The VAULT Festival is coming to town! From January 24th to March 18th, over three hundred new shows explode across a festival of festivals in their Waterloo home. With new venues, new bars, new food and plenty of surprises, VAULT 2018 is the biggest, fairest platform in London for artists to present innovative, daring work. Here Naomi Sheldon discusses the inspiration behind her award-winning debut play Good Girl.
Good Girl was born in the audience of a Bridget Christie show. I looked at this brilliant, furious, articulate woman raging about the state of the nation and I thought bloody hell, when was the last time I saw a woman being applauded for her anger, her sheer intensity of emotion? Certainly not during my childhood. It got me thinking about growing up and what happened to us as, often angry, young women. Good Girl is solo comic storytelling play that charts the life of GG, a young woman through the 90s to today battling with her intense feelings, the need to please, and the dissociation that can follow.
I grew up feeling a lot. I’d burst into random crying fits. In the middle of a perfectly nice shopping trip I’d collapse in snotty convulsions on the floor, and it wasn’t just because I was in C&A; passing a baton in a relay race I’d suddenly be overcome by the meaninglessness of it all and come to a teary standstill, it was a nightmare. I simply felt ‘too much’. I was angry, I was sad, I was overjoyed but it was all so intense. This did not make me part of the cool gang. Expressing emotion was dangerous, unhinged even. If you wanted to fit in you had to keep your cards close to your chest and my poker face has never been good.
How I wish I’d had Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuck on my wall but instead I had a shrine to Girl Power and Ryan Phillippe. With role models like The Spice Girls I knew that in a gang of girlfriends, I could be powerful, sexy, strong, fierce. Or did I? Geri Halliwell’s “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m gonna damn well do it” became a mantra. Directionless Girl Power had energy, had passion but for what?
“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want, I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah.” I mean what the hell is zigazig ah? Is it a bonk? Is it a pick and mix? Is it, like in the show, bringing a Guinea-Pig back to life? When GG and her friends delve into witchcraft (inspired by watching cult teen horror The Craft) she feels most in her element. In the midst of those rituals she is accepted and powerful, “we can heal the sick and levitate each other with our fucking fingertips and our minds!”, but it isn’t enough, and she’s rejected. She’s left alone with her intense feelings but with nowhere to direct them. So, to survive, she cuts them off.
Good Girl looks at what happens when you supress your emotions to fit in with the compliant status quo, when you try to be a good girl whilst your insides are on fire.
I’m making a show that celebrates the full spectrum of emotions we are often made to feel ashamed of having. It’s an ode to the people who felt like weirdos growing up and now because they felt they didn’t fit into the good girl/boy mould. Hopefully it’ll let them know there’s more of us out there. We might start a tribe.
Good Girl runs at the VAULT Festival from the 28th Feb to the 4th of March at 21:30. Tickets and more information can be found here.