A stone’s throw from where Sylvia Pankhurst led the fight for women’s suffrage in East London, Stratford Circus Arts Centre will present a collection of shows that explore the many fronts women continue to fight today for equality, 100 years on from the first women getting the vote. The performances in the week of International Women’s Day (8th March) range across live art, cabaret, theatre and music are deeply moving, funny and life-affirming.
The week begins with poet and live artist Helen Seymour’s debut solo show To Helen Back (6 March) which recounts her experiences of recovery from illness (and her penchant for breaking into hospitals). Funny and often bittersweet, the show was nominated for New Writing South’s Best New Play award at the 2017 Brighton Fringe. There will be an afternoon and evening show, with a relaxed performance in the afternoon and crèche facilities on offer to allow parents the opportunity to enjoy the show whilst children are cared for.
In the second debut solo show of the season, cabaret star Fancy Chance will be globe-trotting and time-travelling in Flights of Fancy (7 March), taking the audience from her origins as a Korean refugee to the present day as a darling of the London cabaret scene. In a very personal true story, Fancy Chance asks who she might have been if she hadn’t been adopted by a white American family and found her home as a performer in the capital.
Following the success of her debut show Muvvahood which toured London venues last year Stratford Circus Arts Centre Associate Artist Libby Liburd unveils the fascinating stories of female boxers in a work-in-progress performance of her new show. Staged on International Women’s Day (8 March), Fighter draws on Libby’s own experiences in the ring as well as those of the pioneers who punched the glass ceiling, including Jane Couch who became the first officially licensed British female boxer twenty years ago in March 1998. Originally the British Boxing Board of Control refused to grant Jane a licence on the grounds that she was a woman and argued that PMS made women too unstable to box.
Completing the week on 9 March, Benin City’s Shanaz Dorsett will perform her first solo headline show and launch her debut EP Cake. Through lo-fi electronica and nostalgic R’n’B sounds, and via influences that include Amy Winehouse, Kelis and Frank Ocean, Cake tells three intimate stories of coming of age, delving into body image, domesticity and female sexuality.
Speaking about the shows and the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day, Tania Wilmer of Stratford Circus said, “The battle for women’s suffrage may have ended 100 years ago but the war in achieving gender equality continues to be waged. This programme showcases four exceptional female artists from theatre, live art, cabaret and musicdisciplines who are telling stories about their modern-day experiences of what it takes for women to exist and thrive in the world today. Stratford Circus Arts Centre is committed to making theatre opportunities accessible to our audiences. We will be offering a relaxed performance which babies can be brought into and a pay-what-you-can crèche for our matinee show.”