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THEATRE REVIEW: Mother’s Ruin @ Waterside Art Centre

WORDS BY ELLEN ROGERSON

3.5/5

The reason I love cabarets so much is the variety of acts you get to see squeezed into a couple of hours; singers, writers, actors, poets, stand up, dancers, the whole shebang, and you never know exactly what’s waiting for you until the auditorium lights go down. Being enveloped by the grotesque DIY glamour really satisfies my romanticised longing for Weimar Berlin, the arts, the culture. Life is a cabaret, old chum. So I was not left wanting after seeing ‘Mother’s Ruin’ at Sale’s Waterside Art Centre.

Beneath an aptly tacky disco ball, the stage was graced by many fabulous queer performers. The compere for the evening, Timberlina, lead us through the night with some fantastic eco-themed anthems, strummed enthusiastically on her guitar, such as Milk and Packaging. Her satirical take on middle-class eco-warriors was a delight. My favourite quip of hers being directed at an audience member, who after complaining they couldn’t find a local Greggs that sold vegan sausage rolls, suggested they move to a more upmarket area and start paying more council tax. We then dived head first into act one.

The stand out performances for me were given by Victoria Firth, a performer and theatre-maker, and Jackie Hagan, a comedian and also a theatre maker. Victoria spun us a tender re-imagining of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ which works as an allegory for a young person discovering that they are transgender. It was so refreshing to hear a story about trans identity that balances the portrayal of a supportive parent and a triumphant ending through finding acceptance, with the trials of enduring bullies and the impact of not having any answers on the duckling’s mental health. She illuminated the black, white and grey areas of a transgender persons experiences beautifully.

 

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Despite her work being more serious in nature, Victoria’s performance was the perfect foil to the hilarious tour de force that is Jackie Hagan. A gay, working class, Liverpudlian amputee and self-proclaimed ‘artisan spam fritter’, Jackie is equal parts your typical ‘funny Northern lass’ and a ferocious activist. Having grown up in a poor Northern town and coming from a working-class background, a lot of her work really resonated with me. I was howling at her observations on having to ‘drag up’ to pass as middle class at networking events, but the truth of it really stung. I also relished the squirming of some clearly guilty audience members as she commented on the reluctance of the middle class to acknowledge, let alone discuss, the concept of class. Yet she never dwells too long on her serious material. Before I knew it she was necking lager out of her prosthetic leg like a trooper and that’s what gave her so much hold over the audience. She is so genuine, so full of heart and doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. I will forever keep tabs on her upcoming performances.

In the second act, I fell in love with Afshan De’Souza-Lodhi. Although she occasionally seemed a little nervous at first, once she got started it was clear her gift as a writer is undeniable. When exploring both her Muslim and lesbian identity through her poetry, she reveals her fear of losing touch with her culture as her mother’s native tongue is slowly eradicated through submitting to the colonising English language and that she will eventually discover the lube in Afshan’s bedside draw isn’t actually a moisturising hand lotion. My only critique is that her set was a little bit short, I would have loved to see what she could deliver if she was given some more time to fill.

 

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The other performers on the bill, Patrick Hollis, Aunty Ginger, Donna Matrix and David Mills were all received warmly by the audience, but speaking for myself they just didn’t strike a chord with me in the same way Victoria, Jackie, and Afshan did. This is probably down to a difference of taste since I don’t particularly enjoy spoken word or old-school character based routines, and being a typical Brit I just can’t wrap my head around American humour (sorry David!). Therefore I don’t think I can give a well-rounded critique of their work, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend them as performers, although Donna seemed a little rushed and lacked vocal clarity.

I do want to bring light to the fact that David Mill’s set ended with a joke about a non-binary couple who both used ‘they’ pronouns, which felt completely out of place at an LGBTQ cabaret night. Apart from the joke being fairly tone deaf, it was just plain unfunny and was met with silence by the audience, despite the guffaws of one person in the back row who was clearly plastered. I hope he considers revamping his set before playing another LGBTQ event. Despite the slightly uncomfortable ending, the whole evening was thoroughly enjoyable and would highly recommend seeing future iterations of Mother’s Ruin.

