” … out to change the world one audience member at a time, helping us all embrace our inner bastards, one hair barrette at a time”
In a shimmering and sparkling corner of ‘the swamp’ live The Fems, a dazzling bouffant clown group epitomising the dirty word of gay culture, a theatre of the dispossessed; the world of all things fem.
In a 65 minute kamikaze cabaret, The Fems (written and directed by Jonathan Richardson) bring us into their world. Tackling cultural issues to the ground with humour and style through a series of sketches. Daring, brash, yet never too serious, The Fems are out to change the world one audience member at a time, helping us all embrace our inner bastards, one hair barrette at a time; you can run but you can’t hide.
Costumes and set have a carnival-esque feel, being constructed and deconstructed in front of our eyes. Mixing the symbolic with the referential, The Fems explore what it means to be a Fem, and the issues that come with it, demonstrating once and for all, that it’s hard to be a Fem. Lines sometimes felt a little sketchy, and I’d love to see this piece with further development, but the occasional lack of polish serves the comedy, bringing a feeling of improvisation, flexibility and snappy stand-up wit; it is a show in which you feel anything could happen.
Accessible and enlivening, The Fems celebrates and discusses the complexities of femininity without risking exclusivity. Every member of the audience is included and entertained, and The Fems strong message of support and openness never risks preaching, always maintaining the balance between entertainment and activism. A hilarious and thought-provoking evening for anyone and everyone, The Fems bring us into a ‘living breathing organism of playful theatrical wonder’, bringing the Theatre of the Bouffon new relevance and importance in which the ‘others’ parody the ‘self’, the excluded deconstruct the included, in the grotesquely wonderful world of Fem.
“This year’s Pride was a celebration of love, but we still have a long way to go to encompass and support the entire community”
Due to a mix of scheduling errors and general anxiety over my place within the community, over my three years in London I have never been to the Pride in London celebrations. So this year, invited by some wonderful friends from the Arcola to march in the parade with Hackney Council, I decided to finally brave the crowds and show my support by representing and the LGBTQIA+ community in the creative industries – and I can genuinely say that it was one of the best days of my life.
“following my newly-found dream of being a queer version of Helena Bonham Carter”
In the creative industries, the subject of politics has to be very carefully navigated; whether its a funding application or the sexist undertones of the casting process, being a queer feminist doesn’t always go down well, and it is often necessary to ‘quieten the queer’ in order to earn more mainstream and traditional castings. However, over the last year I have had the fortune of becoming involved with the Arcola Queer Collective, a performance collective dedicated to exploring queer identity and its theatrical representations; a place where I am lucky enough to be encouraged and inspired by strong queer performers, as I attempt to figure out my own identity, searching for my place within the community and following my newly-found dream of being a queer version of Helena Bonham Carter.
Pride plays an incredibly important role in bringing queer stories to the mainstream through a huge variety of art forms; the National Theatre’s ‘Queer Theatre’ programme brings LGBTQIA+ stories to the forefront of the national stage, the DIVA sponsored women’s stage features female acts that have long been relegated, due to the lack of sponsorship and closing of endless queer female spaces. But there is still so much work to be done. This year’s Pride was a celebration of love, of course, but with corporate sponsorship permeating the parade and issues surrounding the representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in their marketing campaigns, many of us recognise that Pride in London still has much further to go.
Walking alongside my friends and colleagues, queer activists and artists, in the Pride parade was one of the most wonderful moments of my time in London. it is the first time that I have genuinely felt comfortable, celebrated, welcomed and supported as a Queer Artist, and I can’t help but hope that the warmth of that security that I was so lucky to feel, my pride in both my politics and myself, can extend to encompass and support the entire community, in all it’s complexity and beauty, equally, fairly and proudly.