About six months ago, I left the collective I had been performing with in order to develop a solo act. One of the biggest differences I have found since working alone is that I no longer have a built-in mechanism for getting feedback on work in progress and bouncing ideas off other people. Working with a group, you get that automatically at rehearsals. Working as a solo performer, I need to actively seek out opportunities to try out new material. I’ve taken part in Funny Women‘s workshops for stand-ups, and found them really helpful for boosting confidence and getting ideas, though they are a little pricey. I’ve also been along as an audience member to Oxford’s Theatre Scratch Night, where directors, writers and performers have a chance to share work in progress in a theatre and get detailed feedback from the audience. I hope to present my own work at Scratch Night at some point, though I haven’t got up the courage yet! Both these events are great opportunities to try out new ideas with a supportive group. However, I found myself thinking that, as a feminist performer, it would also be useful to have something more specific to my needs.
I write my material with particular political values and goals in mind. When I talk about the ways that I am marginalised as a bisexual woman, I want not only to challenge those attitudes that affect me directly, but also to avoid perpetuating ideas that marginalise other groups in the process. I try to be alert to the ways that language can reinforce oppression, and the ways my own privilege can lead me to unintentionally exclude others. It’s hard, and sometimes I get it wrong.
I think it would be helpful for me – and hopefully for other feminist performers too! – to get together with a group of performers who share the same broad values, so that we can help one another to develop our performance in ways that further those values. The aim would be to share work in progress with our peers, and offer constructive criticism based on a shared understanding of the structures of privilege and oppression we all aim to challenge. Ideally the group would include people with diverse experiences and perspectives, so that we are each able to challenge and educate one another.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in getting involved with, please comment on this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Edited to clarify a few points] At this stage, I’m just trying to gauge whether this is something people are interested in. We can talk about dates and venues and so on once there are a few of us to have that conversation. It would probably be 2-3 hours at a weekend, and the cost to each participant would be as much as is necessary to cover venue hire. I realise this is all fairly vague, so don’t worry – you don’t need to commit to anything! This is just me putting out feelers to see if there is interest. More specific details will be advertised as soon as they’re decided – if you want to be involved in helping to make those decisions, then please get in touch!
Realistically, anything organised by me is probably going to take place in Oxford or London. However, if you’d like to hold a workshop elsewhere, comment on this post anyway as you may find other people in your area that way!
I hope to be meeting with some of you in person soon.