’s set. It’s in the round with a variety of chairs scattered

24203587_10212502663214657_188209436_n
Rae Smith’s set

around and signs for each barbershop surround the edge. A light up wire globe with a disco ball in the centre comes down from the ceiling and a sound deck is placed on the stage playing upbeat hip hop and R&B. The energy is palpable. The actors bring audience members into the space and pretend to cut their hair or place them in the waiting area to chat. It’s the most natural audience interaction I’ve ever seen – everyone is at ease.

With dialogue written by talented poet Inua Ellams, the play opens with authentic and rhythmic language as we dart from barbershops in Lagos, Johannesburg, Harare, Accra, Kampala and south London. The universal conversations of race, politics and identity draws these cultures together into one signifying image: The African man.

We are met with moments of heartbreak as a man comes to terms with his father’s questionable past; moments of culture shifting and young vs old as the evolution of pidgin is discussed; and moments of hilarity as we’re introduced to a camp, gaudy plaid suit wearing man complaining of an ingrown hair on his neck.

The humanity of the piece is what makes it so passionate and loveable. However, every scene covers a lot of ground – there isn’t much room for rest, especially as it runs at 1 hour 45 without an interval. Their fast-paced speech and varied dialect are hard to keep up with, especially at the beginning. Nevertheless, the fast-paced aspect is what keeps the play moving, with excellent, energetic transitions between scenes.

What I got from this play is the frailty of black masculinity. There’s pent-up aggression left over from historical and present day injustices – this need to express how they feel, but they struggle to communicate. Barber shops function as their sanctuary, therapy and escape. This is a crucial piece of work that informs, enlightens and entertains. Ellams truly is the master of modern day storytelling.

If you’re as fascinated by the subject of masculinity as I am, you might want to take a look at my blog about Robert Webb’s talk.

Don’t forget to like, follow and tweet me @theatregirl_94

Review: Romantics Anonymous

I’m officially living in London now – still feels a bit surreal if I’m honest! Everything has happened very fast and up until now I haven’t had a moment to breathe. Thankfully, I don’t start my new job until next week, so I have spent this week doing life admin, catching up with London friends, gymming and of course – watching a bit of theatre!

And what better place to start than The Globe? I managed to nab tickets for £20 to Romantics Anonymous, a musical adapted by the wonderful Emma Rice from the French-Belgium film Les Emotifs Anoymes. Tickets would have normally been around £40 for seats near the front, but because I’m part of The Globe mailing list, they gave me a voucher code to get £20 tickets – pretty neat. For ticket deals, I definitely recommend joining theatre mailing lists, as well as some of these money-saving tips from a blog I did a while back!

Anyway, I couldn’t have asked for a better show to welcome me to London. It’s a quirky, tongue-in-cheek romance between talented chocolate maker, Anglique (Carly Bawden) and Chocolate Factory owner, Jene-Rene (Dominic Marsh) – both very socially awkward people, fumbling blindly through the small challenges of the every-day. It’s so charming, my cheeks hurt from smiling. It’s so rare that two introverts are placed as the stars of a show, but it works wonderfully, shedding light on the characters who struggle to have a voice. Here are some quick reasons why you need to book your ticket to see this show NOW:

The Characters

Angelique is truly adorable. She’s a ridiculously talented chocolate maker, but shies away from the pressure of taking credit for her work. Jene-Rene is lovingly hopeless, listening to meditation tapes while his chocolate business he inherited from his cautious (and hilarious) father (Philip Cox) begins to crumble around him. 

The supporting characters tie the whole show together. Each has their distinct charm, but two in particular stand out for me. Marc Antolin plays Ludo, a sassy Welshman who works at the Chocolate Factory, rolling his eyes and passing judgement. He’s gutsy and mesmerising to watch. Similarly, I can’t take my eyes off Joanna Riding who plays both Magda, the strong and stable Chocolate Factory worker, and Angelique’s powerhouse mother. Her presence is astounding and her singing voice, incredible – a microphone isn’t necessary!

Magda
Magda (Joanna Riding) Sourced from The Globe Website.

The Set

Designer, Lez Brotherston hit the nail on the head with this one. Everything about the set is charmingly vintage, with neon light signs for each establishment the characters encounter. It’s jazzy, bold and camp – summarising the show as a whole really, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. It also adds to the comedy of the piece as characters announce where they are, gesturing above, and the neon light sign they require lights up. So camp, so wonderful.

