Happy Yet? : a new play from Swedish playwright Katie Berglof

Happy Yet posterOpen Mind Production introduces ‘Happy Yet?’, a dark comedy by the 21 year-old Swedish playwright Katie Berglof. ‘Happy Yet?’ is scheduled for daily performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from the 15th -27th August in the Space @ Surgeon’s Hall.

Happy Yet?’ offers a fresh and thought-provoking take on depression and mood swings – from an attic apartment in Stockholm. With a pinch of Nordic noir and a satirical twist, the play tells the story of a family’s inability to understand Uncle Torsten and his battle against his unstable mind. Torsten’s façade of confidence and charisma can fool everyone – except his young niece, Nina. Living in his brother’s home, Torsten is surrounded by constant reminders of his inadequacy and inability to fit into the so-called real world. As the light-hearted judge to his failures and mischief making, Nina is Torsten’s reason to keep going. Through Torsten’s intelligence, quick wit and unnerving charm,‘Happy Yet?’ addresses the complexities and humiliations of mental illness.

‘Happy Yet?’ draws on the personal experience of the playwright who watched a family member suffer from a life-time of being misdiagnosed and misunderstood.

‘Happy Yet?‘ marks the debut of Open Mind Productions, a group committed to tackling issues of mental health. The team of young writers, artists and directors, all new to the Fringe, meet regularly at local pubs and cafes around Edinburgh- the historic hub of the Enlightenment – to explore how the arts can contribute to a more enlightened, modern take on a taboo subject: our mental health. With an energetic cast of young actors, ‘Happy Yet?’ exposes the tragic outcomes of our modern ignorance of the link between intelligence and mental illness; and conditions that are still harshly judged – and poorly understood.


Venue: the Space @ Surgeons Hall (V53)
Date: 15th-27th August 2016 (not 21st)
Times vary: 10.50am 15th -20th, 11.50 22nd -27th
Duration: 1h15
Tickets: £7/£5

Website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/happy-yet
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/happyyet2016/
Twitter: @happyyet2016

Posted in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival 2016, Women playwrights, women writers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Edinburgh Preview

Image for Poena 5X1

Poena 5X1

It’s come to that time of year again, when we have a look through the press releases for the vast numbers of shows that are going to the Edinburgh Festival and try to highlight just a few of the ones written/directed/featuring/telling strong female stories or created by women. Here are our first batch. (There are sure to be more!)

Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema

In their UK debut, presented with Underbelly Productions, Chicago-based Manual Cinema uses overhead projectors, actors, live music and hundreds of shadow puppets to tell a story of the fantastic and supernatural, exploring mourning, melancholy and self. Bereaved of her twin sister Ava, septuagenarian Ada solitarily marks time in the patterns of a life built for two. A traveling carnival and a trip to a mirror maze plunge her into a journey across the thresholds of life and death. Nearly three hundred handmade shadow puppets are manipulated on old school overhead projectors to create a live animated film. Part ghost story, part suspense thriller, Ada/Ava is a very personal portrait of two characters.
Underbelly Potterow (Topside) from 3rd August at 16:00. More info

Agent of Influence: The Secret Life of Pamela More

Lady Pamela, fashion columnist and socialite, is recruited by MI5 to keep notes on Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, suspected to be colluding with the German Embassy. But, Pamela suddenly realises that what began as an adventure has led to a deadly struggle for power in a world in the shadow of war. In the depths of a darkened bomb shelter, Lady Pamela tells a tale of adventure, espionage and intrigue, of glamorous cocktail parties, socialites and high fashion. From Jessica Beck, the director who brought Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to the Fringe in 2015, comes a journey of 1930s glamour and fear.
Underbelly Cowgate (White Belly) from 4th August at 14:40. More info


BLUSH, written by Charlotte Josephine and presented by Snuff Box Theatre, the team behind the sell-out, multi-award winning Bitch Boxer, tells five candid stories about revenge porn and all its many victims. BLUSH is a slap in the face and a call to arms. This angry, honest and heartfelt piece seeks to encourage and broaden examination of how the scarcity culture in modern society is fuelling our shame, encouraging the destructive belief systems that we are not enough. BLUSH is a fast-paced two-hander that explores where our desire to shame others comes from, the unwritten laws of gender-related responsibility and how the shame we feel at not measuring up spills out sideways into acts of violence.
Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 4th August at 18:00. More info


