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i am somebody: sirqus alfron

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the power of burlesque bodymap: glitta supernova, lolo brow: attention seeker & pussy liquor

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tales of the mother tongue

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the woman who conceived the pill

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help! i think i might be fabulous

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feature: class and capitalism land of three towers & standard: elite

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white girls

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when the wind blows

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feature: sculpting the man

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Feature: oh to be happy

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brawn

10 steps to happiness & the ayahuasca diaries

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love letters to rappers

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the invention of lesbianism

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feature: a finger up to silence lolly jones, arielle souma: souma untitled & louise reay: eraserhead

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mixed race white bloke

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feature: making the invisible visible stealth aspies & stephen carlin: rise of the autistic

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baba brinkman

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iris prize: a celebration of lgbt film

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editorial note I watch our unique city erupt into sparkles each spring. As winter fades into a distant ache, the sunshine brings not only the promise of summer but a hive of creative activity, artistic protest and unbridled expression. I happily welcome the Brighton Fringe Festival. Get To Know the talent of The Fringe through articles written by a new generation of journalists. This magazine is an independent platform which provides opportunity to both artist and writer. The 2017 maiden edition was limited to short previews, however this year we have expanded to include features which explore issues of sexuality, feminism, race, mental health and learning disability. We hope to highlight to you the important political and social dialogue offered by the The Festival. It is not simply burlesque; it is female empowerment. It is not only comedy; it is political protest. Delve inside to discover the important influence of the arts.

Jessica Rings

editor in chief and art director

Greta Galavan

editorial assistant and financing

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Rose Williamson

editorial assistant and subeditor

Anna Robb

social media and digital marketing

Andrew Stewart

social media and digital marketing

Chelsea Kerley

public relations and press

contributors Oscar Djama, Sotiris Ilkos, Nicola Morrison, Saara-Maria Salonen, Ed Torrance, Becky Whittaker, Eloise Hanson, Chris Phillips, Lydia Wilkins, Emily Cross, Louisa Streeting, Angeliki Avgeri, Andrew Stewart, Luke Williams


sirqus alfron

i am somebo

The overall pick of The Fringe for Adelaide last year, now comes to Brighton with its immersive technological performance. Playing with identity, reality and connectivity, Sirqus Alfron has created an artistic glimpse in to a post-internet world. Before 1990 it was impossible to imagine the internet and the online world it would create. Fast forward to 2018 and for millennials it is impossible to imagine life without it. The technological world is constantly evolving and Sirqus Alfron’s I am Somebody captures this in the form of theatre. The show’s high-tech performance creates an alternative world, with the help of an electro clown, beat boxing, chaos, automated lasers and software that generates real-time music videos. The show originated from a street performance and the narrative is simple, to take you on a creative journey by combining music and technology. The show does not have a traditional rigid story line, but is built around a myriad of performers who all have their own oasis within the show, playing with pop-culture, lights and videos. I Am Somebody is unlike any performance you may have seen before as it calls upon the audience to be active, to become immersed in a bizarre post-internet world. Had this performance been conceptualised in the Romantic era, one would assume it was a by-product of opium usage. Attempting to explain the show through literature is a near impossible task and does not do it justice. These skilled producers from Sweden deliver the most eccentric and electrifying piece of physical theatre that you are likely to find at The Fringe this year and is the reason Sirqus Alfron won the Pick of The Fringe award in Adelaide in 2017. I Am Somebody is for the visionaries, the ones who want to escape reality and explore the technological future.

The show comes at a time when technology and human life are intertwined. A study conducted by Deloitte in 2014 found that 18-24 year-olds check their phones an average of 74 times a day. This co-dependency on technology can propel society’s functioning, especially with regards to communication. Imagining a life without the ability to contact someone instantly is unnerving to millennials. The development of the internet has undeniably enhanced human knowledge and its impact is seen through research by the Pew Centre who found a strong correlation between a country’s wealth and internet access. The internet has revolutionised the workings of the human race and for millennials its impact is unacknowledged due to it being commonplace. Although technology has a place within society, it does have a falsifying lure. For many, connectivity has led to social platforms becoming a pain killer as opposed to a vitamin. We constantly have the ability and need to be connected to others. However, digital communication removes the humanistic elements of conversation that are achieved through physical encounters, creating hollow conversations that lack empathy. Another negative by-product of online communication is the feeling of isolation that many people experience. Online platforms have become awash with narcissistic tendencies that attempt to portray the idealistic lifestyle. We have become immune to technology and the effects it has on society, seeing it as a necessity to function. The discourse around the hyper-dependence on technology is likely to evolve with each generation. At a pinnacle time


Cabaret

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ody in this debate, Sirqus Alfron are revolutionising theatre and standing in opposition to the traditional performance structure that has been implemented since the Renaissance.

everybody to say to themselves. We want to offer a very playful and enjoyable experience and the ultimate scenario is that the audience finds their own imagination and playfulness.”

I Am Somebody challenges the stereotypical usage of technology and uses it to inspire creativity throughout the performance. Martin, a performer in the show, says, “The show begins with the audience being involved and controlling the graphics, and it ends with the audience being able to test things on stage, but only if you have the courage and will to play.”

The show is inclusive, requiring the audience to be present in the moment and look beyond the mundane use of technology and the isolated world that it often created online. If you want to see a truly unique piece of physical theatre which is a glimpse into the technological future, Sirqus Alfron’s performance is for you.

This approach to performing demonstrates an innovative flair that is comical and thought provoking. It is created for the audience. Martin adds, “I Am Somebody is something we want

By Greta Galavan

Photo © Kim Nilsson

For many, connectivity has led to social platforms becoming a pain killer as opposed to a vitamin

You can immense yourself in I Am Somebody in May on the 5th til 7th at 6pm or 15th and 16th at 8pm at The Warren.


the powe

bur


Cabaret

er of

rlesque Burlesque is at the forefront of the movement for self-acceptance and feminist exploration of sexuality - and it’s never been so spectacular. Rose Williamson speaks to two acts who are using their art for activism at The Fringe this year. Only a few decades ago, any concept of burlesque would probably include feathers, red lipstick and an all male audience. While the feathers and lipstick remain, burlesque has a new perspective, refuting the idea that the female performer is beholden to an audience. Today’s female and non-binary burlesque performers are unapologetic, emotional and political. Luckily there will be many chances this year at Brighton Fringe to bear witness to, and become a part of the movement. Fringe culture and burlesque are irrevocably intertwined, challenging oppressive ideas around sexuality and sexual empowerment, replacing objectification with agency. Original burlesque theatre was an extended mockery of the powers that be, with caricatures of kings and parodies of popes. While our definition of burlesque has shifted in society, it continues to mock power, its modern inception a challenge to the corporate machine that attempts to define the body. Three acts setting the bar for this modern revolution in burlesque are Lolo Brow, London’s Pussy Liquor and Australia’s Glitta Supanova. Though half the world away from each other, all three have set about creating performative spaces that explore gender and sexuality outside of heteronormative and patriarchal conditions. If the mainstream relies on you believing in created ‘imperfections’ in your

body or identity, this is where burlesque becomes transgressive, empowering both performers and the audience to reject any concept of a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kind of self. Sex clown, satirist and defining figure for burlesque in Australia, Glitta Supanova, comes to Brighton Fringe this year with her show, Bodymap. We spoke with her about her career, her ideology and how one might access the ‘she-beast-within,’ to get an idea of what to expect at the Spiegeltent come June. Glitta says, “In terms of my art, my body is my weapon for social change, my nudity is my costume and my physicality is my expression. I feel like my whole journey has been about exploring the physical body in all its pleasures and pains, exploring its thresholds, its limitations and its endurances. How far can I push it?” While this show may be a map of her own changing relationship with her body, there is an important challenge to the audience - why is there this shift in perception that makes her sexual performance art more ‘radical’ than that of her youth? “Not only has my relationship with my body changed but my audience’s relationship with my body has changed. In my youth, performing what was seen to be a radical act would have seen me pissing from a human pyramid into the audience. But a radical act

