Blanc ‘challenges preconceptions of what dance and dancers look like’ in SJT show

Sarah Blanc in My Feminist Boner at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Pictures: Roswitha Cheshire

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”.

Sarah Blanc “grapples with 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.

Sarah Blanc: angry at “the commodification of women’s bodies”

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 Brawl.

“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.”

” I create work that challenges preconceptions of what dance and dancers look like,” says Sarah Blanc

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

Snap decision as Richard Beaumont takes father’s advice: business career first, then focus on photography

Dawn In The South Bay, Scarborough, by Richard Beaumont

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.

The Harbour Entrance At Whitby, by Richard Beaumont

“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.”

Scarborough photographer Richard Beaumont: debut exhibition

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.”

The Lighthouse And South Cliff, Scarborough, From The Outer Harbour, by Richard Beaumont

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,, before travelling). Entry is free.

HIV+ queer artist Nathaniel Hall tells all as he recalls the first time on Yorkshire tour. UPDATED

Heart-breaking: Nathaniel Hall in his one-man show First Time at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Pictures: Andrew Perry

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.

 “Join me as I blow the lid on the secret I’ve been keeping all these years,” says Nathaniel Hall

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”.

“First Time not only transforms audiences into HIV allies, but also helps them rid toxic shame from their own lives ,” says Nathaniel Hall

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 Harrogate, 01423 502116 or; York, 01904 623568 or

REVIEW: Treasure Island, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Scarlet Wilderink, Ben Tolley, Niall Ransome and Marcquelle Ward (front) in Treasure Island. Pictures: Sam Taylor

Treasure Island, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until December 29. Box office: 01723 370541 or at

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 Fearsome Pirates.

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.

Scarlet Wilderink: Revelling in her big fake moustache character switch in Treasure Island

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 everyone.

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.

Marcquelle Ward, left, Scarlet Wilderink, Alice Blundell and Niall Ransome as the Fearsome Pirate storytellers in Treasure Island

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.

Alice Blundell with the accident-prone puppet of Captain Smollett in Treasure Island at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

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.

Ben Tolley’s Long John Silver in Treasure Island

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.

Charles Hutchinson

Treasure Island’s remaining performances:

Tuesday December 24; 1pm

Thursday, December 26, 7pm

Friday, December 27, 1pm and 7pm

Saturday, December 28, 1pm and 6pm

Sunday, December 29, 1pm.