Staged in an actual working hair salon on Clerk Street (never before used as a Fringe venue), Foiled invites you to immerse yourself in the secret world of styling while Sabrina and her team attempt to perform mission impossible, hair-wise. ‘Bleach for the Stars’ specialises in celebrity dip dyes and off-kilter karaoke but today its doors are closed (again) so that manageress and chief style engineer Sabrina can get busy nominating herself for the prestigious Clipadvisor Salon of the Year award. When bald out-of-work actor Richie arrives for a career-saving hair-do, over-talented and under-employed assistant stylist Tanisha must convince Sabrina that you simply can’t buy success. Except, of course, when you can.
Ruby Rouge Hair Salon from 5th August at 19:00. More info

Katie Brennan’s Quarter Life Crisis

Are you crippled by student debt? Working an unpaid internship? Trying to find Prince Charming on Tinder and spending the majority of your time watching Netflix? Welcome to the life of a modern day twentysomething! Join actress and blogger Katie Brennan for a new show, packed with music, comedy and cabaret all about living that Quarter-Life Crisis. From facebook to flatshares, weddings to woeful bank accounts, career conundrums to chronically crap sex, come and raise a big glass of gin to all those twentysomethings struggling to find their place in the world.
Underbelly George Square (The Wee Coo) from 3rd August at 22:50. More info

Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield

Lucy Grace explores a life less documented in this intimate show about holding onto adventure, falling through the cracks and finding your own way back. C.S. Lewis’s dedication to his goddaughter in The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe is often acknowledged as one of the most poignant ever written yet we know nothing about the little girl it is meant for, the same little girl who gave her name to Narnia’s heroine: Lucy Pevensie. Inspired by a childhood reading fantasy novels, Lucy Grace is waiting to find the way into Narnia. Eventually it clicks; Narnia does not exist. So, Lucy returns to her favourite book to look for tips on how to survive in a world where every door leads exactly where you’d expect. Perhaps C. S. Lewis’s dedication holds the key to another wardrobe.
Pleasance Courtyard (Below) from 3rd August at 15:30. More info

Mr Incredible

Mr Incredible is a brutal new play about modern love and old-fashioned entitlement from the award-winning writer/director team behind Edinburgh Fringe 2015 sell-out show Where Do Little Birds Go?. Camilla Whitehill’s second play is a stark exploration of control, anger, and the lengths we go to stay in one place. It asks difficult questions that call for us to explore ourselves, talk and take action, not simply to think and then forget – questions that are paramount within the vital discourse around male privilege and sexual consent. Mr Incredible is the study of one man who is forced, through circumstance, to self-reflect. Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 4th August at 16:40. More info

Poena 5X1, or How I Came To Agree With Right-Wing Thinking

Sex, politics and the power of love are explored in the world premiere of this brilliant, provocative Scandi noir thriller from Northern Ireland’s multi-award-winning Abbie Spallen. Bryony Adams is an idealistic government scientist working to create a new and humane form of punishment, within a justice system crippled by prison overcrowding. But when a cabinet minister with a reputation tries to exploit her idealism for profit she feels betrayed. Her response is extreme and unexpected and will have devastating consequences for her and those she loves. Poena 5X1 has a fierce political edge and one final terrifying twist.
Underbelly Med Quad (Ermintrude) from 3rd August at 15:20. More info


We’re all told we’re looking for something, that some part of ourselves is missing, that somewhere we fall short – we’re not political enough, not skinny enough, not sexy enough, not brave enough. The search is over. Stop looking. Part gig, part refracted and reflecting stories, Torch explores what it means to be a woman. From Flipping the Bird, in collaboration with Channel 4 Playwright Phoebe Eclair-Powell (Wink) and actor Jess Mabel Jones (Backstage in Biscuitland), comes a show that looks at freedom and celebrates choice in the world today. Torch does not set out to solve feminism but provoke it, laugh at and with it, and detonate it.
Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 4th August at 20:50. More info

*If you go to Edinburgh and want to write a review for us of any of the female-centred/-centric shows you see, then please get in touch, we’d love to feature your writing. 