Stage
A good view of the stage. Sourced from The Globe Website.

The Music

The classic French accordion undertones go hand in hand with the folky music – Emma’s staple style. Overall, the music by Michael Kooman, and the hilarious lyrics by Chrisopher Dimond capture the whole essence of the show and bring it all together.

So what are you waiting for? Romantics Anonymous runs till 6 January 2018, so book your tickets!

Don’t forget to follow and tweet me at @theatregirl_94

Review: What I Really Wanted To Say Was

Fresh out of East 15, Lance Jeffery, Nyke Jackson and Rosie Jane burst onto the theatre scene with What I Really Wanted To Say Was at the Camden Fringe on 14-Aug. It’s presented as a social satire about prejudice in the workplace. The fourth wall is immediately broken as they introduce themselves, Nyke identifying as a mixed race male, Rosie as a mixed race female bisexual and Lance as a white male. 

They then draw us into a variety of workplace scenarios, focussing on the challenges each of them face on an every day basis; sexism, racism, ADHD and dyslexia. We are introduced to Terry Bellowman – a cocky, white male boss, symbolising all that is politically incorrect and backwards about society. Then we have Orin Sundrie, a new member of the team multi-roled by all three actors as a strong figure of diversity within the workplace.

This particular workplace is an advertising agency, attempting to present their adverts as ‘multi cultural’ and ‘diverse’ to the point where it comes full circle, prompting questions around what sells in the advertising industry: white, black, gay, hetero, gender, etc?

But the backwards culture and attitude starts within. Rosie plays a female Orin who is constantly sexualised, harassed in the office and ridiculed for her afro hairstyle. For these reasons, she struggles to make her way up the ranks in the business. She later shares the shocking statistic that 1 in 10 women are sexually harassed in the workplace.

Nyke plays an ADHD Orin who struggles to achieve in an agency that fails to understand the way he works and functions everyday and purposefully marginalise him for it.

Lance then plays a dyslexic Orin who is ridiculed for his reading difficulties, resulting in an effective physical fight to enhance the visual and physical power over Orin who relies on audio a lot to digest information.

Nyke, Lance and Rosie are very strong actors with bewitching stage presence and the content they present is engaging and relevant. You can really tell that a piece of each of them has been put into the show. However, I’m unsure of what to take away from it – after addressing such strong issues, the end is a little inconclusive. I’m aware of the difficulties faced within the workplace, but a solution or at least a stronger message at the end would have a more powerful impact.

Overall though, this is a strong piece with a lot of potential.

I wish them all the best for any future runs of the show. There’s a lot going on at the Camden Fringe, so for anyone who’s around, check out what’s onDon’t forget to like, share and tweet me @theatregirl_94

Keeping Shakespeare Fresh in 2017

How is it that plays that were written almost 400 years ago still bear relevance today? I’m aware that not everyone is a big fan of Shakespeare, namely Emma Rice, Artistic Director of The Globe who stated:

There’s a lot of theatre, some of it Shakespeare some not, which feels like medicine. You feel like if you can get through it, you’re a better person. I have no interest in that; I can’t bear to be in a theatre that feels like medicine.” (Telegraph, 2016).

If a Shakespeare play does feel like medicine, then it’s obviously not been done very well. I recall watching a production of Hamlet at the Tobacco Factory last year – not that I’m a massive fan of Hamlet as a play anyway, but this production was unbelievably dry. It went down like cod liver oil (if we’re going with the medicine simile). Kate Wyver’s review summarised that the reason for this was a lack of risk – the production was far too safe.

We’ve all studied and watched Shakespeare till we’re blue in the face. Something has to give. This is why I’m highlighting a couple of productions I have seen, and one that I have booked to see that break the mould, make us think and drag out themes and emotions that we may not have even considered before.

  • Julius Caesar, Bristol Old Vic: Starring Julian Glover from Game of Thrones, this production chose to take a contemporary route, which really accentuated the political angle of the play. The crowds shouting Caesar’s name may as well have shouted Corbyn’s – their demeanour very similar to the passionate Glastonbury attendees only a few weeks back. I had never read or watched Julius Caesar, so had no idea what to expect, but this production was fresh and defiant. The themes of treachery, political arrogance and scheming felt ever present; while Caesar is accused of being a dangerous threat to his people, Corbyn was bashed by every tabloid going leading up to the election.