Like this? Read up on all of our film posts HERE 👀

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NEWS: We’re Looking For Editors!

With a growing editorial output at MCR Live – and to keep up with the successes of our audio, visuals & events! – we’re looking to expand our core blog team to reach out to new audiences whilst offering the MCR Live audience more varied content. We have music locked down, but now we’re looking for the best of the best editors across theatre, art, film, culture, fashion, literature, photography and comment sections to lead teams, create ideas and to liaise with creatives in order to put together some boundary-pushing, engaging and wholly unique regular content!

We want to continue in our quest to becoming the cutting edge platform for Manchester and the North of England. With our video & on-air content flourishing more than ever (including the milestone of recently reaching Number 1 on the iTunes podcasting charts!!), we want to give our blog the time to shine & this is where you could come in to play!

Taking on the role of ‘Editor’, you’ll have the swanky title of ‘*INSERT CATEGORY* Editor‘. The amount that your section grows will be all up to you, and you will get full credit – we just want you to have the same vision, and drive we do!

Depending on the section, the role will entail:

  • Coming up with monthly content ideas & pitching to the team,
  • Contacting suitable creatives for interviews & liaising with industry contacts,
  • Arranging preview & review content for events,
  • Recognising trends within your section & delivering content that matches up or pushes these,
  • Fulfilling MCR Live’s ethos of ‘no genres barred’ content – focussing on quality over anything else,
  • Sourcing new contributors and managing contributors writing for your section in our exclusive group,
  • Editing and submitting to publishment within the allocated time-frame,
  • Publishing a minimum of 4 pieces per month (either by a contributor, or yourself),
  • Growing your contributor teams,
  • Attending MCR Live events and industry events on behalf of the platform,
  • Acting as a face of MCR Live & helping to grow the project.

Pieces could fit around a theme, be in line with current affairs trends or news, and should be as unique as possible… but more than this, we’d love you to take creative control and urge editors to have their own spin! For the full brand pack, head here.

All sound a bit much? Apply to be a contributor, here.

To apply, please fill out the short form below. Good luck!

Feel free to give us a message if you have any questions or would be interested in taking on any other categories we haven’t listed.

TAKE NOTE

I’m not based in Manchester – can I apply? Yes, of course! As long as you have shown an understanding of the scene around here and can organise relevant content for contributors, and can network in the venues and scene around you!

Is this a paid role? Unfortunately, not at present, but depending on the growth of the MCR Live project in the coming months this could change. However, it is a fantastic opportunity to build experience with one of the fastest growing media platforms in the UK & having an editorial role makes it easier to network with people in the media industry.

Do I have to work in the MCR headquarters? We do have space both in our studio in Ancoats and our offices in the Northern Quarter, should you need a space (desk, laptop, or computer) to edit on. This can work if you are based in town – or work nearby and are about in the afternoon – and we should be able to accommodate you (with notice)! We can also teach you SEO, and how to run the blog should you need a helping hand. However, feel more than free to work from home… just keep us up to date with what’s going on in your section!

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flushed

Theatre Review: Flushed

Flushed, a brand-new play written and directed by Catherine Cranfield, recently took the stage at Manchester’s 52Two theatre. Although it is still relatively new, 52 has a growing reputation for not shying away from exposing emerging talent and the complexed plots central to Flushed have certainly pulled it out of the bag.