Posted in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival 2016, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Three short plays expose their writers

poster for bare.“We are three twenty something women telling stories, and working together to form a narrative.”

Nothing is more thrilling and terrifying than completely exposing yourself. Not just baring your flesh, but your fears, secrets, and soul. bare. is an intimate evening of fresh, one-woman performances. International stories of sex, fear, love, inspiration, mental illness, strength, despair, independence, vulnerability, and everything in-between.

“We’ve had a host of wonderful directorial influence, and practitioners who’ve been incredibly supportive and giving. Though the pieces have different content, they are interlinked and will be woven together into a whole performance.”

IBZ is a wild piece penned by Kat Ronson. Sex. Love. Ibiza. Ecstasy. When Girl meets Him, life changes forever. How far will she go for her first love?

Steffanie Freedoff’s in the beginning there was Word is a piece of performance poetry about finding the depths of one’s soul at the point of a pen. Grace finds strength, courage, and her right to speak at a TEDtalk in Chicago.

“What does it sound like to you? is it loud? can you outrun it?” meet Lucy, and the messy line between normality and conformity with Mind the Gap written and performed by Madeleine Dunne.

Each of the writer/performers studied MA Acting at East 15 where they learned the importance of being able to create their own work.

Kat Ronson was the brains behind the show and is a writer/actor, and artistic director. Kat had already written her one woman play years earlier, but hadn’t found the appropriate time, or felt able to share it until ‘bare.’ Steffanie had previously performed her piece, and Madeleine was yet to write hers. But they were determined to share their stories, despite their content being particularly, metaphorically exposing.

For those of a sensitive disposition don’t be worried, there is no live explicit nudity (other than video footage). But the writers do recommend that audiences be aware of the sensitive content, loud noises, explicit language and potentially upsetting subject matters in the plays.

bare. plays for a limited time at the Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton, 14-16 July  at 7:30pm.

£10 standard / £8 concession. PLEASE NOTE SEATING IS EXTREMELY LIMITED.

Tickets  / Twitter: @bare_play

Posted in female playwrights, new work, new writing, plays by female writers, plays to see, Women playwrights, women writers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

World Premiere of Shangri-la by Amy Ng

Shangri-la at the Finborough Theatre image

Shangri-la at the Finborough Theatre

“You like your minorities like your pandas – picturesque, cuddly, endangered, helpless. But I refuse to be a panda. I refuse to go extinct. I want to live, to live well, to live like them.”

What happens when the only thing you have to sell is your culture? When the only way to free yourself is to betray your roots? Based on her personal experiences, new playwright Amy Ng lays bare the contradictions and private pain of cultural tourism. Shangri-La is Amy Ng’s first full length play. It was developed at the Tricycle Theatre and received a staged reading at Vibrant 2014 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights. It is directed by acclaimed director Charlotte Westenra.

Shangri-La is not a myth. Shangri-La is a place. The Himalayan foothills of China’s Yunnan Province were officially renamed ‘Shangri-La’ in a successful bid for the tourist dollar.

Bunny, a young indigenous woman, has witnessed her family’s livelihood destroyed by mass tourism. She dreams of escape — as a globe-trotting photographer. Nelson, her liberal Chinese boss, dreams of a new kind of tourism that’s sustainable and enables genuine cultural exchange. Their white Western clients yearn for escape, for the touch of something authentic. These desires collide head on in Shangri-La.

Shangri-La is on at the Finborough Theatre, from Tuesday, 12 July – Saturday, 6 August 2016. Website.


Posted in female director, female playwrights, new work, plays by female writers, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Edinburgh previews at the Bread and Roses

Bread and Roses photoThe Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham is entering its second year and launching a special Early Summer and Edinburgh Fringe Preview Season this June to early August.

The season begins with a series of one-week-runs:

Weird Sisters Theatre Company presents Airswimming by Charlotte Jones, directed by Stephanie Goodfellow: Tuesday 21st to Saturday 25th June (Edinburgh Preview). Shortlisted for the Broadway Baby Bobby Award 2016. See article.