    Julius-Caesar-at-Bristol-Old-Vic-Lynn-Farleigh-Calpurnia-Julian-Glover-Julius-Caesar-Photo-by-Simon-Purse
    Julian Glover as Julius Caesar (Sourced from Bristol Post)


  • Twelfth Night, The Globe: This funky, glittery 70’s inspired production was bursting with life and was simply glorious. Not only did it include the fabulous drag queen Le Gateau Chocolat, who truly encapsulated the cross-dressing theme, but Katy Owen who played Malvolio stole the show with her crazed body contortions and facial expressions. I was unfamiliar with the play before going, but the whole concept worked incredibly well. The cheesy camp-ness of the whole thing was in keeping with the cross-dressing, bi-curious elements the plot lends itself to. Luckily, you can still catch this production if you’re quick – it’s on till 5-Aug.

    big
    Le Gateau Chocolat. Sourced from The Globe website.
  • The Tempest, Tea Powered Theatre: A local Bristol theatre company, Tea Powered Theatre specialises in steam punk inspired theatre while serving cream teas with a fabulous selection of teas from Bristol Tea Company. This particular production of The Tempest is directed by Calum Anderson and is set in space where reality ceases to exist; up is down and white is black. Nothing is as it seems. A group of stranded astronauts delve their way into a world of discarded technology and madness. There are a few showings of this in September, so don’t miss out!
    5-Sep – 7-Sep: Bierkeller Theatre (Cream tea not included)
    9-Sep – 10-Sep: All Saints Church (Cream tea included) – I’ll be going to this one! 😉
    20245399_880094488807494_2891745451260021271_n

If you have seen any Shakespeare productions recently that you’d like to mention, then please comment or tweet me @theatregirl_94

Blush: Revenge Porn & Gender

It’s been a busy month; I went to Venice and Verona with my sister and it was so beautiful, I want to go back! However, this has meant that there have been 0 theatre trips and 0 blog posts – oops.

That all changed this weekend though, as I went to see Blush by Snuffbox at the Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol. Written by the talented Charlotte Josephine and directed by Ed Stambollouian.

This is not a review, it’s more of a commentary about the subjects raised, because I feel like they should be addressed. But as a side note, I thought the play was incredible and an excellent exploration of these themes.

Blush addresses our relationship with the online world and sex, and frankly, how we as human beings haven’t had a moment to truly adjust to it. We follow three women, energetically multi-roled by Charlotte herself; one, a rejected lover looking for revenge, another, an 18 year old girl seeking approval from the online world, and her older sister, worried sick about her younger sister’s situation.

Then we have Daniel Foxsmith, multi-roling the two male characters. One, a young, bright entrepreneur who creates apps for a living, another, a father with two young daughters.

Revenge Porn

Their separate stories slowly unravel, until they all seem to compliment each other, delivering a strong, punchy message through various voices. We discover how regardless of the situation, women tend to come off worse. A leaked sex tape is seen by 30,000 people on various porn sites; the young 18 year old girl is mentally scarred, her reputation tarnished. Meanwhile, the rejected lover shares videos of her boyfriend and it’s simply shrugged at – she’s accused of being a headcase, she’s suspended from work and forced to apologise. The question here is – where is the young boy who shared the sex tape? What happened to him? He is voiceless, faceless, exempt from shame.

It was discovered that there were 1,160 reported incidents of revenge porn from April 2015-December 2015, from 31 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales (BBC News). Unsurprisingly, in a separate report, 90% of victims are women, so no wonder Charlotte was fuelled to write this piece. This isn’t just a question of cyber-rape (because that’s basically what it is), this is a much bigger question about gender and the way women are still often viewed as sexual objects to be taken advantage of. This does not work in reverse. It just doesn’t.

Sexual Rejection

This plot line is accompanied by the young entrepreneur, giving a talk about online behaviour and apps. He goes on a date with a woman, Lucy, who attended his talk and she challenges him about the effect his app might have on the people who use it. He makes a pass and is rejected. Hurt and drunk, he heads to social media, stating that she led him on. He is fuelled by followers who accuse Lucy of being a ‘cock tease’ – he is confused by the stance, the overwhelming majority who shame this woman they don’t know, simply because he read the signs wrong.

