SARAH Blanc travels from beauty product addict to born-again feminist,
choreographer and comedian in her partly autobiographical show My Feminist Boner
at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on February 13.
Blanc’s performance “grapples with extreme societal pressures on the
female body and the conflict women feel between indulging in the beauty
industry and maintaining their feminist ideals”.
“Why does the world place such unattainable beauty standards on women?
What does it mean to be a feminist today?” she asks.
My Feminist Boner combines honest confessionals and a show-and-tell of
beauty contraptions with conversations with her feminist-hating Dad,
progressively grotesque movement and satirical humour, as Blanc reveals her
anger at “the commodification of women’s bodies” and exposes the absurdity of
the beauty industry.
Blanc, an independent choreographer
and performer from Ireland, creates bold work that straddles the boundaries of
dance, theatre and comedy. She makes not only solo shows but also ensemble work
for adults and children with her all-female inclusive dance company Moxie
“I create work that
challenges preconceptions of what dance and dancers look like, that champions
the representation of diverse bodies on stage,” she says. “My work aims to take
risks without alienating people and is engaging to a wide range of audience.”
Blanc has worked in dance
and inclusive practice for more than ten years and has delivered projects for
Greenwich Dance, GLYPT and East London Dance, along with choreographic
commissions such as A Pacifist’s Guide To The War On Cancer for Complicité/Bryony Kimmings. Her 2016 solo show It Started
With Jason Donovan won a 2016 Brighton Fringe Award.
Tickets for My Feminist Boner’s 7.45pm performance in the McCarthy are on sale on 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com.
THIS week is the last chance to see Scarborough photographer Richard
Beaumont’s exhibition at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
In his debut show, Scarborough And Its Surroundings, he takes a personal
look at his coastal hometown.
“As a schoolboy in the 1960s, I wanted to be a photographer,” says
Beaumont. “I didn’t particularly see it as a way of making money; I just wanted
to create pictures of what interested me at the time.
“My father had other ideas about a possible future career and carefully
steered me towards studying the science subjects, university and a career in
business, saying that there would be time for photography when I retired.”
That time has come. “Following retirement in 2013, the passion was still
there and I gradually began to revive my interest,” says Beaumont. “In 2017, I
successfully completed a postgraduate diploma in photography at the British
Academy of Photography and now accept the occasional assignment and continue to
build my portfolio.”
Summing up his photography, he says. “I like to observe as well as see
and create a bit of language in each shot that I take.”
Scarborough And Its Surroundings – A Personal View runs in the SJT corridor gallery until Saturday, January 12. Gallery opening hours are 10am to 6pm, Mondays to Saturdays, except during show times (mostly evenings, but some afternoons too, so please check the website, sjt.uk.com, before travelling). Entry is free.
CAN you remember your first time? Nathaniel Hall can’t seem to forget his. To be fair, he has had it playing on repeat for the last 15 years, and now he is telling all in his one-man show on tour in North Yorkshire next month.
After playing the VAULT Festival in London, he will embark on his travels, taking in the McCarthy at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre on February 4, Harrogate Theatre’s Studio Theatre on February 5 and York Theatre Royal Studio on February 6, as part of Studio Discoveries, a week of new theatre chosen by Visionari, the Theatre Royal’s community programme group.
The party is over, the balloons have
all burst and Nathaniel is left living his best queer life: brunching on pills
and Googling ancient condoms and human cesspits on a weekday morning…or is he?
After playing the Edinburgh Fringe for four weeks last summer, HIV+ queer artist and theatre-maker Hall brings First Time to Scarborough, Harrogate and York as he strives to stay positive in a negative world. “Join me as I blow the lid on the secret I’ve been keeping all these years,” he says.
Conceived, written and performed by HIV
activist Hall, this humorous but heart-breaking 75-minute autobiographical show
is based on his personal experience of living with HIV after contracting the
virus from his first sexual encounter at 16.
“Narratives of HIV often portray people living with the virus as
the victim. First Time doesn’t accept this stance,” says Hall. “It not only transforms audiences into HIV allies,
but also helps them rid toxic shame from their own lives.”