SISATA presents Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy – adapted and directed by Charmaine K Parkin: Tuesday 28th June to Saturday 2nd July. Four actors play multiple roles in what is an enigmatic and fast paced telling of virtue, love and injustice, but above all the impact of this on the human condition.

Heckcelsior presents Hardcross written and directed by Dominika Visy: Tuesday 5th to Saturday 9th July. When Rodney Hardcross’ death is announced, his children reluctantly gather, however, before his testament can be revealed, Rodney has one final request that outrages everyone.

Goblin Baby Theatre Co. presents Alone Inside the Box monologues by Connor Patrick Carroll, Liam Patrick Harrison, Tessa Hart, Tom Jensen, Sian Rowland, Judy Upton and Naomi Westerman: Tuesday 12th to Saturday 16th July.  From comedy to tragedy, from abstract to literal, these are thought-provoking stories of characters, sometimes stuck in an actual box, sometimes in a metaphorical one, sometimes both.

Elicit Theatre Company presents A Merry Regiment Of Women by Rae Shirley in which Lady Macbeth assembles five of Shakespeare’s most well-known female characters, however, events do not go according to plan, as three of his popular male characters arrive to shake things up: Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th July ;

Shark Eat Muffin Theatre Company presents their Edinburgh preview of Best Intentions, featuring modern adaptations of two pivotal, but often overlooked, women in Shakespeare’s “Othello” and “Romeo and Juliet”: 2nd to 6th August

The season also features a lot of one-off Edinburgh Fringe Previews, so check out the website for full details. From Tuesday 26th to Sunday 31st July in particular the theatre is hosting a week dedicated to Edinburgh Previews, with several shows per day.

Bread and Roses website



Posted in Edinburgh Festival 2016, female led theatre company, female theatre companies, plays by female writers, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Weird Sisters present Airswimming

Weird Sisters photoWeird Sisters was founded in 2014 in Guildford by three experienced female practitioners: Tanya Chainey, Stephanie Goodfellow and Alison Nicol, with the aim of producing work that takes risks, asks difficult questions, and provides strong and interesting roles for women. Their first production of Fewer Emergencies by Martin Crimp found high praise, and this play looks to continue the trend.

Although it’s a fairly common story in fiction, it seems likely that it was never huge numbers of unmarried women who found themselves locked away in asylums because they had become pregnant outside of marriage in the early years of the 1900s, it was more likely that they would end up at the work house, or at a refuge centre where their child would be forcibly adopted*. However, even one case is too many.

Weird Sisters’ new show, Charlotte Jones’ 1997 debut play Airswimming, covers this story and is at Bread and Roses this week before going to the Edinburgh Festival, then back home to Guildford. In 1924, Persephone Baker is planning her coming-out ball at the Dorchester when she finds herself abandoned at St Dymphna’s Hospital for the Criminally Insane, with only “unhinged, cigar smoking, monomaniac transsexual” Dora Kitson for company.

Forgotten for fifty years, they create alter egos who exist in a surreal fantasy world enlivened by Doris Day, two thousand Bolshevik women, a Moulinex hand whisk and airswimming.

The show was rated 5 stars on Broadway Baby and Highly recommended from its run at the Brighton Fringe. Airswimming plays at the Bread & Roses Pub Theatre, 68 Clapham Manor St, London from 21 to 25 June at 8pm.

Weird Sisters website

Book tickets on the Bread and Roses website 

*’The Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, allowed local authorities to certify and institutionalise, generally unmarried, pregnant women who were deemed ‘defective’ … The numbers are unknown and probably few, but some sad victims were discovered in mental hospitals as late as 1971, having been there since the 1920s.’ (Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England by Pat Thane and Tanya Evans. OUP 2012)




Posted in Edinburgh Festival 2016, female director, female led theatre company, female playwrights, female theatre companies, plays by female writers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Female writers, directors and performers experiment and innovate at RADA Festival

David's Bunker by Lily Bevan image

David’s Bunker by Lily Bevan

The RADA Festival returns to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art this summer from 22 June – 2 July, with a programme including 30 different theatre companies and two one-off forum events. Graduates of the Academy will return to RADA to present works ranging from rehearsed readings and one-person shows, to cabaret, comedy and reinventions of the classics.