Marnie (Georgia Phillips) and Jen (Harriet Rose Millsopp) are siblings with very different personalities who contrast each other perfectly, representing an authentic depiction of what true sisters are. Jen – the classic unorganised life and soul of the party with little to no responsibility for her actions – and Marnie, a sensible caring character who is a constant source of support for Jen. The play follows the two as Marnie, who’s always wanted to have kids, is diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) meaning she is no longer able to have children and has to deal with the side effects of the menopause – something that in the UK (on average) occurs at 51, not in your 20s. The play deals with the issue in a light-hearted way, yet it still addresses the genuine issues of the condition and its often tragic consequences.

As a play, Flushed does not victimise women; it is one of the most empowering pieces I have seen in a long time. Additionally, a factor that cannot be ignored is the importance of this piece in regards to education – POI is something that I personally, and many people I spoke to after, had no clue existed. Flushed succeeds in raising awareness for the issue and working alongside The Daisy Network, the only UK-based charity for the cause, confronts the unspoken condition tastefully. The playwright manages to do all of this without belittling – or alienating POI – through the concoction of lines with twisting both an excellent mixture of humour and emotion, leaving the audience in hysterics one minute but shedding a tear the next. Another playful element of the production comes down to its set, of which is entirely located in bathrooms – two toilets in the centre of the stage, with a playful touch of toilet paper on each seat. Though a thoroughly minimalistic set, the stripped back nature fits the theme of the piece leaving the focus primarily on both the subject at hand and the characters reactions central.

Flushed 53two

Additionally, the acting is something that cannot be overlooked – a moment of praise should be given to Georgia Phillips flawless depiction of her character Marnie’s heartbreak. From the fun-loving yet caring sister though the mystery symptoms of her POI, to the diagnosis and realisation of the effects this will have on her life. It’s hard to believe someone can capture the range of emotions as well as Phillips manages to.

Hilarious yet heartbreaking, the cast brought a tear to my eye with emotion and laughter and dealt with the issue of premature menopause respectfully and I can’t recommend this play enough! By the end of Flushed you will be left feeling somewhat empowered, or – as a man – find out what girls do in the loo including the very real (though this time substantially amped up) conversations that all of us have (including the classic scrambling for tampons and the ‘can’t you just wrap toilet tissue around it?).’

If you want to catch Flushed, the production will be at Manchester Fringe on the 15 and 16th of July and at the Edinburgh Fringe from the 1 through to the 28th of August.

Read our full interview with Flushed, here.

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square

Spotlight: Square Peg Theatre

We chat with the company’s Co-Artistic Director, Katie Robinson – Eleanor Forrest

Manchester’s ever-growing cultural capitol knows no bounds. This fact is only further cemented in the third and final episode of Spotlight where we meet up with Square Peg theatre’s Co-Artistic Director, Katie Robinson. 

Square Peg are a rare gem; their emphasis on behaviour and bodily movement – in theatre rather than speech & sets – demonstrates the creativity sat within this company, serving to create a unique performance for the audience. By focusing on a strong physical style, the company aims to create new work devised by themselves whilst also reimagining 21st-century classics. When we met, Katie discussed how she felt there needed to be more variety and challenge in drama and it was clear how much she loved what she was doing. 

Meeting Katie was a treat – her warm demeanour and excitement to discuss Square Peg was clear, and the conversation was really interesting. In revealing how the company came to exist, through a bit of serendipity (mixed with a passion and determination for physical theatre), Katie answered a casting call from Michael White, the future Co-Artistic Director and the second half of Square Peg.

There is definitely an appetite for Square Peg’s specific type of performance. Their most recent piece, The Return, was credited for its boundary-pushing style and high creativity by North West End which described it as a privilege to be in the audience, alongside a 5* review.

Though they are taking a break at the minute, Square Peg will be back next year with a revitalised performance of The Return and a brand new project in Spring 2019, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled! 

But these were just the highlights – listen through to our full conversation, below!

Check out our most recent Spotlight features, here.

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mad theatre company

Spotlight: MaD Theatre Company

Entering into the performing arts scene is difficult and, like many things, life has a tendency to get in the way somehow. However, that doesn’t take away from the achievements of a person in pursuit of their dream career – a factor that Rob Lees, MaD Theatre’s writer and director, wants people within the industry to acknowledge.