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today for any ‘woman of my age’ is being nude. Being sexual, genuinely accepting and loving yourself, refuting the so called ‘imperfections’ the ‘incorporated’ planet is telling us we all have, from saggy tits to hanging pink bits. Ageism and sexism go hand in hand.” She makes the important point that female insecurities, are big business. Though mainstream advertising is slowly waking up to the idea that it might be in its interest to celebrate women from all walks of life, the young, white and thin cisgender woman remains central to the Hollywood ideal. “From the moment we were born layer upon layer of propaganda has been piled upon us. If you realise it’s all a sham, then all you need to do is follow your heart to the real you. The most radical act you can do is to actually love and accept yourself, and from that point create the world you want to live in... create art that activates change.” Glitta’s career is testimony to this clause. In the early 1990s she was working as a stripper, being ‘traditionally sexy,’ a more mainstream idea of sexual performance. But she knew she needed more. “I discovered I had much more fun being demented, vulgar and humorous.” So 1998 saw her open Gurlesque, the first club of its kind in Australia. It was, she says, “A strip club for women run by women, a women only space for women of all sexualities, a place to explore female sexuality, without the male gaze.” Such spaces are rare across the world to this day. One group echoing these sentiments, is Pussy Liquor, who will be celebrating their second birthday with Disco Pussy at The Fringe. Though Corinne O’Sullivan and Mousey Worth started the collective twenty years after Glitta’s Gurlesque, they were similarly motivated by the lack of cabaret that celebrated women/non-binaries in the eyes of other women/non-binaries. Corinne says, “We wanted to create a night that was specifically feminist in aim and where that demographic takes centre stage, and also takes up the audience. Men are allowed to come but the absence of the male gaze is important to us.” Though the night was founded in London, Corinne lived in Brighton until recently and said the culture here informed much of the politics behind the show. It made sense to have a homecoming of sorts, for a celebration of their success. Glitta mentions that at the outset of her career in burlesque there was a pressure to label yourself within the binary, and that even some feminist communities saw the idea of a burlesque club to be regressive, that it was taking the movement

backwards. But it can be seen that over the course of just one generation, burlesque and cabaret have proved themselves as the means to tear down society’s labels, finding the feminism in hedonism. Corinne points to the progress we have made within wider society, “I think there has been a resurgence recently of the popularity of queer and alternative cabaret because of the social climate we live in. People are realising more and more about how constructed gender and sexuality is, and thus want to explore this on stage. Cabaret supports a discourse about identity, performance, what is real, what is constructed, what should be celebrated and as such cabaret acts are continuously pushing boundaries and are endlessly political.” The pressure to label yourself is slowly fading away within performative communities, liberating the discourse and ideas on identity. Lolo Brow has also been making herself known in in London with her flamboyant feminist approach to performance for several years now. Describing herself as obsessed with audience interaction, Attention Seeker is set to not only question the notion of burlesque, but also any wider idea of the performer/audience relationship. There isn’t one word to describe art like this, it is constantly pushing beyond expectations, then questioning why you had them to begin with. The fluidity and even vulgarity of artistic activism found in a evening with Lolo Brow represents a progression in our collective attitude to what feminism can be. Particularly in that Glitta mentions at the outset of her career in burlesque, there was a pressure to label yourself within the binary. Twenty years ago some feminist communities saw the idea of a burlesque club to be regressive, that it was taking the movement backwards. But it can be seen that over the course of just one generation, burlesque and cabaret proved themselves as the means to tear down society’s labels, finding the feminism in hedonism. Corinne also points to the progress we have made within wider society, “I think there has been a resurgence recently of the popularity of queer and alternative cabaret because of the social climate we live in. People are realising more and more about how constructed gender and sexuality is, and thus want to explore this onstage. Cabaret supports a discourse about identity, performance, what is real, what is constructed, what should be celebrated and as such cabaret acts are


Cabaret

continuously pushing boundaries and are endlessly political.” The pressure to label yourself is slowly fading away within performative communities, liberating the discourse and ideas on identity. While we have a way to go where women and non-binary individuals can be consistently free to celebrate and explore their identities, this activism to be found in burlesque is setting a standard for the rest of the world to follow. The performances to be found here are not just breaking down prescribed definitions of sexiness and female sexuality, but proving they were never real to begin with. The political potential within taking hold of one’s own sexual representation, in a society where the female body is constantly objectified by heterosexist values, is clear. Modern day burlesque has become a collective challenge to the status quo, creating its own culture of conversation and respect. Don’t miss Pussy Liquor present Disco Pussy on May 20th at Brighton Spiegeltent; Lolo Brow perform Attention Seeker May 28th; and Bodymap by Glitta Supanova, June 1st and 2nd, Brighton Spiegeltent.

Photo © Nathan Jones

By Rose Williamson

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tales of th tongue Breaking new ground with her multilayered style of performance, while creating space for lost narratives of the past, El-Ansari’s Tales of the Mother Tongue is set to be a cultural highlight for The Fringe.

Photo ©`Estabrak El-Ansari

Estabrak El-Ansari comes to The Marlborough Theatre in May, with a performative experience to shed light on the intricacies and reality of the history of Morocco’s people. Over the course of human history, colonisation has obstructed the intended path of many nations, Western aggression inhibiting the natural recourse for social remembrance. When the French forced themselves in to Morocco’s story, they also attempted to wipe out

the native language and take control of its narrative history. But now, El-Ansari and her art work can be seen as part of a global movement, finding a way back to cultural identity and a true representation of the past. Most of the old tales of Morocco went unwritten, after writing and speaking in the native language was forbidden by invaders. But stories continue

her art work can be seen as part of a global movement, finding a way back to cultural identity


theatre

he mother to trickle down through the generations, a living, breathing, history of the people, a collective memory. Tales of the Mother Tongue will recall this voice, in a performance to be told mainly through the stories of women, with elements of painting, film, and poetry. El-Ansari is perhaps best described as an artist, her overlapping talents of filmmaking, visual artistry, photography and storytelling, all contributing to a comprehensive career to date. As such, Tales of the Mother Tongue is to be something quite unlike anything else you will see in The Fringe with its multifaceted approach to performance art. What is most intriguing here is the way in which the rules we tend to live by with one type of art or another, or one type of person or another, are seamlessly eroded. If there is to be a distinction between types of artistic creation, then why not make the dissolution of that divide part of an ongoing artwork, a progressive and multidisciplinary approach to telling a story. A particularly rare element in terms of live performance, is El-Ansari’s focus on live painting. LPP (Live.Projection.Painting) to ‘paint films to life, live,’ was developed alongside her all female collective Thre3 Strokes. Film and painting become intertwined, making each time the film is viewed slightly different for the audience. By constantly shifting and playing with boundaries El-Ansari’s art reflects a life in transience. Born in Iraq, she came to the UK as a child refugee and grew up in Lon-

don. She went on to study at Central St Martins, where she befriended the women who would come to form Thre3 Strokes. She later studied a Masters in film and media production, evidenced through the filmic aspect to much of her work. Today her work has been shown all over the world, exhibiting in New York, Dubai, Royal Academy of Arts and the Tate. Further testament to the global influence and reflection to be found in her work, her art has also been presented to the UN. Now based in London and Oman she can be seen to be a strong, feminist voice, one that is important not only to artistic communities, but for the world. If Brighton Fringe exists for any reason, it is to celebrate those performers and creatives so often excluded from the mainstream. El-Ansari’s art is all this and more, a celebration of women and a nation’s culture, and yet subtly puts society under the lens. What does it indicate about the past, that to tell the story of a nation, from the mouths of women, is transgressive? How can we shape ourselves and our future to ensure we move onwards from this? The consistent themes of El-Ansari’s work must surely guide any cultural reflection on the past - transformation, transcendence and mother tongues. Tales of the Mother Tongue can be seen at the Marlborough Theatre; 4th May 7.30pm, 6th May 5.30pm. By Rose Williamson