One of the themes of the Festival is Women’s Identity, and it seems like the majority of work is by female writers, directors and performers, and female-male collaborations.

A panel debate, Sisterhood (24 June, 6pm), chaired by Bonnie Greer, will present a lively and frank debate on the solidarity and celebration of women, based on shared conditions, experiences and concerns within theatre and everyday life. Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Emma Rice, RADA Acting graduate Tanya Moodie, co-founder of Women@RADA Melanie Jessop and director of Tonic Theatre Lucy Kerbel all join the discussion.

During the festival some of the presentations include:

In The Gut (25 & 29 June) by Les Femmes Ridicule. This funny, tragic and ridiculous show about pregnancy, parenting and growing up involves an array of charming and grotesque characters: chefs with birthing recipes, smug mothers, barmy historians and more. The show is supported by The Miscarriage Association and The Maternal Mental Health Alliance.

Sweets and Chocolate (23 Jun – 1 Jul), supported by Kali Theatre uses movement and music to tell the stories of three women from three different cultures. It explores the effects of child abuse on three seemingly unconnected lives: Nadia, a cricket-obsessed Pakistani girl; M’Bilia, a devout churchgoer in the Congo; and Catherine, the headmistress of an English private school.

The Power Behind The Crone (22 & 27 June) is an exuberant monologue reflecting on the roles for older women in Shakespeare, discovering first-hand the full power and glory of Shakespearean ‘crones’.

One-woman show Foreign Body (27 & 29 June), about hope, healing and forgiveness after sexual assault, uses a charged combination of verbatim and physical theatre to tell a brave, liberating and life-affirming story. The show will be supported by a Q&A session featuring representatives from The Forgiveness Project and Clear Lines.

There are lots of other interesting looking performances, a few others that caught my eye are: are Songstring, Today I live, Birdwatching and Sisterbound, as well as a radio play, David’s Bunker.

For the full event listings, visit www.rada.ac.uk/festival. Tickets start at £5.

Posted in Festival, Literary Festival, new writing, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Rebellious Acts flier

14 May 2016

Female Arts in association with South Street Arts Centre celebrate five years of gender equality activism with ‘Rebellious Acts’ an evening of incendiary new writing on Saturday 14 May at South Street Arts Centre in Reading. (Book here.) 

Rebellious Acts features rehearsed readings of short plays by female playwrights, followed by Isobel’s War by Kate Saffin; a drama about a young woman defying family expectations to manage boats and cargo in World War II. The evening closes with a post-show discussion on feminism in theatre.

Rebellious Acts forms part of Female Arts magazine’s fifth birthday celebrations. The online gender equality arts magazine was founded at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2011.

Editor-in-Chief Wendy Thomson said “Five years ago I started this online magazine / movement called Female Arts and what a fabulous collective of empowering, talented, inspiring women and men it is – who all share a vision of a fairer world: where women have an equal profile to men in the mainstream media and the focus is on what women do and say. Obviously this goes beyond the arts, and is about addressing wider inequalities in everyday life.”

Rebellious Acts is complimented by free-to-attend writing workshops on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 May, as part of Reading Year of Culture. Wendy Thomson explains:

“On Friday 13 May we’re holding a review writing workshop to encourage volunteer writers to join our magazine. This is aimed at young men and women with an interest in journalism. Through a combination of discussion and practical exercises, attendees will learn the role of the critic and how to structure a performing arts review.” Book here.

“On Saturday 14th May we’re running a short-playwrighting workshop aimed at women from diverse and marginalised backgrounds who want to explore the playwrighting process.” Book here. 

The playwrighting workshop is for women only “because women are outnumbered two to one by men among British playwrights which is why it is so important to improve visibility and recognition of female voices in all our diversity.”

Both workshops are free to attend but must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.

Rebellious Acts is supported by South Street Arts Centre. Rebellious Acts and the writing workshops have been granted funding by Reading Borough Council as part of Reading Year of Culture 2016.

