Women-led festival is coming to Nottingham Playhouse

Nottingham Playhouse''Photo by Robert Day
Nottingham Playhouse''Photo by Robert Day

The Party Somewhere Else, a Nottingham-based collective of maverick creatives who happen to be women, has an exciting programme for the first ever The Party Somewhere Else Festival.

This is a week-long programme of performances and workshops led by women, to be showcased at Nottingham Playhouse from March 20-24.

Highlights of the programme include: Katie Arnstein’s Bicycles and Fish, which she brings to Nottingham fresh off the back of five star reviews at London’s VAULT Festival; shows from Dance 4-supported artists Nicola Carter and Kimberley Harvey; and immersive literary cabaret The Full Bronte, in which critically acclaimed company Scary Little Girls take a raucous look at the work of the Bronte sisters.

One evening has been supported and curated by Camden People’s Theatre, who have programmed two shows which will have their East Midlands premieres as part of the festival: SEXY by Vanessa Kisuule and Temporary by Libby Liburd, both highlights of the renowned Calm Down, Dear festival.

Camden People’s Theatre artistic director Brian Logan said: “We at Camden People’s Theatre are thrilled to be supporting The Party Somewhere Else on their new festival of female-led theatre.

“With our own annual festival Calm Down, Dear, we’ve done our best to support and champion the most exciting feminist theatre in the UK and beyond. When the opportunity arose to help these terrific theatre-makers in the East Midlands do something similar, we jumped at it. We’re proud to be involved, and can’t wait to see the work that this exciting new event will bring to the stage.”

Other events taking place during the week include performances from BAFTA-nominated actor and writer Leanne Davis, Notnow Collective, Mellow Baku, Tessa Parr and Vertebra Theatre.

There will also be a workshop about the legacy of Suffragettes and women’s voting rights run by Kate Willoughby in conjunction with Centenary Cities Nottingham.

The Party Somewhere Else are a collective of women working in theatre in Nottinghamshire, and include among their number actors, writers, directors, producers, designers, workshop leaders and dramatherapists.

They were brought together by a shared frustration at the lack of women-led theatre locally and nationally, as well as the different barriers faced by women of colour, working class women, older women, disabled women and mothers working in the arts.

Women continue to be underrepresented in theatre. Even though women buy (approximately) 65 per cent of theatre tickets, they still only account for 36 per cent of professional directors, 28 per cent of professional playwrights and 39 per cent of professional actors.

The goal of The Party Somewhere Else is to create events that showcase and celebrate work made by women and to champion female-led projects, all while giving everyone a great night out.

Since launching in July, the collective have hosted a sold out event featuring work in progress by five female-led companies and artists, and a recent open house and open mic event to provide a space to talk about diversity in the arts and highlight music, performance and poetry made by women.

Director Siobhán Cannon-Brownlie said: “Women don’t always get invited to take a seat at the party table, so we’ve ditched the table and invited everyone. The Party Somewhere Else is chance for women to lead, and to ensure everyone is truly welcomed. If cultural institutions won’t lead the way, then sisters’ll do it for themselves!”

The name The Party Somewhere Else was inspired by a speaker at a conference organised by Sphinx Theatre Company attended by Hannah Stone and Tilly Branson five years ago.

When asked how women should deal with the frustration of not being included in their own industry, she said “if you’re not being invited to the party, go and have the party somewhere else”.

Acts for the festival were selected after a national callout for performances in which women had at least 50 per cent of the creative agency. Director Tilly Branson explains: “by ‘creative agency’, we mean who is getting to make decisions about what the story being told is, who gets a say in how it’s told, who has a voice in the creative process and/or in the performance itself. We’re certainly not excluding men and have had lots of men attend our events to date”.

The full festival line-up and links to book tickets are all online at www.thepartysomewhereelse.co.uk

Photo by Robert Day