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the woman who conceived the pill The fight for sexual autonomy for women has never been allowed to fade into the history books. In light of fresh threats from increasingly conservative governments, Sarah Hickingbottom’s one woman show takes us back to the creation of modern day birth control, what it meant then, and what the fight for contraceptive rights continues to mean for a global feminist movement. In wake of the Weinstein scandal and the progression of the #MeToo movement it comes as no surprise that this year’s Brighton Fringe has an impressive selection of events portraying feminism. Gender pay-gaps, sexual abuse and harassment have been at the forefront of the media and it shows no signs of slowing down. Women across the globe are coming together and

feeling stronger than ever. It’s certainly as good a time as any to celebrate this through art and performance, especially at The Brighton Fringe. This May, Brightonians and tourists alike will have a selection of girl-power events to choose from, but something in particular stands out reflecting current global affairs of all things sex, contraception and abortion rights. The Woman Who Conceived the Pill is a debut, one-woman show written and performed by Sarah Hickingbottom, a consultant in bio-based chemicals by day, an actress/playwright by night.

Allowing women the decision, rather than the obligation to bear children


theatre

It’s a theatre piece dedicated to the life and achievements of Margaret Sanger, an incredible woman, highly regarded as a founder of modern-day birth control. Her philosophy, in the early 1900s, was to prevent unnecessary and sometimes life-threatening back-alley abortions for women - to fight for the right of planned parenthood, allowing women the decision, rather than the obligation to bear children.

which subsequently got her arrested when an undercover policewoman ‘sought advice’. Sarah talked of her hopes for her debut: “I think The Fringe is a brilliant place to be. I have seen some spectacular shows there and if I can be as good as some of them it would make me really proud.” The show will boast the actress playing eight different roles, portraying the many characters in Margaret Sanger’s story for women’s rights.

In 1916, at a time when abortion and contraception were illegal in the US, Sanger opened her first birth control clinic. A controversial and daring decision

“It’s a riveting story, crying out to be told,” Sarah explained when we asked what her inspired her to write the show. “There are a lot of highs and lows

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Feminism has come a long way in recent years, and its expression through art remains one of its greatest outlets


theatre

and I’ll actually be using some of her own words. People will be shocked at how brutal life was without birth control.” Earlier this year, the University of Washington released results of what it believes is a “major step forward” for a male contraceptive pill. One hundred men took part in the trial with no major side effects. The pill, named DMAU, is still in development but has the potential for building the bridge between contraceptive duties. The combined oral contraceptive pill for women has been available for 68 years and is the most common form of contraception in the world today which Margaret Sanger fought to create. In Ireland, a referendum date of May 25th will see a vote for the renewed legislation for abortion. Only in 2013 a complete ban was lifted in extreme cases for the mother’s well-being. Ireland now faces months of campaigning, which will no doubt reach its height during the peak of The Fringe. If Ireland votes to repeal the law, the government has said it will introduce an abortion policy for women up to 12 weeks, regardless of intention.

And then there’s Trump. Donald J. The man feminists love to hate and for plausible reasons. In Trump’s America, abortion is hot on his presidential cards, as Trump opposes it. Women across all states live in fear of his presidency, with the likes of Rose McGown, Lady GaGa, Olivia Wilde, J.K Rowling, Lena Dunham and Jennifer Lawrence speaking out against the president. Feminism has come along way in recent years, and its expression through art remains one of its greatest outlets. Margaret Sanger believed in women. She believed in the enjoyment of sex without fear of falling pregnant, and it’s hard to argue with that. Without her, birth control may have taken much, much longer to break its stigma. And without Sarah, her story may be left artistically untold. The Women Who Conceived the Pill premieres 9.15pm on 4th May at Exeter Street Hall in partnership with Brass Tacks Theatre. It continues on 5th and 18th at 7.30pm and 19th at 9.15pm. By Nicola Morrison

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help! i think i might be fabulous Drag artistry continues to evolve, staying three steps ahead of any mainstream attempt of definition. Brighton’s original drag prince, Aflie Ordinary, is taking on any gender based assumptions you might be clinging on to, with his optimistic critique of social inequality. Sporting a platinum blonde bowl-cut and voluptuous lashes, Alfie Ordinary defies all name-related connotations. Introducing himself as the son-of-a-drag queen, Alfie revamps stereotypical notions of the drag industry and presents an entirely fresh concept. Blissfully unaware of stigmatised gender norms and roles, he overturns misleading assumptions that gay men embody hyper-feminised roles as queens. Unrivalled, a prince takes to the stage. Alfie Ordinary was born from Antony’s interest in clown and drag, which stemmed from his colourful history with performing. As a boy, Antony was a member of a children’s motorcycle display team. He spent winter weekends rehearsing displays of formation riding, stunts and tricks, and the summer weekends performing these around the country. At his peak, Antony performed to an audience of 15,000 people at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. “Looking back, I guess this helped me understand what it was to be a performer, the discipline of rehearsal and overcoming stage fright,” he said.

At college, Antony dipped into music. Acquiring the skill to play piano and guitar (albeit to a basic level), his regular appearance at an open mic night led him being granted a one hour show. The comedic flair which imbues Alfie’s persona transpired from such musical exploration: “I wrote a song about my favourite kebab shop dish called ‘Chips Salad Chilli Mayo’ and a song about nearly being run over by an elderly woman’s mobility scooter.” Growing up in the small city of Chichester, it seemed inevitable that Antony yearned the buzz and excitement of a larger place: “I was a creative boy and grew up with very little stimulation. I didn’t know it at the time but, as a young queer boy, I was lonely” he told me. Moving to Devon to study at Darlington College of Arts, Antony became inspired by clowning, the absurd, and minimalism. It wasn’t until after graduation that Antony discovered cabaret: “Suddenly everything seemed to click. I saw the way that music, performance and visual art was being combined into this spectacular show that appealed to my camp side that I’d been repressing since childhood.”


theatre Enrolling on a Masters course back in Chichester, Antony began experimenting with drag, wigs and make-up. Dividing time between writing his dissertation and working part-time selling vacuums, Antony consolidated the idea for Alfie Ordinary. “I studied hard and learnt a lot about vacuuming, as well as learning that both clowns and drag represented the fringes of society, an embodiment of ‘the other’. I wanted to make a character that existed in both clown and drag, but on the fringes of both.” He continued: “I wanted to play with the idea of identity, and so wondered what would happen if Alfie identified just as ‘fabulous.’ Fabulous of course then became a metaphor for gay, and I began telling my own coming out story with Alfie’s self discovery of being fabulous.” Over the years, Alfie’s journey has unequivocally taught valuable lessons on self-appreciation and acceptance. By far the most profound influence can be discovered in Antony’s own words: “Alfie has taught me more about myself than I thought. He’s brought me out of my shell, giving me confidence and teaching me that it’s OK to be whatever I am. It’s almost as if Alfie has become my own role model, reminding me to be honest, kind, fair and to be true to myself.”