In this episode of Spotlight, we chatted with MaD Theatre’s writer and director Rob Lees. An Oldham native, Lees has a background in drama but from early on in his career noticed the need to provide a space for disadvantaged people to express themselves in drama and performance art. 

Lees discussed with us the changing landscape of Manchester (specifically the north-south divide throughout the city), and the effect of class in the drama world. Our discussion eventually led to highlight the benefits of drama, and the skills it teaches which people take with them & use throughout their lives, whether they become an actor or not. 

But what is MaD Theatre? Since 1996, MaD have produced over 40 original plays that grapple with real and emotive issues & as a charity, provide quality and affordable drama workshops for disadvantaged young people and adults. Most interesting is MaD’s ability to turn the space around them into a stage, performing at standard spaces like The Lowry alongside regular performances in Care homes, giving the residents some well-deserved entertainment. 

Furthermore, MaD’s workshops in hospitals and their collaboration with the Home Office to create ‘County Lines’ demonstrates the educational nature of their work – their ethos is to help not just those in the company, but for the wider community. 

At the centre of MaD is the need to create content for and about Manchester’s residents and with performances such as Shelagh Delaney’s ‘Sweetly Sings the Donkey’ and their upcoming ‘Me, You and George Clooney’ under their belt they have certainly achieved this.

Listen to the full conversation below.

‘Me, You and George Clooney’ will be arriving at The Lowry on September 13th, and you can buy tickets here.

Listen back to our previous episode, with Hope Theatre Company here.

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hope theatre co

Spotlight: Hope Theatre Company

In the first episode, we meet Artistic Director of Hope Theatre Company, Adam Zane.

The North of England is home to an array of unique, and oftentimes boundary-pushing arts projects and Manchester is largely the hub hosting the best of the best within the scene. In this series, we will be talking to a number of theatre companies that contribute to the Northern Powerhouse’s ever-growing cultural capital and gaining a deeper understanding as to what each brings to the diverse and unique city of Manchester.

In our first in-depth, we met the Artistic Director of the Hope Theatre Company, Adam Zane. Established in 2004, the Hope Theatre focusses on verbatim theatre to present challenging content for, and about, the LGBT+ Community. We met Adam in the Lowry Theatre, Salford, to chat through the reasons why he wanted to create Hope, the position of the LGBT+ community, the power of education and to divulge into everything that Hope Theatre contributes to within Manchester’s Arts and Cultural scene.

Adam, best known for playing accident-prone Dane in Channel 4’s Queer as Folk, gave an honest re-telling of his own experiences involving his friends’ and other members of the LGBT+ community – notably, discussing the effect of Government legislation regarding Gay rights led to a really insightful conversation into the scene, and the backstory for the company.

With patrons including Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street) and Warren Brown (Luther), the company has gone from strength to strength – a feat demonstrated through their recent applauded productions Gypsy Queen and Jock Night. Hope Theatre’s current production #BeMoreMartyn, saw a sell-out performance in 2017 and is back to tell the story of Martyn Hett, one of the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing.

#BeMoreMartyn is at Hope Mill Theatre from Monday 21st May through ’til Saturday 26th May with stage times at 7:30pm, an extra performance at 2:00pm on Wednesday 23rd and Saturday 26th.

Limited tickets available – but you can purchase through this link!

Listen to our interview with Adam below.

Like this? Check out our full listing of Podcasts.

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Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist by Lorna Tucker @ HomeMCR

Thematically confused and somewhat overpacked, the eccentric genius of Ms Vivienne Westwood herself and some access all areas content saved Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist from going off the rails.

