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Calm Down, Dear - Camden People's Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CAMDEN People’s Theatre is presenting Calm Down, Dear: A Festival of Feminism – from October 23 to November 10, 2013.

Calm Down, Dear features Bridget Christie, Hannah Nicklin, Kate Craddock, Sara Pascoe, Louise Orwin, Theatre State, Amanda Monfrooe, Racheal Ofori, Rosana Cade, Alan Bissett, Sabrina Mahfouz, Figs in Wigs, Rosie Wilby, Lucy Hutson and Martha Mosse.

Following CPT’s Futureshock (November 2012), Beyond The Joke (January 2013) and Sprint (April 2013) festivals, Calm Down, Dear is the venue’s latest gathering of artists and companies.

Presenting a three-week season of innovative theatre, performance, comedy, cabaret and discussion about feminism, Calm Down, Dear asks: What did it mean then? What does it mean now? Why is it resurgent?

CPT co-directors Jenny Paton and Brian Logan said: “We were struck earlier this year by the number of feminist-themed applications to our annual Sprint festival. That didn’t come out of nowhere: the boom in feminist thought and action – from No More Page 3 to Caitlin Moran, from Jane Austen on banknotes to Everyday Sexism on Twitter – has been one of the most heartening features of public life in the last couple of years.

“Our Calm Down, Dear festival celebrates and channels that. We’re really proud to be hosting some of the most exciting and urgent art to be found at the crest of this feminist new wave.”


Pretty Ugly by Louise Orwin – October 23 – 26 and 31 and November 1, 6, 7 and 9 at 7.30pm; October 30 and November 5 at 9pm.

Creator/performer Louise Orwin said: “This show is about you rating me based solely on my looks. It is also about a recent worldwide trend of teenage girls posting videos on YouTube asking viewers to rate their looks, and about my trail of research into the world of the teenage social networker to try and understand why.”

After a summer of news stories about trolling and cyber-bullying, CPT presents the world premiere of the electrifying Pretty Ugly, by London-based performance and video-maker Louise Orwin. It has been developed as part of CPT’s Starting Blocks scheme.

The performance of Pretty Ugly on Friday, November 1 includes a post-show discussion with leading feminist thinkers and activists.

The Fanny Hill Project from Theatre State in which Pop culture collides with the infamous eighteenth-century pornographic novel Fanny Hill – October 23 – 25 at 9pm.

Theatre State present their critically acclaimed satire on the representation of women in the media. Fanny’s got a story to tell but everyone else is going to tell it for her. Theatre State makes theatre and live art in work that questions the conventions of performance, and dissects and celebrates the experience of living in Britain today. Their show, A Lesson on the Benefits of Being a Troll was performed at CPT’s Sprint 2013 festival.

Poke by Amanda Monfrooe – October 26 at 9pm.

Poke, a new spoken word piece with puppets and pop, is the confession of a failed feminist propagandist. This time A. would abandon ambivalence and – for the first time ever – take to the stage to say something true. And without the postmodern veil of irony! She would speak to the tragic state of womankind, but she f****d it up.

Poke is the winner of the Arches Platform 18 Award 2013. Amanda Monfrooe is a US-born, UK-based performance maker and cultural critic. In 2011 – 12, she was an artistic associate of the National Theatre of Scotland.

A Bic for Her from Bridget Christie – October 27 at 8.30pm.

The star of BBC Radio 4’s Bridget Christie Minds the Gap, BBC2’s It’s Kevin, and Comedy Central’s Alternative Comedy Experience, and recent winner of the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award, brings her celebrated feminist standup show to CPT.

The GB Project by Kate Craddock – October 29 and 30 at 7.30pm.

This is described as a witty and rousing look at the impact of Western women on the shaping of the modern-day Middle East, and an epic tale told on an intimate scale, inspired by maverick British adventurer Gertrude Bell.

The GB Project fuses fragments of text gathered from diaries, letters and biographies, alongside contemporary voices, speeches and iconic footage to raise questions about history, legacy, loyalty and love. Created in collaboration with award-winning writer and director Steve Gilroy, and musician Richard Dawson, The GB Project enjoyed an acclaimed run at Northern Stage on the Edinburgh Fringe 2013.

Portrait by Racheal Ofori – October 29 at 7.30pm.

I know it’s said that money doesn’t buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Porsche than at a bus stop.

Straight-talking but endearing, Portrait is described as an engaging one-woman show with music, dance and the odd satirical joke. It takes audiences on a journey challenging perceptions using caricatures, familiar and unfamiliar.

Racheal Ofori has performed poetry across London as well as in New York. She first performed Portrait at CPT during the Camden Fringe festival, and starred earlier this summer in Bill Buckhurst’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Tooting Arts Club.

Title tbc by Luisa Omielan – October 31 at 9pm.

The creator of the smash hit standup phenomenon What Would Beyoncé Do? brings her new work-in-progress show to CPT.

My Big Sister Taught Me This Lapdance by Rosana Cade – November 1 and 2 at 6.30pm and 9.30pm.

I am a lesbian with a shaved head and a hairy body. She used to lapdance in a wig and call herself Rosanna. She was my idol. She is my sister. We are feminists.

As part of an ongoing collaboration with her older sister, Amy, who has worked as a lap-dancer and in various roles within the sex industry, Rosana Cade presents this intimate performance for one which contains lap-dancing.

My Big Sister… was shown for the first time as part of Arches Live 2012, where it received a 5-star review from Mary Brennan in The Herald. Rosana Cade is a queer artist based in Glasgow, who creates experiential performances that challenge perceptions of different sexualities. She is co-founder of Glasgow’s BUZZCUT festival.

Nineties Woman by Rosie Wilby – November 1 at 9.45pm.

Award-winning comedian/storyteller Rosie Wilby traces a personal journey through the changing iconography of womanhood in the 1990s. Starting with treasured old copies of the DIY feminist newspaper she worked on at York University, Wilby tracks down the women involved, intercutting video interviews about what they’re doing now and what happened to their feminist project with archive photos and a personal narrative about her own journey through riotgrrl, poll tax riots, Reclaim The Night rallies, New Labour, lad mags, Girl Power and Dyke TV.

Calm Down, Dear cabaret night with various artists – November 2 at 7.30pm.

A night of cabaret, short performances, installations and art on the theme of feminism. Acts confirmed so far include Lucy Hutson with Britney Spears custody battle vs Zeus in swan rape shocker; Sabrina Mahfouz (Dry Ice, One Hour Only) performing her No More Page 3 Campaign Poem; a performance by Rachel Mars (The Way You Tell Them), audio work by Hannah Nicklin and Body Sculpture by the performance artist Martha Mosse.

Short films night curated by the UnderWire festival – November 3 at 7.30pm.

The UnderWire festival – with which CPT is partnering on Calm Down, Dear – launched in 2010 with the belief that women working in the UK film industry needed more encouragement and a bigger platform for their work. UnderWire looks to recognise the best short work made by women across a range of crafts – from director to cinematographer; screenwriter to editor.

On November 3 and for one night only, UnderWire producer Chloe Trayner is curating a bespoke bill of feminist short films.

Devoted & Disgruntled – November 3 from 12pm to 4pm.

Are female independent theatre makers more at risk in the current climate? Cartoon De Salvo’s Artistic Director, Alex Murdoch, interviewed seven extraordinary people who are taking risks to make great work, but remain dependent on project funding with no security. With Equity statistics showing 22% of jobs going to women, Murdoch started Birdhouse, a project started to address the vulnerability of female artists working in this context.

After talking to Stella Duffy, to Matilda Leyser, Caroline Horton, Jemma McDonnell, Charlotte Vincent, Angela Clerkin, and Angela de Castro about being inspirational women making independent work, Murdoch now seeks to open the conversation by collaborating with Improbable and CPT.

Devoted and Disgruntled uses Open Space technology which gives anyone the chance to propose a starting point for discussion, then take part in one of these conversations, flit between them all, or head to the bar. As ever, all are welcome.

Ban This Filth! by Alan Bissett – November 5 at 7.30pm.

CPT is hosting the London premiere of novelist and playwright Alan Bissett’s electrifying solo show about men and feminism – a critical and audience hit on this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

“Andrea Dworkin: radical feminist. Alan Bissett: man. One stage. Bissett plays ‘himself’, telling stories from his own life, with a penis, with Dworkin, one of the most controversial women in history, having a few things to say to him. Expect laughter, Led Zeppelin, and a live ‘reconditioning’ of a man who’s had it all too easy. Until now.”

Alan Bissett’s novel Death of a Ladies’ Man was shortlisted for the Scottish Arts Council Fiction of the Year prize. His play Turbo Folk was nominated for Best New Play at the 2010 Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland. And he was Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer of the Year 2011.

We, Object from Figs in Wigs – November 6 at 9pm.

We, Object is an absurdist amalgamation of visual puns, word play and amateur dancing that deals with objects and objectification. It begins with a slide show and ends with a dance routine. The middle is somewhat embarrassing and a plethora of miniature props begin to complicate the bigger picture. As the show progresses it becomes increasingly unclear as to who (or what) is (or isn’t) being objectified.

Figs in Wigs are five women placing themselves in the spotlight, using comedy to highlight something so frequently laughed off. Or perhaps it’s just a show about small things… After a sell-out run at The Roundhouse in February 2012, Figs in Wigs developed We, Object with support from Arts Council England, Cambridge Junction, New Wolsey Ipswich and the Basement Brighton.

Sara Pascoe: The Feminine Heavy by Sara Pascoe – November 7 at 9pm.

Pascoe has done bits of stand up about image, the media, boobs, adolescence, sex-drive and Chantelle Houghton before, but never in one show all about her female experience. And she never will again. Pascoe has starred on the BBC’s Live at the Apollo, C4’s Stand Up for the Week and Live at the Comedy Store on Comedy Central. She also presented her theatre piece, Emily’s Very Sad Play as part of CPT’s Beyond the Joke festival (January, 2013).

Beta Public, curated by Thomas Martin and Pat Ashe – November 8 at 7.30pm.

Videogames. Performance. Maybe these words mean nothing to you, but trust us: you’ve been waiting your whole life for a night that combines the two. Beta Public is about new games, performance, experimenting, collaborating, and sharing awesome stuff, and having a bit of an adventure. You can test amazing games and chat to their developers, hear provocative talks and watch exhilarating performances. Beta Public is for anyone curious about the cutting edge of play.

Thomas Martin and Pat Ashe bring their hugely successful gaming-meet-performance event back to CPT for a bespoke special edition exploring feminism in the word of videogames.

Everyday Sexism works-in-progress with various artists – November 10 at 7.30pm.

In autumn 2013, CPT issued an open call for submissions to present new works-in-progress on the theme of “everyday sexism”. On November 10, five short commissioned pieces responding to that theme will be presented. Artists tbc.

Calm Down, Dear is suitable for ages 12+.

Tickets: All shows £10 (£8 concessions); except: My Big Sister Taught Me This Lapdance when tickets are £8 (£6 concessions). All are available from the box office on 08444 77 1000 or online at