#RebelliousActs / #FemaleArts5 / @femalearts / For full details visit: www.femalearts.com

Posted in Debate, Discussion, FemaleArts, feminism, gender equality, Women playwrights, women writers, workshop, writing tips | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

WhitLit Festival presents The End of the Affair



KCT poster

A new play by Alison Mead will be part of the Whitstable Literary Festival. (You can see our interview with Alison about her previous play A century of great women.)

The new play The end of the affair explores hope, chance and life in the theatre. It surveys our current attitudes to ageing and the glut of “reality” that pours out of our television screens. It is a homage to optimism.

Whitstable Library, 14 May, 4.30pm

Tickets available from www.horsebridge-centre.org.uk



Posted in female playwrights, Festival, Literary Festival, plays by female writers, Women playwrights, women writers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Eggs by Florence Keith-Roach: interview

17Percent recently interviewed Florence ahead of seeing her new play Eggs performed at the London Vaults, as part of the Vault festival. This unsuspecting venue, which used to be the Old Vic tunnels tucked next to/below Waterloo station, has been transformed for a time into a wintry version of the Edinburgh Fringe. The feel of the place reverberates through the space of the Crescent, where is Eggs is being staged, and there’s a collective excitement in the audience that comes with a natural fringe setting. In fact this play had its first outing at Edinburgh last year, but has since been developed by Keith-Roach and her creative team.

A rudely honest piece that explores darker aspects of female friendship, the play presents us with a funny yet, at times, surprisingly outlook on the way young (Y generation) women relate by constantly competing with one another, sometimes to the point of self-destruction. In the space of an hour we watch episodes across two years of a friendship that has been defined in the wake of losing a mutual friend. Girl 1 and Girl 2, played by Keith-Roach and Amani Zardoe are both in their late twenties, but exist in completely difference spheres, but also just down the road from one another.

Even though they ruthlessly berate one another’s lifestyle choices, from work to relationships and confronting their identity as fertile (or not) women approaching 30, there remains a deep connection that saves them from the total alienation of finding your way in the world. Keith-Roach’s writing doesn’t shy away from any of this aggressive reality, but in the end Eggs celebrates the inherent sisterly bond that allows women to face these questions together, and laugh at them.

Joanna Lally spoke to Florence Keith-Roach for 17Percent.

JL: It seems that, even during this optimistic moment for feminism, many women are still confronted by the expectations of society as well as our own bodies. How did personal experience of these types of pressure drive you to bring such issues on to the stage?

FKR: As I wrote Eggs I was discovering just how many of my internal anxieties are born out of systemic external pressure. Most of these I am barely aware of, numb to the incessant and insidious adverts showing women in their 30s urging us to cover up grey hairs or find the perfect date online. We are constantly reminded how liberated we are in the media, beautiful women with ten Oscars and fifteen children are plastered on front covers of magazines. In this era of “choice feminism” the blame for failure is laid shamefully at our feet, rather than linked to the patent inequalities with which our culture is rife. We are sexualised in our youth and cast aside in our middle age, told we are equal and empowered yet shut up and vilified by anonymous misogynistic trolls. It is this turmoil that my characters are attempting to make sense of in Eggs. That I am still trying to make sense of in life.

JL: In this vane, Eggs seems like an incredibly exciting, and timely, piece of work explored through another topic: female friendship. In your view, are experiences of fertility and femininity inextricably linked? 

FKR: Have you observed this shadow hanging over relationships with female friends? As I entered my late twenties, I suddenly started to be cast as a young mum. Of course this is not radical, I am of a “mothering” age, but the chasm between society’s view of me and my own feelings about motherhood (not planning it anytime soon) were striking. I was over 25 and therefore a young mum with someone else’s baby strapped to my chest. My female friends have an array of attitudes towards motherhood, fertility, womanhood and femininity. One can be extremely feminine and infertile, or overwhelming fecund and entirely un-feminine. It is a colourful spectrum and this is what makes writing about women so rich and complex. However, as we mature out of our 20s and into our 30s, we are having more and more conversations about motherhood, fatherhood and the indomitable force that is our fertility. Whether you chose to ignore it or to embrace it, I think women do have to address is at one point or another.