When one hears the word ‘Punk’, your mind may immediately go to images of angry, tattooed men in leather jackets with spiky-haired Mohawks, Doc Martens, and Johnny Rotten. However, as what happens far to often in alternative culture, the true ‘Creator’ of punk, a woman, is often overlooked. In the history of punk Sex Pistols are often praised for being the godfathers of the genre. Despite this, their sound, aesthetic and political ideas being a more radical version of a template already set out by Poly styrene of X-Ray Spex. Punk was also deeply influenced of course by fashion legend, Vivienne Westwood, who created the Sex Pistols aesthetic. Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, is a film that documents the life of the said icon, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood DBR RDI as she is officially titled. Interestingly enough it only glosses over this period of history, going deeper into less explored areas of her life.

As a subject, Ms. Westwood by no means falls short. In the opening scene, a sheepish but rowdy Westwood sits huddled in her chair. Moaning and groaning to the person behind the camera, claiming she is sick of telling her life story in a continuum. ‘It’s so boring to say all this.’ She whines in tedium. It must be monotonous being so interesting. However, this friction sets up up an interesting premise for the film and the content held within. All information being told is on Westwood’s terms, and don’t you forget it. Westwood presents herself somewhere between your sassy grandmother who’s too old to give a shit, An icon, truly aware of her status and prestige, and a crazy vegan lady who tries to get you to try almond cheese on market street. Frankly, it’s enamoring.

The Director, Lorna Tucker, tackles her fascinating subject through a combination of archive footage and talking heads. Later on, she also employs some new documentary content. Displaying some intimate time with Westwood in her studio and managing the colossal brand her clothes have become. This multimedia strategy is effective in tackling Westwood’s complex character and history, whilst also maintaining that this film is by no means a retrospective.  The talking heads, archive footage and modern-day doc footage all feel incredibly separate from each other. Sometimes bouncing from one to the other too sporadically. One moment we will have a member of Westwood’s inner sanctum discussing the problems facing the house in the modern day, and the next we will be transported back to the 60’s or 70’s with Westwood discussing her love interests. This sometimes makes for somewhat disjointed viewing. All three methods are effective, but the way they have showcased together with the constant thematic and stylistic change serves to detract from the overall quality of the experience.

One of the most engaging parts of the whole documentary comes towards the end. The focus is shifted to Vivian’s attempts to regain creative control of the brand after she deems several designs on sale in her shops as subpar, some being inconsistent or incorrectly crafted in relation to her designs. This is where we truly see Miss Westwood both as an artist and a businesswoman. With her sharp tongue and whit, she slashes her way through the upper echelons of her own company, questioning why things were allowed to be changed without her consent. In one particularly rousing scene, when presenting her new collection to several incredibly important buyers and managers in her company from all around the world. After announcing she didn’t even know she was supposed to be speaking, she declares that she pulled several items from the line because of their quality. Stating “Quality over Quantity, the money doesn’t matter to me, I know it may matter to you, but not to me”. The content contained in this chapter could have made a perfectly satisfying documentary series or stand-alone feature in itself. The Voyeuristic thrill of feeling like a fly on the wall during a major creative reshuffle at the company makes for outstanding viewing. It’s a great shame that more focus could not be put into it.

 

 

Lorna’s work is stunningly complementary of Ms. Westwood. Not tackling the challenges of her traversing from a counterculture figure to an established artist recognized by the royal family. And praising her political work in later life, which although important and incredibly effective in some senses. Has often been clumsy, backed with half-baked ideas and soaked in ‘white activism’. A day prior to the Picture’s release at Sundance festival, a statement was delivered by the fashion house accusing Tucker of having asked to ‘create a film about Westwood’s activism’. This could potentially be the explanation for Westwood’s Icy demeanor in the opening interviews when asked to discuss her life. Still, something seems amiss with this statement. If Westwood thought a film was being made about her activism, why was Tucker given so much access to her and Andreas’ legendary Creative process? And given such complex insight into the inner workings of the company in its directors clamber for creative control?

One of the films strong points is it’s cast. As well as the highly entertaining and acidic Ms Westwood, the film also features her two semi-famous sons. Her Husband and artistic partner and her assistant are also entertaining and engaging figures. Although at one point, the film seems to veer off randomly in the direction of being about Andreas himself. A documentary profiling the couple as a creative duo, or the house of Westwood would be fascinating, but this tangent just contributes to the fragmented aspect of the project. It also has a strange tendency to hyper-focus on the men in her life, their skills, and contribution to her art. This contributes to the unhelpful ways we look at female artists and icons as a society with suggestions that the contributions of a man are what makes the females art.  Women often shafted in this way include artists like Courtney Love, Yoko Ono and Lil Kim, all the way too unrelated figures such as Marie Curie and Sylvia Plath.

Lorna Tucker took some risks in the creation of this picture, some that paid off, some that didn’t. A Multimedia Presentation style? Meh. Trying to fit numerous narratives into one documentary? Meh. Pissing off the queen of punk? Apparently gold. Despite its many faults, most of them are insignificant due to the sheer spellbinding prominence of the subject. With an 80 minute run time and so much information the film can feel disjointed and rushed, but there’s so much interesting content packed in there, it’s surely worth a watch. The final product is certainly an entertaining and informative watch and a multifaceted look inside the life of an icon.

 

If you want to catch the film It’s currently showing at the following cinemas:

HOME MCR.

The Barbarican London.

Picture House Liverpool.

 

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INTERVIEW: FLUSHED

Manchester’s 53two theatre held The Foundation winning play, Flushed, from 27th-31st March. We caught up with Catherine Cranfield (director), Harriet Rose Millsopp (Jen) and Toni Ward (Assistant Director) to find out a little more about what Flushed is all about!

Don’t give any spoilers but give us a quick synopsis of what it’s about, what are we going to see?

Harriet: Two girls, two toilets & probably around eight different bathrooms with conversations about pooing, sex and Gareth Gates.

Toni: Flushed addresses what girls do in club loos when we go off!

Kate: Yeah I think any girl who sees this will see at least one scene and recognise & relate to it. Also, men will realise what goes on between girls in loos!

Early menopause isn’t something talked about a lot – is that why you decided to incorporate the topic into the play?

Kate: Yeah – exactly! I knew a little bit about general fertility as it’s often talked about in the media (and other productions) but this specific diagnosis was again something I had never heard about, then I came across it one day. I had already started writing the Flushed , with dialogue, but wasn’t sure where it was going and then came across Premature Menopause, looked into it and asked people if they’d heard of it – like you – and the answer was very much a no. The more I delved into it, I realised how heartbreaking and isolating the issue is and wanted to cover it to bring more attention to the disability. I think theatre is a really great way to do that.

Has it been a hard script to get your head around if – as mentioned – not many people have heard of Premature Menopause, thus making it difficult to relate to?

Harriet: Well I have tried not to research into it because it isn’t something that my character (Jen) has, but Marnie does. So – every night when I hear about the disability, I need to listen to it for the first time so Jen is going through the discovery at the same rate as the audience, so it’s been hard to keep up the realisation as if I’m hearing about it for the first time.

 

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I hear you met people who suffer from the condition, how was that and how did you go about it?

Kate: When I first started developing Flushed , I got in touch with The Daisy Network who are the only UK network dealing specifically with this issue. They’ve been absolutely incredible with the amount of help and support they’ve given us in order to understand the issue, alongside raising awareness for it and introducing us to women who are part of their group and network and willing to share their stories. We contacted The Daisy Network and a few members happened to live in Manchester, so we met up with them and it really made the issue more relatable for us in bringing it down to earth. We were thankful to be able to hear those stories from such incredibly strong wonderful women.

Another interesting part of the play is the fact that your cast is mainly female, was that something you did intentionally or was it a case of these actors being the best fit for the job?