Photo © Kate Pardey

Vowing to always wear sparkles, Alfie pays homage to the style of drag that British audiences know and love. What marks him as such a unique character is the very message he personifies: “Alfie exists in a utopian world, where him being fabulous (or gay) was nurtured and celebrated. If anything, Alfie is a

Alfie is a hopeful look into the future, into a world free from patriarchy, toxic masculinity and forced heteronormativity… like a queer Peter Pan

hopeful look into the future, into a world free from patriarchy, toxic masculinity and forced heteronormativity… like a queer Peter Pan.” This latent critique of social inequality is masterfully delivered through Alfie’s narrative. His song choices in particular are thematically engaging, often focusing on self-belief and feeing proud of oneself. Antony confessed that Whitney Houston’s ‘The Greatest Love’ is his favourite to perform: “Watch out for Whitney’s glitter soaked hair flips” he teased. The success of Antony’s performance can be measured by his award-winning status, which granted him the privilege to tour internationally. Inspired by new acts and audiences, this year’s show has succumbed to a little tweaking: “I was exhausted, but came back a stronger and more determined artist… it is the same story, just with some added bits and pieces.” At this year’s Brighton Fringe, Alfie Ordinary returns. Withstanding the gravitational pull of the stage, Antony expressed his enthusiasm for the festival: “It’s not about selling out shows, it’s about being part of a creative community. It’s a support network of artists, producers, dramaturgs, costume makers, writers, dancers, singers, lovers and family, and it’s all on your doorstep!” To catch a glimpse of his charismatic and fabulous self, Help! I think I Might Be Fabulous shows May 6th and 27th, 9.30pm at the Spiegeltent and 29th at 7.45pm. By Eloise Hanson

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The masses against th

confronting capitalism at br Political artists at The Fringe seem to be the only people having the conversation Britain most needs to have about privilege, class and supposed social mobility. Art and activism can be seen working together here, challenging not only the polarisation of society, but even the preconceived notions you had of yourself. It feels more difficult than ever to make sense of the class system in Britain. Modern life is alienated and atomised, ruled over by a shadowy political elite hopelessly removed from the concerns of the real world. Gentrification creeps into communities, robbing their original character and replacing them with exorbitant rents, poor doors and whatever makes a cup of coffee artisnal. Explicitly political art seems to have fallen through the cracks of the mainstream in this shitty zombie-capitalist dystopia. It’s much easier to pacify yourself with whatever glossy prestige drama is currently the talk of the internet, foisted on us by those without any skin in the game. But Brighton Fringe shows like Standard: Elite and Land of the Three Towers are determined to show

that discussions of class can be just as absorbing and provocative as whatever Netflix series you fruitlessly keep telling your friends to watch. “The theme of class has been an undercurrent in a lot of our work for a while,” said Standard: Elite artistic director Elliot Hughes. “This is the show where we decided to make things a little more overt. We wanted to show how easy it is to get suckered into the traps of privilege and entitlement, and how we all can be affected by each side of the coin.” Standard: Elite blends audience interaction, games and performance into a sharp critique of meritocracy. Members of the crowd can change the direction of the story, throw things at each other or watch


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s he classes

righton fringe

Photo Š Christina Hardinge

Explicitly political art seems to have fallen through the cracks of the mainstream in this shitty zombie-capitalist dystopia


Privilege isn't something that just happens to bad, rude, posh people. It is totally intrinsic in all of our lives

quietly - whatever feels most comfortable. Win a game of chance and you become a member of the elite, elevated to a level of power that you surely deserve - even if the competition involves being led through the mountains by a duck. “We want the show to address many forms of privilege,” Elliot added. “That includes race, gender, sexuality, disability - anything where one set of people have huge amounts of unspoken advantages. Privilege isn’t something that just happens to bad, rude, posh people. It is totally intrinsic in all of our lives. We want to show how anyone can be made to tribalise and create an enemy, while also just getting a big group of people to have a laugh together.” Featuring a lively mix of songs, comedy and puppetry, Land of the Three Towers confronts gentrification and social cleansing where the bitter unfairness of the British class system is most obvious – London. The show’s creators are involved with the Focus E15 campaign, which is led by a group of young mothers who fought Newham Council’s attempts to evict them from their homes. The council wanted to relocate their families outside of the city as far away as Birmingham and Manchester, all while social housing in the area stood boarded up. “We show in our play how people resist these practices of social cleansing,” said Land of the Three Towers organisers Emer, Nina and CJ. “We were part of the Focus E15 Occupation of empty flats on Carpenters Estate. The occupation was an amazing example of effective direct action. The individuals we have met along the way are inspiring and we believe these stories need to be heard by wider communities.” In March, the Focus E15 campaign celebrated the

deselection of Labour mayor Robin Wales, a figure whose aggressive regeneration of Newham loomed over the first volume of the show performed last year. The wider fight is far from over though – plans to fine and forcibly remove homeless people from Windsor before the royal wedding are a painful reminder of the oppressive tactics used by councils and governments to whitewash areas. “It’s fucking disgusting,” the play’s producers remarked. “The demonisation of rough sleepers is nothing new, however in times of stark austerity we see increased attacks on vulnerable people. It’s a war between narratives about what people are. The neoliberal capitalist agenda would have you believe that if you’re homeless – it’s your own fault. And we say f*ck them. And squat the lot.” The show features an all-female or non-binary cast - all of whom have experienced London’s housing crisis. Emer, Nina, CJ vow to continue representing disenfranchised people and speaking frankly to those in power. “Refusing to be invisible is what they don’t want you to do,” they said. “Activism takes many forms. We need an arsenal of tactics to tackle the hegemonic structures that propagate the agenda of the rich and powerful - and might we add heterosexual, cisgender and white. We believe, whoever is in power, even if we had Jeremy Corbyn or whoever - grassroots groups need to keep the pressure on the decision makers to push the experience of those at the bottom to the top of the agenda.” You can find this capitalist conquering theatre, Standard: Elite, at The Warren between the 8th and 10th of May at 9.45pm, or Land of Three Towers at Exeter Street Hall from May 9th til 12th at various starting times. By Ed Torrance


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Photo © Joanna Higson

Hardinge Photo © Christina

Photo © Joanna Higson


calendar

7pm Iris Prize

MAY 1

2

3

7pm Mixed Race White Bloke

3.45pm Land of Three Towers

4pm Land of Three Towers

7.45pm Standard: Elite

7.45pm Standard: Elite

7.45pm Standard: Elite

9

8

10

5.40pm The Invention of Lesbianism

5.40pm The Invention of Lesbianism

5.40pm The Invention of Lesbianism

6pm Brawn

6pm Brawn

6pm Brawn

8pm I am Somebody: Sirqus Alfron

8pm I am Somebody: Sirqus Alfron

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7pm Mixed Race White Bloke

7.45pm When the Wind Blows

7.45pm When the Wind Blows

7.45pm When the Wind Blows

8.30pm Stealth Aspies

8.30pm Stealth Aspies

8.30pm Stealth Aspies

9pm Baba Brinkman: Consciousness

9.30pm Arielle Souma: Souma Untitled

9.30pm Arielle Souma: Souma Untitled

9.30pm Arielle Souma: Souma Untitled

9.45pm Baba Brinkman: Darwinism

9pm Baba Brinkman: Consciousness

9.45 10 Steps to Happiness

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9.45 10 Steps to Happiness

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1pm Iris Prize

1pm Iris Prize

1pm Iris Prize

7pm Mixed Race White Bloke

10.30pm Love Letters to Rappers

10.30pm Love Letters to Rappers

9.45pm Baba Brinkman: Darwinism

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1pm Iris Prize

1pm Iris Prize

1pm Iris Prize

1pm Iris Prize

7.30pm Tales of the Mother Tongue

5pm The Ayahuasca Diaries

3pm Louise Reay: Eraserhead

5pm The Ayahuasca Diaries

9.15pm The Woman who Conceived the Pill

6pm I am Somebody: Sirqus Alfron

5pm The Ayahuasca Diaries

6pm I am Somebody: Sirqus Alfron

7pm Stephen Carlin

5.30pm Tales of the Mother Tongue

7pm Stephen Carlin

7.30pm The Woman who Conceived the Pill

6pm I am Somebody: Sirqus Alfron

7pm Mixed Race White Bloke

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5

6

7pm Stephen Carlin

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1pm Iris Prize

1.15pm Lolly Jones

5.40pm The Invention of Lesbianism

6.30pm Land of Three Towers

2pm Land of Three Towers

6pm Brawn

6.30pm Land of Three Towers

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12

13

14

1pm Iris Prize

2.30pm Lolly Jones

3pm Louise Reay: Eraserhead

7pm Mixed Race White Bloke

7.30pm The Woman who Conceived the Pill

9.15pm The Woman who Conceived the Pill

8.30pm Pussy Liquor presents Disco Pussy]'

