One cold, blustery evening in the lead up to Christmas, in the beautiful Georgian city of Bath, a number of women, including myself, gathered in an underground bar, surrounded by glitter, tea lights and provocative underwear. Amongst many topics we discussed female empowerment, body image, artistic expression and why women take their clothes off for a living. Over cocktails we talked of plans to bring our conversation to the wider world and began to bond as we understood a bit more about ourselves, about each other and about the world we live in. However, men of the world need not worry we aren’t some strange man hating clan, making plans to take over the world, we are just a small all female theatre company developing a show called STRIP, which shines a spotlight on the TRUE stories of women working in the sex industry.
I am performing in STRIP, playing the role of a documentary film maker who meets with each of the women and interviews their very different stories, capturing their very different personalities. This is a verbatim piece of theatre, which means that the words spoken in the show come from the words that were spoken by the real people who have lived through the experiences described. Verbatim theatre can be difficult to perform as it is initially a little dry, people just telling their stories, not acting it out, which can take some getting used to, and it involves strong character driven work.
However, I was not daunted by this, it just made the initial discoveries more interesting, earlier in the year I played Anita, which involved a ten minute monologue describing her story, and it certainly wasn’t boring or dry. As the documentary maker (presenter) in STRIP, I have to be somewhat objective, particularly in the words I say. Which means anything that my character is thinking and feeling has to be shown in the subtext through subtle thoughts and mannerisms. As an actor this is a dream because I get to completely create this character, but it is tricky and it is taking a while to really understand who this character is. I interview four strippers and burlesque performers in the show and it hasn’t been until I have rehearsed with each one that I have begun to work out what my character feels about each of the women and why. Meeting each of them takes the journey out of her hands and by making the documentary her views are changed.
The other thing that I have discovered and that I have to to be aware of is the power of the presenter to be a mouthpiece for the whole show. Whilst the documentary and the play are focused on the strippers and burlesque performers it is her reaction that represents what we as theatre makers are communicating to you, the audience. For example, if she patronises a character then it is easy to see that character as weak, if she idolises one then they become a star in the eyes of the show. It is actually a fascinating look at how the media can creatively manipulate the way we as an audience perceive something.
Anyway, it is Christmas Eve and I still have presents to wrap, work to finish and family to see so I will wrap it up there (accidental bad pun, which I will leave in :)). If you want to know more about the show, when we are performing and who else is involved please see the Dollypop Theatre Facebook page
If you have any comments or views about the sex industry please leave them in the comments box – nothing too rude please.
You may have also noticed that I have a new layout to my website, I have updated it with a new theme, there is still a bit of work to do, but I love how well this theme shows all the great photographs that various people have provided for this site. I hope you like it.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays or pick the most appropriate festive greeting for you. I will be back soon with a lot more exciting news for the start of 2015 – it is going to be a hectic one.