Is this about male pride, fundamentally? Normally, when a woman rejects sexual advances from a man, she’s accused of “friend zoning”. On the other hand, when a man rejects a woman’s advances, she tends to question her self-worth. This is a massive generalisation, I know, but you see where I’m going here. This can contribute to rape culture, as the friend-zone theory became a grotesque slogan: “She put me in the friend zone/I put her in the rape zone”. For so long, women’s sexual desires have become muffled through “friend zone” accusations, porn and unsolicited dick pics.

Guilt

Blush addresses the underlying guilt within the male characters. The young entrepreneur is ashamed by his following, who all accuse Lucy of being a slut, and that they’ve ‘got his back’. He’s bewildered that while he gets a slap on the wrist, Lucy is sent to exile by the online community. Meanwhile, the father character accidentally clicks on the leaked sex tape of the 18 year old girl and sees the very same poster his daughter has in her room in the background. It’s not until he imagines his own daughter in that situation, that he is forced to reassess his relationship with sex.

They are trapped in their own masculinity and are waking up to it and analysing their position in the world. Charlie Glickman refers to it as “The Man Box”. When masculinity is threatened, (e.g. when they experience sexual rejection), they fall outside of the box; gay, female or loser. This can eventually lead to aggression in order to prove their masculinity in a more obvious and open way, which in turn, can contribute to rape culture and revenge porn.

This kind of theatre is so important; it opens up dialogue and gives us a snap shot into this microcosm of society to allow us to engage with it as a whole. Blush was a shocking and thought-provoking piece which inspired me to write about thoughts I’ve had for a very long time on this subject, but had no starting point to bounce off.

If you’re interested in the subject of masculinity, you might want to attend Robert Webb’s talk at the Festival of Ideas in September.

And if you don’t already, please follow my blog and find me on Twitter.

I can’t afford theatre tickets – help!

Before I begin – it’s been forever since my last blog, I know. However, I’m working on the second draft of my play instead, so I’m forgiven slightly, right?

Anyway, let’s get crackin’.

As you can probably tell, I love nothing more than seeing live theatre. You can’t beat the atmosphere, storytelling and energy – but unfortunately, it’s addictive. And like most drugs, it’s damn expensive. This can be tricky when it’s been a few weeks and you’re getting the itch to see something new but your bank app is telling you otherwise (I’d rather not look at it at all if I’m honest.)

So, I decided to hunt for ways and means to see slightly cheaper theatre – I’m aware it’s an expensive hobby anyway, but it’s nice to save a few pennies here and there. So here goes…

1) Stand-by seats: Now I know not all theatres do this, but I always manage to get cheap £6 tickets for big shows at the Theatre Royal Bath. They’re not the best seats in the house, granted, but times are tough and you have to go see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime somehow. If you want to attend an evening performance, you have to call them at midday that same day, however, if you want to book a matinee, then you can call and book at any time.

2) Filler seats: Big shows need to look busy on press night; both for the venue and the actors sake. This is why there are sites dedicated to selling last minute cheap seats. You have to pay a membership fee, but the insane savings will make up for it – with some tickets flogged for just £1! It’s first-come-first-serve though, so you have to be on the ball. Some useful sites to check out are: Play by Play, The Audience Club and My Box Office.

3) Small, independent theatre: Size doesn’t matter; it’s not all about the big shows. In fact, when it comes to watching plays especially, I prefer a smaller, more intimate space. What’s even better is that tickets tend to be cheaper. Some examples of small, independent theatre spaces in Bristol and Bath are: The Wardrobe, The Rondo, The Alma Tavern and The Bierkeller Theatre.

4) Work in progress/previews: Artists are always wanting to test out their work to see what works and what doesn’t – which means you get to see elements of the show most audiences will never get to see, and for much cheaper! I managed to purchase cheaper tickets for both Michael McIntyre and Russell Howard’s work in progress shows and they were incredible. Also, a lot of shows tend to put on a couple of ‘preview’ performances before they start their run, so It’s worth keeping an eye out for those, as preview tickets tend to be heavily discounted.

Woo hoo!

I hope this helps all the theatre nerds out there on a budget – believe me, I will do all I can to save the dollar, yet still do the thing I love most.

Like, comment, share and tweet me @theatregirl_94 – Merci Buckets ❤