Breaking through stigma and stereotypes, Sex Workers’ Opera is a unique multimedia theatre production written and performed by sex workers and their friends.
With music spanning opera to ‘hip-hopera’, incorporating sound art, projections and poetry, it offers an unflinchingly honest, upliftingly human insight into the lives of sex workers around the world.
We’re asking you to support a bigger, braver, badder run of our show at The Pleasance theatre, London in May 2016 (click here to see) putting on a production that is inclusive, grassroots and paying our performers fairly.
Two years ago a group of sex workers and friends gathered in East London. Most of us had never met each other before, and some of us had never sung on stage before, performed to an audience or made music. All we knew was:
1. We were at least 50% sex workers with all allies vouched for by a sex worker
2. We were working with our own stories and the many anonymous sex work stories sent to us from all over the world.
Just two (fairly sleepless) nights later we were all on stage, performing, singing and dancing in an Opera that we had all co-written and created in those 48 hours - to a packed audience with queues for returns at the door.
Watch the 20 minute documentary about the show by Manu Valcarce
Now after lots of development, international press coverage, a sold out run at Arcola in January 2015, and exactly two years since our first ever show, Sex Workers’ Opera is BACK!
“You say that sex is all you see, well I think you see me in 2D because the actual reality is a mosaic blur – a tapestry.”
To make this opera Bigger, Bolder & Badder than ever we are rehearsing with the cast and mini-orchestra for two whole weeks, developing the show artistically and politically and putting out a fresh call out for anonymous stories from around the world.
Sex Workers' Opera is on for 2 weeks at The Pleasance theatre, Islington from 17th of May - 29th May at 7.30pm (Sundays at 5pm, no show Monday 23rd, 2pm Gala Matinée + Q&A Saturday 28th) Tickets on sale now!
A preview of 'The Domme Song' studio recording of the Jazz Anthem from the show - available as a reward for all backers £3 and up!
We are committed to taking this show as far as possible, to keep amplifying Sex Workers' voices in the public narrative on our own terms and in our own words. To challenge the damaging, lazy, stigma reinforcing Sex Work narratives that dominate the media. To prove inclusive grassroots art can be skilful and compelling. To put on an amazing show for our friends, supporters and community.
Paying our 18 person cast and crew for a month of their time, Press/PR and production costs (rehearsal space, set design, costumes, props, lighting, box office split), all rack up - our show has a West End sized cast and mini orchestra at accessible fringe theatre ticket prices.
Watch the 7 minute 'Making Of' documentary by Anna Wistreich
Did you enjoy the show? Are you coming to see it again? Do you think it sounds interesting? Are you curious? Don’t know what to make of it? Do you think personal, vulnerable, powerful political art is important?
Then please support us in whatever way you can. The most important way is to donate to us! Whether or not you can give at this time, please spread the message, spread this page, tell your friends, ask people personally to donate and help!
See our collection of over 50 true sex work stories from 17 countries online:
Ask people to blog about us, ask people to write articles on us. Spread our stories, because our stories need and deserve to be heard.
We don’t need you to save us - we need you to amplify our voice!
Read our extensive press coverage here.
"We send congratulations from Argentina, we are overjoyed at what you have created. Thanks for letting us contribute" - RedTraSex (Network of Latin American Sex Worker-led projects)
"We believe the Sex Workers’ Opera is grassroots, empowering and needs as much support as it can get to reach as far and wide as possible. It offers Sex Workers opportunities to develop new skills and the validation of being heard in their own terms, and audiences opportunities to develop a more three dimensional understanding of Sex Work whilst being entertained." - Sex Worker Open University
"Put aside your gallantry its time for a new strategy stop sadly singing my elegy radical notion: listen to me." - Anon. Sex Worker
To make this show reach the next stage we need you!
Siobhan Knox & Alex Etchart
XX - Experimental Experience
Our official 2016 image 'Rosalind' by Photographer and cast member Vera Rodriguez, available as a reward as a photo quality print signed by the photographer:
Risks and challenges
We crowdfunded our first show with great success and have sold out every show since, often with queues at the door for returns. However as we have a West End sized cast with a mini orchestra, and are charging fringe theatre ticket prices, we have not been able to pay ourselves or our group for the work to date.
That's why we're crowdfunding again, to take the project to the next level, pay our members fairly for a months work, boost the show's exposure and keep our ticket prices accessible.
To protect members' identities we involve allies so that being involved does not automatically out members as a worker, should this be a risk for their employment or family relations.
We have spent the last two years of the project managing budgets to make sure everyone's expenses are covered. From crowdfunding last time we know about all the hidden costs, and we have factored in extra space in all our estimates to ensure we're able to keep our promises.
Our members are mothers, carers, workers. One of our main reasons for crowdfunding is to ensure they will be paid no matter the ticket sales. That way childcare costs, rent, living doesn't impair any of our members from taking part.
We have raised over £5,000 in loans in order to get the project off the ground running, flyering as early on as possible, designing the set and involving new international voices through audio story commissions and skype conversations.
The more you, your friends and your family give, the more time we have to focus on art-making, involving more world voices and training our cast to face their biggest audience and longest run to date!
We have utmost faith in our group as together we have defied the greatest odds, put on amazing shows with almost no funding, serious time constraints, and rehearsal spaces cancelling on us last minute. Now we're asking for the space and peace of mind for our cult-classic-in-the-making to grow great.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)