JL: The play also looks at the experience of fragmentation. Would you agree that a sisterly bond between women helps retain our sense of self in an alienating world?

FKR: Absolutely, yes. My female friendships have always been my source of strength and rationale, have brought me back from many a precipice. These connections are mysterious, mercurial, volatile and dynamic. They have been so formative for my self and my understanding of the world.

JL: Music, especially pop and disco, has been an important feature in your previous work, including critically acclaimed play Love to Love to Love you. Can you say more about the way music influences your writing, and perhaps the world of your characters?

FKR: My first play was a musical about sex, disco and loneliness. All the characters danced and lip-synched to iconic disco tracks in between scenes.  It was a farce and a celebration of a music genre I love, but the music also provided much of the pathos of the piece, which was about the anticlimax of a modern, fragmented life.  My short film, Frenching the Bully, is about two dweebs obsessed with the utterly brilliant and unique grunge singer Mia Zapata of the Gits. Her gritty authenticity provides a constant contrast to their flaky, quest for fame.

Eggs focuses on 90’s dance/pop music. This is the music from the characters’ youth. They are nostalgic for this past, a past before responsibility, before grief, a time of best friends, chokers, Romy and Michelle’s High school reunion and dance routines in nightclubs.

In short there has been a soundtrack to many of my most formative experiences in life. So when I write about these experiences, it is natural that music is always near at hand.  I keep tabs of great music sequences in films and feel that, though its role is different, great music is too often ignored in theatre.

JL: Are there any specific challenges or rewards in writing (and performing in) a two- hander? How does that fraught nature of female friendship, which you choose to explore in Eggs, translate in performance? 

FKR: A two hander allows one to really explore character and relationships. I had so much to say about female friendships that by choosing to focus on just one such connection, I could actually portray a far more intricate and multifaceted picture. The characters are witty, sharp and cutting at times, they have a highly nuanced relationship, and bringing out this unique flavour in performance has been one of the most exciting and enriching experiences of the whole process. Lucy Wray, the director, has brought insight and tenderness to this piece, she has made me realise things about these women that I did not know existed even as the writer. Performing a two hander is intense, we never leave the stage and the audience are offered no respite from these two women. As an actor this has been a steep learning curve. We have worked to expand our range, present all the different angles of these women, and to really build a deep, relationship with a lot of history on stage. Amani Zardoe’s performance is so thorough, dynamic and tender.  I have learnt lot from working opposite her. Hopefully all our work in rehearsals means that the audience are presented with women who are both wholly recognisable and loveable, laughable and terrifying. It was these multiple, complex women that I was striving to portray in the writing, and naturally, it has only been in the performing of them that they are truly brought to life.

JL:  Following on from the above, it is notable that the production team for this play is largely female driven. Was this a conscious choice? And has the experience of working together had an impact on the play’s content, and perhaps on perceptions of your own experience? 

FKR: I began working with Lucie Massey, producer and co-founder of Orphee Productions, when I was looking to stage my first play. I knew no-one in theatre, especially no producers, and Lucie had been organising some really interesting events which I had been to. When we came to  build the rest of our team, I just looked around my talented friends and they all happened to be female. For my next play,  I had been engaging more and more with the shocking statistics about gender disparity in the arts, and inequality in general. When I started writing Eggs, I had made a conscious decision to focus solely on the female gaze.  I felt it was important have a female director, but Lucy Wray was the stand out choice regardless of gender. She had been dong some very exciting work, so we were thrilled that she was interested. Orphee Productions is not exclusively female at all, but  I feel that  we need to work together to champion more diverse perspectives, and this will always remain our priority.

Eggs closed its VAULT festival run on 6 March, but it feels as though this play is really just beginning to hatch – we expect to see it enjoy life elsewhere in the near future. It has also been published in a collection by Nick Hern Books as one their 5 best plays from the festival.

For more information on Florence and Orphee Productions, see her website.


Posted in Interview, Plays for today by women, Uncategorized, Women playwrights, women writers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment