Travesti is a verbatim play which incorporates music and dance, written and directed by Rebecca Hill, produced by Unbound Productions. It takes women’s real stories about unruly body hair, being groped on public transport, and experiences of sexual violence, and puts them in the mouths of an ensemble cast of six male actors. It is a warm and witty play which explores whether our reactions to these stories change based on the gender of who tells them, and whether we might allow certain behaviours due to longstanding social roles. By putting these stories in men’s mouths, we wanted to highlight the absurdities of typically ‘female’ behaviours - why are women expected to wear make up and men aren't? Why are we expected to shave our body hair and men aren't? Why are we expected to consider our safety at night in ways that men don’t have to? Happily, as a result, it also opens up interesting discussion about the social roles enforced on men, for example how male rape is something that is not discussed in the same way as female rape. Our intention was to make a feminist theatre piece that looks like the women we know: intelligent, playful, funny and sexy.
A developing, 35-minute, version of the production was performed at the Etcetera Theatre in January, turning audience away on the final night. We are currently developing it into an hour-long piece. The buzz it caused certainly suggests that we are on to something! It received 4 star reviews from FemaleArts and Remotegoat, in which it was described as a potential “run-away hit”. Ian Rickson (Director, Mojo, Harold Pinter Theatre)described the show as “terrific. A fresh, seductive and unsettling evening” and Christopher Haydon (Artistic Director, Gate Theatre) called it “sharp, witty, genuinely shocking at times”.
I suppose it is, I suppose it was like rape actually, because I was saying “no” and it was still going on, and actually, at times, I thought, I’m in a position where I can bite off your f***ing penis right now, and that’s all I wanna do, because you’re making me so unhappy but you don’t, and I don’t know why you don’t do that. I think that’s really sad that girls, don’t know that that’s ok, to say- like “no. I don’t want this. An-and, stop.” Er, there’s like some unwritten, code I guess. - Voice of the character Saraph.
The Pleasance Theatre has offered us a prime slot (14:50 in the Jack Dome) in their 30th Anniversary Edinburgh Festival programme, which is exactly the opportunity we wanted for it - not only to be programmed by the leading festival venue with interest for a London transfer and tour, but also to reach a potential audience of over 2,000 people with a theatrical discussion we are passionate about. Which is why we are turning to you.
Travesti is an incredibly zeitgeist piece, whilst also unique in its strong concept. We are not taking this play to Edinburgh for a laugh, we know Travesti is an excellent fit for the festival. We are an ambitious company, dedicated to creating brave new work which inspires and provokes. We are passionate about the work, committed to making it the best it can be and doing the best by our talented team, and have the ability and imagination to succeed in this industry. Financial support is crucial to this, however, and your support is vital to help us get this important and entertaining project off the ground.
And I, actually really like, all my different. Quirks and flaws. And I think growing up. I, wanted to iron everything out, I always say. “I hate my nose more than war”, and things like this and um actually, as I’ve grown up, um. I’ve started to think that the things that are slightly odd. Um, are the things that I like best actually. - Voice of character Raziel
The Creative Team:
Rebecca Hill - Writer/Director. Rebecca is Co-Artistic Director of Unbound Productions, an Associate Director of new writing company Little Pieces of Gold and an Ovalhouse Artist for 2014 as recipient of the Arts Manifesto: A Future for the Arts award. She has directed in venues including Southwark Playhouse, Park Theatre and Ovalhouse Theatre, and her work as a writer has been seen in venues including Swansea Grand Theatre, Ovalhouse Theatre and the Bush Theatre. Rebecca’s play Torque, a two-hander partly in BSL (and her application to OVNV LAB) was shortlisted by Masterclass: Pitch Your Play at Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Bradley Leech - Producer. Bradley is Co-Artistic Director of Unbound Productions, Associate Director of Such Stuff Productions, and was recipient of the Lillian Baylis Award in 2010. He is a director, producer and actor, with experience working across theatre, television and film. He has produced a number of Edinburgh festival shows and his work has been seen at the Bush Theatre, Ovalhouse Theatre, Riverside Studios, theSpace Theatre and the Attic Theatre (Stratford upon Avon).
Jack Parry-Jones - Movement Director. Jack graduated from RADA in 2012, following many years spent performing physical theatre in Swansea under Nigel Charnock. Jack is Co-Artistic Director of Bogus Productions, a physical theatre and dance company he runs with contemporary dancer Emily Crouch.
Francesca Fenech - Musical Director. Francesca is Musical Director with Theatre Royal and Derngate’s youth theatre, and has collaborated with Goldsmith’s University to musically direct A New Day by Tom Lees. She has musically directed and co-composed for a number of pantomimes with Such Stuff Productions.
Jessica Wretlind - Stage Manager/Company Manager. Jessica has recently moved to London from San Francisco (via Sweden) where she worked extensively as Stage Manager, Head of Crew and Light &Sound Operative with Brown Bag Theatre Company and Off Broadway West Theatre Company on productions including Avenue Q and The Weir.
Chris Snow - Associate Producer. Chris runs FreeRange Productions, and works as a freelance Producer with companies including Poleroid Theatre and Snapdragon Productions. Recent projects include Thark at Park Theatre, Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at Edinburgh Fringe, and the UK Fringe tour of the award-winning musical This Was Your Life.
Cast of January Production:
Dominic Attenborough - Jophiel
Joe Attewell - Raziel
Iain Batchelor - Haniel
Mathew Foster - Zadkiel
Alex Middleton- Samael
Bryan Parry - Saraph
"Working on Travesti was extremely interesting. I think a lot of actors would accept a role that they wouldn't usually get to play, and this was the perfect example of that and I'd have been silly to turn it down. The rehearsal process gave a lot of time to think about exactly how women exist in today's society and how things haven't necessarily progressed as much as we'd like to think.It was rewarding as an actor, because it forced me to consider every single detail, and quite unlike any other process. Was I accurately delivering what the women in the recordings had said? Was I doing justice to the, at times, very sensitive issues being talked about? These were real women in the original recordings after all. It made me consider exactly how I've been treated throughout my life as a male, and ask how different it may have been if I'd been a woman. I don't mean that it would have been a more difficult journey, because as the piece shows, there are many advantages to being female, but I wonder exactly how many times I would have been treated differently based solely on my sex." - Joe Attewell (Raziel)
Risks and challenges
Once we have raised the total money needed, our next big step is getting bums on seats. We will work tirelessly to create a marketing campaign strong enough to overcome this hurdle whilst at the same time continuing to raise awareness about sexism in everyday life.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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