Kate: Haha – a bit of both! But no, I think as I was writing it I wanted to write two strong parts for women because there aren’t many for females to get their teeth into, but luckily each day that’s changing which is fab! I wanted to make sure that was the case, and I think Jen and Marnie are 3D – you know they’re real, they’re real women who have complex stories and that means casting two strong female leads. Toni (exec producer) is female and has been around since day one and with me sending her early drafts of the script – she’s incredible, so yeah we were all the best people for the job. Saying that we do want it to be something that men are invited into as well because there’s a lot to be learnt about how women think and why, for example, we go to the toilet in pairs! We do have a male in the team – Ellis Shotton (direct) – who is absolute dynamite; he’s fantastic.

How has it been working with the group – some of you have been friends for a long time, so how has the dynamic between you been?

Toni: Working with Kate has always been a dream – she says what she thinks and working with friends can either go one of two ways, but I think we’ve been so lucky with this process that it’s been the most natural process. Definitely, the easiest process that I’ve worked on – it’s been so smooth and such a great platform to say what you think.

Kate: Yeah – we’re very honest people, and that’s the way I feel best!

What are your plans for the future, drag this out this run a little bit or explore something new?

Kate: We’re very much open to seeing where Flushed goes. We came into it knowing we didn’t want it to be a short run and we wanted to see how far we can take it as a production In terms of things we have coming up – obviously this run, then we’re very humbled and honoured to be asked to perform at ‘Daisy Day’ which is the annual conference that The Daisy Network (12 May), an event run with lectures and talks from medical professionals. This is the first time they’ve incorporated any arts into the event which is important because there’s room out there for arts and sciences to work together to create awareness for things like this.

Toni: Definitely we’re very excited about that – and then we’re looking at Edinburgh Fringe!

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You've Changed - Kate O'Donnell - Theatre Production The Lowry - Manchester - MCR Live Blog

Theatre Preview: “You’ve Changed” – Interview with Kate O’Donnell

“Why pass when you can excel?!”

On the 10th-11th of this month, You’ve Changed is coming to The Lowry. You’ve Changed is an autobiographical piece by the actress and playwright Kate O’Donnell showing her transition from male to female over the past 14 years. We got the chance to catch up with her.

Through song, dance and a whole load of audience interaction, Kate shows that it’s pretty clear that she’s changed… But have you? “In a world where genitals equals gender, Kate has decided it’s time to get hers out on the proverbial table and explore what’s down there and what’s up here.” As a follow on from her first play “Big Girls Blouse” which covers how she felt growing up knowing she was different, ‘You’ve Changed’ challenges the public perception of transgender and explains how things have changed not only for her, but for everyone else over the past 14 years.

You've Changed - Kate O'Donnell - Theatre Production The Lowry - Manchester - MCR Live Blog

Although Kate transitioned in 2003, the play is set in 1930 as she explains there was just as much awareness on the topic then as their was in 2003. Kate began to transition in a time where people, especially those of the LGBT community  tried their best to hide their true self and just pass in society, but in the words of Kate, why pass when you can excel?! Showing something set in the past can help people reflect on how their views and society as a whole has developed, and makes for a whole load of cool aesthetics too.

For some, this could be the first time meeting a transgender person. Some age or social groups have less experience with transgender people, it can be a generational thing and Kate looks forward not only for them to meet her, but for her to meet them. Having been cast as Feste in Twefth Night which recently showed at The Royal Exchange Theatre, this was the first time they’ve cast a transgender character in that play.

Before transititoning, Kate got given a list by her friend on how to transition and explains this during You’ve Changed. She gives people a copy of the list to audience members and people have even transitioned after watching her play or came out to their family. The play is incredibly inspiring and really urges people to be honest with themselves and with the people who love them, “read a book, look it up, get on the net. Open up your mind and see what you find” shows how this play is a real call to action on how transgender is perceived.