First Time takes up Hall’s story after an all-night party, when “he
hasn’t been to bed and he hasn’t prepared anything for the show. He’s only had
12 months and a grant from the Arts Council, but he can’t avoid the spotlight
anymore and is forced to revisit his troubled past”.
His path leads from sharing a stolen chicken and stuffing sandwich with a Will Young lookalike aged 16, through receiving the devastating news aged 17 and heart-breaking scenes devouring pills and powder for breakfast, to a candlelit vigil and finally a surprising ending full of reconciliation, hope…and a houseplant from Mum.
Commissioned by Waterside Arts and
Creative industries Trafford and developed with Dibby Theatre, the original
production led the Borough of Trafford’s 30th World AIDS Day
commemorations in 2018.
Directed by Chris Hoyle and designed by Irene Jade, with music and sound design by Hall, First Time will be staged at 7.45pm at each location. Tickets: Scarborough, 01723 370541 or at sjt.uk.com. Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk; York, 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Treasure Island, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until December 29. Box office: 01723 370541 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
TREASURE Island is re-envisaged with sea shanties, baguette swords, talking vegetables, puppets, rap battles and a giant mechanical crab called Susan in the Stephen Joseph Theatre Christmas show.
Stolen and re-told by story pirate Nick Lane, Robert Louis Stevenson’s
nautical adventure is presented by an actor-musician cast of five billed as The
Or not that fearsome at the Relaxed Performance your reviewer attended
where they introduced themselves and explained who each would be playing, while
the stage management outlined how the sword fighting would not be dangerous and
the maximum noise to be expected was the closing of a trapdoor. Likewise, no-one
should be alarmed by the sight of smoke (dry ice) emerging on deck.
It was fascinating to see the care being taken in making everyone at ease,
reaffirming the importance of theatre’s powers of storytelling reaching out to
Lane’s “brilliantly bonkers” shows, whose adventures always begin and
end up back in Scarborough in time for Christmas, have become a staple of the
SJT winter programme, Treasure Island following in the unconventional footsteps
of Pinocchio, A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol and Alice In Wonderland.
Lane’s humour is always wind-assisted, with any excuse for the word “bum”
and prodigious feats of, how to put this, bottom burping. Adults might feel there
is too much wind in this particular sail this time, but try telling that to the
young ones, who revel in the repetition of Marcquelle Ward’s involuntary trumpeting
in the role of apple-loving Jim Hawkins. Nevertheless, maybe a tad less wind
next year would still blow the house down.
Lane’s play feels more episodic than in past years, not merely because
the cast announces each chapter, but because there is so much to cram in after dishing
out the roles for Ward, Alice Blundell, Niall Ransome, Scarlet Winderink and
Ben Tolley, the pick of this winter’s troupe under Erin Carter’s direction.
Tolley arrives in a suit, saying he is attending on behalf of the
Stevenson estate to make sure no disrespectful nonsense is allowed on stage,
whereupon he is commandeered to play assorted parts, such as Long John Silver
(or LJs as he becomes in the climactic rap battle).
This is a typically inventive device by Lane, and Tolley responds to the
max as the ship full of Scarborough scalleys heads to Treasure Island in search
of Captain Flint’s treasure before the pirates find it.
In a second Lane innovation, out goes a talking parrot, in comes a
talking…carrot, perched on Silver’s shoulder in his “disguise” as a pirate cook.
“Five a day, five a day,” says the Carrot, in one of the comic high points.
Look out for the seagulls too, dropping their messages from the sky on
Silver’s head, much to the children’s glee.
Helen Coyston’s stage designs bring out the full potential of the Round
setting, especially when the cast creates the deck of the Hispaniola, and the
giant mechanical crab claws that emerge through one of the exits ticks the “mild
peril” box to amusing effect.
Musical director Simon Slater’s new songs are terrific: shanties and
nautical nuggets as fresh and bracing as the sea air with fun lyrics to boot.
While not matching the heights of Alice In Wonderland, in particular, Lane’s Treasure Island still has a treasure trove of jollification, adventure and daftness to be discovered, hapless Captain Smollett puppet, big fake moustache, baguette sword fights and all.