7.15pm Baba Brinkman: Climate Chaos 9.15pm Baba Brinkman: Climate Chaos 9.45 10 Steps to Happiness

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1pm Iris Prize

1pm White Girls

1pm White Girls

1pm White Girls

7.45pm When the Wind Blows

5pm The Ayahuasca Diaries

5pm The Ayahuasca Diaries

5pm The Ayahuasca Diaries

9.45pm Baba Brinkman: Darwinism

7.45pm When the Wind Blows

8.30pm Stealth Aspies

7pm Mixed Race White Bloke

8.30pm Stealth Aspies

9.45pm Baba Brinkman: Darwinism

9.30pm Lolo Brow: Attention Seeker

9.45pm Baba Brinkman: Darwinism

25 1pm Iris Prize 7.45pm Bodymap: Glitta Supernova 9.15pm The Woman who Conceived the Pill

JUNE 1

9.45pm Baba Brinkman: Darwinism

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26 7.45pm Bodymap: Glitta Supernova

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7.30pm The Woman who Conceived the Pill

7.30pm The Woman who Conceived the Pill

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white

girls Demonstrating philanthropy might feed the traveller’s ego more than actually achieving the original purpose of helping


theatre

What is the true cost of the overseas volunteer experience? White Girls takes a satirical look at the uncomfortable reality of volunteer tourism, and how ‘helping out’ became its own form of exploitation. White Girls Leah and Eve hopped on a ferry to Calais to volunteer at The Jungle refugee camp for the weekend. Mascaras and highlighter shades were replaced with mud and dirt, and the weekend turned into ten months. They are white, privileged and beneficiaries of unearned advantages but they were also willing to help and support the migrants. Refugees mainly from Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan, have been gathering in Calais on their way to the UK for decades The Jungle camp was home to around 7,000 people two years ago. Fences topped with coils of razor wire and CCTV, gates guarded by heavily-armed French riot police were installed to prevent migrants from crossing the borders by jumping on Eurotunnel trains or lorries bound for ferries. Daily tasks included carrying buckets of water back and forth from the large tanks around the camp or sweeping out the dust from tents. But dust was the least of the problems - arson attacks and violent scenes caused by anti-migration groups and political parties were commonplace, too. Living under those circumstances is hard to imagine; volunteering likewise. White Girls travelled there with the purpose of broadening their scope of the civilised world. It’s a travel form now known as Voluntourism.

Voluntourism or Volunteer Tourism is about visiting new places, learning new cultures and experiencing new things along with making a difference in the place you visit and in the lives of the people you meet. The most common reasons for such travellers are usually the search for purpose in life and self-exploration. However, when they publish pictures and posts to social media, although on the one hand they may gather likes and followers, on the other, they may also treat the projects and locals like props. Demonstrating philanthropy might feed the traveller’s ego more than actually achieving the original purpose of helping. White Girls, tell the story as witnessed through their eyes, using comedy as a weapon to engage the audience and deliver their message more effectively. Despite the fact that the power of laughter and comedy is sometimes an underestimated form of art, through them a platform is created where serious issues can be exteriorised and explored. Instead of preaching, White Girls, make people laugh. Using comedy to create a stronger impact. You can catch it on May 26th, 27th and 28th at 1pm at The Warren. By Angeliki Avgeri

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theatre There are a lot of bad places to be, but I always maintain the worst place is in little bits. No matter how bad that hotel looks, it would be much worse if only your feet went on holiday there. This version of When The Wind Blows exists because right now, there are once again two people on opposite sides of the world plotting to ruin your holiday plans with big red buttons that destroy the hotel entirely and don’t give refunds. No amount of pre-booking can save you from a nuclear bomb.

there are once again two people on opposite sides of the world plotting to ruin your holiday plans with big red buttons that destroy the hotel entirely and don’t give refunds

This play focuses on two very similar people in a disturbingly familiar house. A retired couple forced to redecorate for a nuclear attack, desperately following the nonsense of a manilla pamphlet out of fear of what may happen to them if they don’t. It’s based on a Raymond Briggs graphic novel from the 1980s, but it will always be relevant as a nuclear war will always be the last one where we have comic books to theorise about it. Its central theme is “what about this time?” The elderly couple remember the Second World War with rose-tinted glasses, and at the beginning, expect everything will turn out okay due to their misunderstanding of a world that’s outpaced them. Their belief in “the scientific methods” of modern war leads them to think it’ll all be over by tea-time tomorrow, and so that bread and butter pudding will keep in the fridge until the nuclear war’s subsided. As things progress, they must put their knowledge and preparation and leaflets to the test. The audience is invited to unravel what they’re saying, to challenge their worldviews and reasoning and above all, naivety. The great “something” outside the door is a mystery, and figuring out what it could be is a task for both the characters and the audience. The lack of certainty but abundance of hints and possibilities is one of the most chilling aspects. To see this as a play is a whole new experience. In such a restrained format, the unfathomable mystery of the “something” becomes even more existential. Being locked into a stage makes the outside world even less tangible, but the inside even more so. The differences between the characters and the audience can become even more pronounced when you’re seeing what they’re seeing. These ways can be both distinct and eerily familiar, even reminiscent of your grandparents. They cling onto suburban comforts as far as they can simply because they can’t grapple with the idea of the “something”. How well would your grandparents would cope with the idea of nuclear devastation? How would they be able to cope with the idea that their annual trip to Eastbourne is cancelled because it simply isn’t there anymore? You can see the production from the 22nd till 25th May at 7.45pm, Brighton Little Theatre. By Luke Williams

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sculpting th It has been etched into the fabric of our societies that a strong muscular physique is the epitome of masculinity. Brawn explores the psychological and physical impacts of body dysmorphia in men, and we explore why this piece of theatre is so important to body positivity. The controversial and frequently misinterpreted body positivity movement sees feminists fight back against the unreachable and dangerous standards which the patriarchal media holds women to. But this movement is key to the liberation of both men and women from the shackles of body image. To delve into a brief history of male representation in the media; since the ancient Athenians first began to carve deities from marble, we have been unable to shake that image of godlike masculinity. The middle and medieval ages built legends of hyper macho knights to fill their imposing new castles; and during the renaissance, Michelangelo dreamt up his powerful David. While less than twenty yards away, Cellini’s Perseus flaunts his virility to David with his own supreme physique - and the head of a Gorgon. Both surpass the normal human form in such a way only heavy layers of stone can keep them from flexing their way to freedom. Even the Enlightenment failed to think through a new normal image of masculinity. Instead we find an era of dashing heroes and gentleman explorers. Manly men who climb Everest and tackle the Antarctic. Over the years, these supermen men soon became Superman. As the twentieth century dawns, pop culture gives the world comic book heroes and GI Joe. The result of this? Brazen beefcakes polluted by toxic masculinity who attempt to enhance their ever shrinking egos with a growing epidemic of IPED (Image and Performance Enhancing Drug) abuse. With screens in hand we can obsess over falsities with our thumbs. We are force fed a diet of unsustainable perfection that even the most cynical find hard not to buy into. Mythical heroes have now