The NHS and mental health services play a big part in Kate’s life. She shares her experience with these departments and it shows that although there are holes, the world is slowly catching up. She tells the audience to imagine calling up your GP and booking an appointment, to go and tell them that you’re transgender, or having to go through the whole administration process and suddenly changing it in a day. She says people start laughing… then stop when the reality of it sinks in. During the play Kate ridiculed an NHS Leaflet on transgender, illustrating how ridiculous and under developed some of the help is. However the amazing thing was that after the play, she got asked to rewrite it. Kate explains that some NHS workers bring a new wave of energy to research and genuinely have a passion to help and make progress, but it’s still a real lottery.

There is lots of feminism throughout and sexism is conveyed very strongly. From being told to go to voice therapy, Kate said she’d go to voice therapy when all woman go to voice therapy to ‘sound like a woman’ and how when she started her job as a woman, doing the same practice and training in the same routine, she got called bossy. Bossy because she was a woman, to which she simply replies “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” Kate’s boyfriend is also transgender, having transition from female to male. What was shocking is that when he’s asked what he finds noticeably different now, it’s that he is actually listened to. As he is gaining his male privilege, Kate is losing hers and she produced a Guilty Feminist podcast on male privilege which proved extremely popular.

Although You’ve Changed does target serious issues and challenges controversial views, it does contain a huge amount of comedy. Kate was extremely interesting and comic to speak to and some rather entertaining audience interaction is reviewed as the best part of the show… but no spoilers.

You’ve Changed has been incredibly influential and proved to help move the process along and bring more awareness to the LGBT Community. Kings College London is currently setting up a whole gender department and Kate is working with WOW (Women of the World) Festival which will hopefully be featuring the show in the festival.

Kate has started a “Transing up Manchester” project and is excited to bring it to The Lowry as they’re so keen to get involved. The play is produced by Trans Creative and co-produced by Contact Theatre. The Friday performance of “You’ve Changed” features a Q&A after the show and Saturday’s performance is also conducted in sign language. Tickets are available here but are selling out fast for the Friday production so make sure you get your hands on them asap. For the full interview, listen below.

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The Addams Family - The Lowry Theatre Manchester - Preview - MCR Live Blog

Preview: The Addams Family @ The Lowry

If Morticia Addams isn’t enough to send shivers down your spine, Wednesday Addams certainly is. The Addams family makes their return and is shortly to be landing at The Lowry, Manchester but with a twist. We all know Morticia isn’t a huge fan of keeping secrets, and by that I mean despises them enough to sing a whole song about the matter, but with Wednesday approaching 18, she seeks the nerve of hiding one simple thing from her mother.. she’s fallen in love. Now this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the problem lies in one small matter. Her heart throb has unfortunately grown up as a normal boy from a normal family – shocking.  

From the writers of award-winning hit musical Jersey Boys, this absolutely stunning comedy musical is here to let us know if the Addams are actually capable of having just one civilised, behaved dinner with an ordinary family, or if secrets will destroy all.

With music and lyrics from Tony Award-nominated Andrew Lippa, the songs are bound to be sensational as ever and these performances will even feature a live orchestra to make it that extra bit special. But be warned that the play does run for a long time. With the first act lasting 70 minutes and the second 60 minutes, you do get a 20 minute interval to refuel, refresh and a little gossip about what you’ve seen so far.

The Addams Family will be running from the 29th August all the way through till 9th of September. Les Dennis will unfortunately be unavailable to play the role of Uncle Fester for either performance on 9th September but the performances are still bound to be absolutely outstanding throughout with an understudy to step in. Age guidance for the performance is 7+. (Although the show doesn’t contain strong language, innuendos run throughout)

Tickets are available from just £20.50 (group discounts apply by calling 0843 208 6003) and with some big names in the performance such as Samantha Womack, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Les Dennis, it is certainly worth every penny.

For more on the latest gigs, events, club nights, interviews and more, check out The Rundown with Skiddle every week.

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