been replaced with the instantly accessible idol. They say you can look just like them. But you can’t. Brawn, written by and staring Christopher Walton, opens a portal to the ‘fictional’ world of his character Ryan. Step into an age where self-worth is measured in muscle mass and where self-improvement becomes self-destruction. Men’s Health magazines litter the stage upon which a sweat drenched Ryan exercises himself into narcissistic isolation, an apt symbol of the encroaching and inescapable influence of the media. The play touches on the topic of body dysmorphia, a condition often developed in adolescence and inflicted by trauma such as bullying. As Ryan struggles to reach this godlike perfection he neglects everything else- his aspirations wasting away as his muscles grow, losing himself in his own distorted reflection. Stepping out of Christopher Walton’s portal, what similarities does his world show to ours? A damage indicator of the pursuit of pectorals is the use of steroids. Boys as young as 13 are reported to use IPEDs, which mimic effects of testosterone and boost muscle growth. Once a drug exclusive to athletes and bodybuilders, steroids are now common and crucial in achieving the ultimate male aesthetic. The estimated 1 million UK users acquire IPEDs from underground laboratories or the internet; shipped from countries without restriction. The growth of demand leads to increased supply as drug dealers begin to branch into the sale of steroids. While police report an increase in illegal UK steroid laboratories which produce dangerous unmonitored products which do not follow medically approved safety testing rules.


theatre

he man With screens in hand we can obsess over falsities with our thumbs. We are force fed a diet of unsustainable perfection that even the most cynical find hard not to buy into. Men’s Health magazines litter the stage upon which a sweat drenched Ryan exercises himself into narcissistic isolation, an apt symbol of the encroaching and inescapable influence of the media.

Side effects of steroids include impacts on the brain such as depression, mood swings and longterm cognitive damage as well as physical strain on the heart. But most shockingly the use of needles increases the prevalence of HIV in steroid users to the same of that of heroin users, as well as increasing the risk of hepatitis B and C. In some cases lads swap debauchery and drinking for evenings training at the gym and consider themselves to be living a wholesome and healthy lifestyle. Gym addicts and drug users may seem worlds apart but perhaps it’s not only needle banks they share as both display symptoms of filling an internal void caused by a problematic society. A report by the Public Health Institute says that more than half of respondents use IPEDs to develop their body image or for cosmetic purposes. Social media not only fuels the fire of this desire for a ripped aesthetic but provides one of the communication tools necessary for the dealing of these substances. So when will we reassess our ideas of beauty and finally ask the media to take responsibility for the standards they demand and present to the public? Theatre like Brawn opens up an over-due dialogue about male and female body image and what we consider beautiful. Time to wake up and question the images that we scroll past and standards we hold ourselves too. You can catch an eye full of Brawn at The Warren on the 14th to 17th May at 6pm. By Andrew Stewart and Jessica Rings

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Oh to be

Happy

Photo Š Benji Waterstones

The ayahuasca diaries & 10 steps to happiness

I've just always been a glass-half-full-of-poison kind of guy


theatre and comedy

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Photo © Yvette Saunders

A slow but steady shift seems to be happening in the way we talk about mental health in our day-to-day lives. Two distinct shows confront the struggle and self-doubt we face when chasing that ultimate goal - happiness. After finishing my degree five years ago, I left Brighton with little more than anxiety issues, and an unread copy of Mr Nice. Up until that point in my life, targets and deadlines had largely been dictated to me and yet suddenly I was in a world without regulation. For whatever reason, my mindset had changed, no longer was I enjoying the moment for what it was. The blissful ignorance I’d experienced during my teenage years had well and truly subsided. Happiness had become consistently just out of reach, thus beginning an arduous journey of uncertainty, a craving for validation, and a belief that my next step might just lead to happiness.

the end of secondary school. Her award-winning show 10 steps to Happiness returns to The Warren for its second year at The Fringe. The show, winner of The Pebble Trust Award, runner-up Audience Choice Award and nominated for Best Comedy by International Youth Arts Festival, is an honest, funny and heart-warming look at a young lady, whose struggle to find happiness in the world led to her picking apart a self-help google search. She says, “I wanted to put my experience of trying to be happy in my life, on stage in front of people”.

Sound familiar? Obviously, I’m not the only one. The charity Mind suggests that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health difficulty, such as depression and anxiety, each year. So why do so many of us struggle to find happiness? I managed to catch up with two comedy performers from The Brighton Fringe, whose quests for happiness have shaped their shows.

Yvette is no stranger to breaking down the stigmas of mental health. Daughter to a counsellor, her openness is refreshing. Yvette admits she finds both the creative process and public performance cathartic in equal measure. “Performing makes me happy, along with being creative and being able to talk about these sorts of things,” says Yvette. “I really enjoy being able to create shows that are about human experience and making genuine connections with audiences. I can’t wait to get on stage.”

“I didn’t want to go to the doctors, I didn’t want to talk about it. You don’t see a way out.” Yvette May of Happenings Theatre Company was first diagnosed with depression at 15 when coming to

For others, a more extreme approach to enlightenment is necessary. Psychiatrist/comedian/self-help junkie Benji Waterstones follows in Freud’s footsteps of self-experimentation for his comedy show,


Perhaps the uplifting experience of performing can be equally cathartic for an audience, knowledge that its ok to feel the way we feel


theatre and comedy The Ayahuasca Diaries. The potent Ayahuasca brew has been used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of South America, a traditional spiritual medicine believed to offer enlightenment. “People talk about Ayahuasca in sensationalised terms. I was once told it’s ‘a magic pill where just one dose is as strong as 15 years of therapy’. As a psychiatrist who hears patients complaining about their Western medicines I wanted to see if the hype could be believed,” says Benji. His Peruvian trip was far from recreational - “Unless you get your kicks out of reliving painful childhood traumas whilst puking your guts up for 12 hours,” he says. Benji admits his career choice of psychiatry was partially dictated by the idea of discovering what he describes as “the secret codes for happiness”. “I’ve just always been a glass-half-full-of-poison kind of guy, like lots of people, though I know the problem is my outlook because my life on paper isn’t bad.” It’s an important point to look at. Yvette feels the same way. She says, “Everything in my life on paper seemed fine, I felt I was taking up a counsellor’s time when there are people out there who have awful past experiences.” It is suggestive of a trend of experiencing guilt when feeling unhappy, something that surely needs addressing. We should never feel guilt like this, there will always be people with perceived worse problems, but it’s important that we give our own problems their own space, time and recognition. Yvette believes that to enjoy the good, we have to learn to embrace the bad times- “Happiness is about genuinely living in the present, enjoying the waves, the good moments when they come and, when the bad times come, surround yourself with good people.” Social media surely has a lot to answer for. It creates a constant longing for acceptance and

validity; attempting to document an existence we know isn’t sustainable. Or perhaps the windows to our lives are now just wider than those of previous generations. “It’s hard to say if millennials are more unhappy than previous generations. We’re partly just better at talking about it as stigma dissolves,” says Benji. It’s impossible to provide a definite answer on the subject. Benji’s advice to his patients for “regular exercise, enough sleep, healthy diet, limiting drugs, booze and social media, spending quality time with loved ones, doing enjoyable activities”, seems as good as any. Perhaps it is part of human nature that leaves us feeling unsatisfied, “It keeps us competitive in evolutionary terms,” he says. Perhaps unbeknown to both performers, by producing such shows, they are both doing their bit to further open up what was once a fairly taboo subject. Perhaps the uplifting experience of performing can be equally cathartic for an audience as it provides knowledge that it’s ok to feel the way we feel. And so to the million dollar question, does Ayahuasca work? “Ha, you’ll have to come and see the show,” says Benji. Talk to someone if you’re not feeling ok, you can seek advice and help from the following places. The Samaritans: 116 12 MindInfoline: 0300 123 3393 You can see The Ayahuasca Diaries at The Laughing Horse on the 5th, 6th, 7th and 26th of May at 5pm. For 10 Steps to Happiness head to The Warren on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd May at 9.45pm. By Chris Phillips

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LoVe letters to rappers Staking their claim to an industry dominated by men, The Ugly Girls Club have made rap the means to confront both misogyny and the meat industry. With a satirical presentation of the prominent social issues of our time, expect to be confronted by a truly relatable modern feminist experience. After forming in 2016, The Ugly Girls Club will be storming the stage with their punchy feminist piece to educate you on gender politics in the music industry. First intended as a book of poetry, Love Letters to Rappers progressed into a show for The Brighton Fringe this year. This show interlaces a modern-day critique on misogyny in rap music alongside the truth of the meat production industry. Their comedy performance has been curated to confront the underrepresentation of women in a post-Weinstein political climate. Founder of The Ugly Girls Club, Hillary Rock-Archer, explains how a bad haircut led to the

formation of the collective in 2016. She says, “How could I perceive myself as ugly and still provide value in a world where ugly women are constantly devalued?” This moment catalysed some of the fundamental beliefs of the group: to challenge beauty ideals decided by the existing patriarchal society. Hillary’s work with Brighton Fringe last year inspired her and seven other writers, performers and choir members to take part in this year’s festival through a performance piece. Although feminism is a serious issue in this social climate, the collective decided to present Love Letters to Rappers as a comedic show. It is important to the group that the show humanises what can be a


comedy

heavy subject so it can be discussed in everyday conversations. Hillary says, “The current feminist narrative can be very hard work - as it should be for the issue at hand (the patriarchy), but we like to offer commentary in a more playful, relatable and hopefully engaging way.” After watching a few pinnacle documentaries about meat production, it hit home for Hillary that meat consumption was more than an ethical animal rights dilemma. Hillary says, “Although it doesn’t get a huge mention in the final version of the show, I think meat consumption is a political issue and needs to be treated like one.” Since learning about the meat industry’s contribution to global warming, The Ugly Girls Club demonstrate their passion for other underrepresented societal issues. The show uses the vehicle of rap music to convey the collective’s feminist agenda. Hillary highlights how this includes targeting meat consumption as a political issue, calling out the gender pay gap across all industries (including music) and even we as

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intersectional feminists who love to booty pop to songs with problematic lyrics forget internalised flaws. She says, “Love Letters to Rappers is a flawed, mind-f*ck of a show. It’s imperfect, problematic and kind of ugly but it’s doing its best to offer what it can to a wider conversation. I think the piece is quite honest about its flaws, including its all-white cast and its angry feminist tone.” Including elements of non-sexualised nudity, the performances encourage the manifesto urging women to accept their imperfections and continue in a happy, self-appreciating existence. The show invites feminists of all ages to fight against society’s oppressors and to look at the way we perceive ourselves. Appearing at the Caxton Arms Pub on the 30th and 31st May, you can see Love Letters To Rappers at 10.30pm on both nights. By Louisa Streeting

How could I perceive myself as ugly and still provide value in a world where ugly women are constantly devalued?


the invention lesbianism Sexual and romantic desire between two women. Historically, mentions of lesbianism are lacking compared to male homosexuality. This extends from Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and early Christianity, to the Medieval and later 20th and early 21st centuries. Cerys Bradley is coming to Brighton to put times together and present The Invention of Lesbianism, a journey through the ages along with the evolution of language and how it has been weaponised, both, by and against the LGBTQ+ community. Cerys is part-time comedian and full-time gay. She is also a PhD student in cyber crime. Three attributes when brought together give rise to a unique personality and a new approach to comedy. As a researcher, Cerys is introducing academia to art. Her performances bear the mark of deep thought, however, they are brought to their audience through a funny, sarcastic and interactive show. Cerys has one hour to prove to you that academics can be funny too. They can make you laugh, and if you don’t... well, there’s something wrong, because they have science on their side. Apart from being a student at UCL’s Crime and Security Department, Cerys graduated with a BSc in Mathematics, an MRes in Crime and Security Science and has an interest in the trade-off between collective security and individual privacy.

Her research focuses on cyber crime and more specifically on dark net markets and what contributes to making them successful. Alongside her research, Cerys teaches debating and information to school children, science communication to university students, and how to use the rule of three to readers of her blog. For Cerys, 2018 has so far been busy with performances around the country, ranging from Bristol to different venues around London and last but not least Brighton. She will be at The Fringe for six days, performing once a day, warming up the crowd, interacting with the audience and setting herself free in the fun of the moment. Speaking her mind from start to finish and not being afraid to provoke thoughts and questioning regarding the norms of today, language is her tool and her focus. If you are interested in an alternative kind of academic comedy, then be sure not to miss this opportunity to experience Cerys up-close and personal, to learn about the evolution of language and the ways it has been used as a weapon by various groups over time. You can see The Invention of Lesbianism at Sweet Werks 2 from the 14th till 20th of May at 5.40pm. By Sotiris Ilkos


comedy

of Her performances bear the mark of deep thought, however, they are brought to their audience through a funny, sarcastic and interactive show. Cerys has one hour to prove to you that academics can be funny too. They can make you laugh, and if you don't... well, there's something wrong, because they have science on their side

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a finger to silenc The continued debate over the comedic capacity of women, is testament to the institutional sexism that remains at the heart of Britain’s stand-up and panel shows. Come take a look at some of the female comics coming to The Fringe this year, who despite any extra challenges, are still finding the funny. The notion of the woman being ‘incapable’ of doing or being certain things is repeated nonsense that is systematically proved as such by every woman, much to her infuriation. This is especially pushed when women are in the public eye, and significantly, when heard on stage. When John Lennon said of the Liver Birds, ‘Girls with guitars? Bet that never works out’, he became one of many to dismiss women’s ability to contribute to popular culture. Needless to say that sentiment would make no sense if uttered now – but what about the case with female comedians? There is one statement regarding women’s competence as entertainers that still makes its rounds in many pubs and uncomfortable family gatherings - ‘Women just aren’t funny’. Of course, half the population are solemn, humourless flesh vessels that shuffle from one human interaction to the next without the ability to tell even a terrible pun. Why

do groups of female friends laugh together? Must be hysteria. As many frequenters of The Brighton Fringe know, female performers take to the stage to push boundaries and stick it to the confines of delicate and reserved ideas of femininity. One such trailblazing act performing at this year’s festival is Lolly Jones. Known for her contributions to Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe series, Lolly Jones is a comedian who takes the punk ethos in her stride. She is a modern burlesque performer and stand-up comic whose main target is conservative neo-liberalism and the politicians who preserve it. Her upcoming show, Fifty Shades of May, takes aim at our prime minister and other fellow Tory politicians, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and


comedy

Boris Johnson by mixing a blend of character comedy and burlesque to parody our divisive politicians. With many leaders on the world stage appearing so ridiculous and exaggerated, how does Lolly manage to parody them so successfully? “It’s forced me to find a more interesting way of satirising politicians. I lip synch Theresa May’s speeches in a heightened burlesque form. Her clown-like expressions are a gift from the comedy gods. I feel like I’m stealing (…) because I’m replicating so much of what she actually does.” “And stealing from a Tory is fun.” Avoiding political debate over the past few years has become gradually tougher for many and not just because it seems our leaders appear to be caricatures and not-normal human beings. For artists and comedians, the threat of war, growing

Photo © Arielle Souma

r up ce

inequality and global instability can be a goldmine of inspiration. Comedy is often censored and monitored by despots and insecure government officials the world over. The power of comedic expression to encourage audiences to challenge the austere authority of our suited overlords, makes it a perfect vehicle for change, consciously or not. Jones sees the main duties of being a comedian as being ‘funny and truthful’ yet, she claims, “It’s impossible to ignore the seismic shifts in politics over the last few years.’’ Her show is an inevitable side effect. Whilst most of us gain material for our Tory MP impressions from news broadcasts, Lolly Jones has more insight from her former job: pouring pints in parliament’s bar. “I was fascinated by that world,” Jones says, and cites it as an important source of inspiration for her brand of comedy.

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After recent scandals and investigations of the ‘gentleman’s club’ culture in Westminster, it’s straightforward to see how Jones’ up-close view of parliament culture would make a show ridiculing said MPs hard to resist. But Jones’ main concern is less about inciting change, she says, “But more about revealing the idiocies behind the government and the decisions being taken in our name.” Lolly Jones is one of many female comedians on the circuit with fearlessness, originality and wit rarely seen by audiences. Yet the faces of these comics still struggle to be seen on television. Perhaps because of the tired old myth of women’s inability to produce laughs – but surely the BBC can’t still be perpetuating that? “It’s 2018 and shows such as Would I Lie to You think it’s OK to have one woman to six males,” Jones laments. She says, “The BBC should know better. Have they learned nothing from being exposed in the gender pay gap scandal?” It seems that female comedians are still being silenced, and it’s not just by comedy programme commissioners.

Photo © Lolly Jones

Louise Reay is an experienced comedian coming to The Fringe this May with a whole show dedicated to a recent legal challenge she is facing as a result of her comedy.

In early January this year, a legal team informed Reay that her former husband had begun legal proceedings against her. The content of her 2017 Edinburgh Fringe show, Hard Mode, was deemed by him to be defamatory and a breach of privacy. A fundraising page was set up to raise legal fees for Reay, which, at the time of publication, has raised £11,000. This news shocked and bemused fellow comedians, as it appeared to be an attack on the art of comedy itself and signalled a new struggle against censorship. Although busy performing at the Adelaide Fringe in Australia earlier this year, Reay agreed to speak to me about her ordeal, “The support for my case has been absolutely extraordinary, both from the public so generously donating to my crowdfunder and from fellow comics coming together to put on a benefit gig.” Reay arrived at the Adelaide Fringe hoping to present the show she had prepared to put on tour for six months, only to be advised by her lawyers to scrap it. As a result, Reay was obliged to write her new show, Eraserhead, in just 48 hours, which she recalls as being “extremely, extremely difficult”. “However, having no choice in the matter helped,” she says. “There was no way I could just cancel all my shows


comedy

for the forthcoming six months. Extreme life events lead to strong emotions and big ideas – all helpful for writing shows in the middle of the night!” The poster for Eraserhead depicts Reay as Jack Nance’s character from the absurd cult film from 1977. However, the show is not just a parody or hat-tip to the great master of the surreal David Lynch, but a piece highlighting the slow disintegration of Reay’s identity as she was pursued by legal recourse. “I love Eraserhead and the themes really made sense to me for this show,” she says. In particular this made sense to Reay as she said her world felt like it was turning upside down. She says, “Also I feel like being censored makes you feel like your identity has been erased.” For residents in a city like Brighton – with all of its progressiveness and spaces for freedom of expression – it can be easy to forget how an ordeal like Reay’s can come about. But despite her setbacks, Reay has steamed forward with a thought provoking and hilarious triumph of a show that is guaranteed not to be watered down.

Photo © Louise Reay

Along with Reay and Jones, there are plenty of cutting-edge female comedians to enjoy at this year’s Fringe. Highlights include Arielle Souma,

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a South London based comedian described by Frankie Boyle as ‘just what the comedy industry needs’ brings an edgy and outspoken show, Souma Untitled, that is empowering, as it is raucously funny. Another to look forward to is Cerys Bradley’s The Invention of Lesbianism (read about this on page 35), a one-hour solo performance on the history of lesbianism, using humour to embolden and enlighten audiences on LGBTQ culture. With all these innovative and outspoken female comedians at this year’s festival, one thing is for sure: they will be seen, they will be heard and they will be downright magnificent. You can see Lolly Jones’ free show Fifty Shades of May at The Laughing Horse, Temple Bar on the 12th May at 1.45pm and 19th May at 2.30pm. Catch Eraserhead by Louise Reay on the 6th and 20th May at 3pm at Komedia Studio. Lastly don’t miss Arielle Souma’s Souma Untitled at Junkyard Dogs on the 22nd to 24th May at 9.30pm. By Emily Cross


mixed race white bloke


comedy

Returning to The Fringe for his second year in a row, Brighton is set for the comedian Francis Foster, better known as the Mixed Race White Bloke. Hailing from South London with parental roots in Venezuela and Wigan, Foster will be taking to the stage throughout May to speak to the audience about his peculiar life as a Latino who looks and sounds a lot more like your average white British male from Croydon. People who come to see him perform can expect a hilariously self-deprecating comedy gig from a man who’s struggling to reconcile himself with the concept of his own identity. Foster has built quite a name for himself on the comedy circuit since he began performing in 2012.

On stage he switches from being a streetwise, tough talking Latino character to a stammering, overly-polite Brit as if he were Dr Jekyll transitioning to Mr Hyde

He came third in the New Act of the Year Show in 2015 and since then has supported big names such as Eddie Izzard and Dane Baptiste, as well as performing his own shows across the country. He’s also managed to balance his impressive portfolio of comedy work with his other job as a part-time teacher which, in his words, keeps him “grounded in reality”. He even says there are similarities between the two professions, observing that both jobs are essentially based on performing and that most of the time “you’re just shouting at people who are waiting for their breaks so that they can chat to their mates”. The show itself is likely to be packed with witty anecdotes about the life of Foster, vocalised through his Mixed Race White Bloke persona. On stage he switches from being a streetwise, tough talking Latino character to a stammering, overly-polite Brit as if he were Dr Jekyll transitioning to Mr Hyde. These concepts of duality and cultural identity are essentially the crux of Foster’s sets and the Mixed Race White Bloke character addresses them in a uniquely comical fashion, combining scathing societal observations with slapstick humour. Counting observational comedy legends Chris Rock and the late Bill Hicks among his inspirations, Francis believes his own style has ended up being a lot less confrontational and more accessible. His sketch reflects this take as much of it involves making himself the butt of his own jokes, in an ironically time-honoured British fashion. This is not to say that everyone else gets off too lightly. As a teacher and a comedian, Foster is better equipped than most to give a commentary on the youth of today’s behaviour and you can expect him to provide a number of rib-tickling anecdotes about his career in education. Those who have seen him before can expect more of his witty observations and absurd scenarios, whilst newcomers should be prepared for a unique take on British society, through the eyes of Foster’s zany character. Francis Foster will be performing at the Duke of Wellington pub on Gloucester Road from 7pm on 7th, 8th, 21st and 22nd May. By Oscar Djama Tuckett

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making the inv Two acts compromised entirely of adults on the autistic spectrum will take to The Fringe this year, as part of a series of events to increase awareness of accessibility. Autism blogger Lydia Wilkins explores initiating change by highlighting the wider lack of understanding when it comes to invisible disabilities, performances from the Stealth Aspies and Stephen Carlin are set to make history. For the first time Brighton Fringe has launched The Freedom Season, a programme of events designed to be accessible to a range of audiences with varying access needs, including invisible disabilities, such as autism. The programme will be based around The Fringe’s most accessible venues. Two acts of entirely autistic people will be performing a series of shows. Firstly, Stealth Aspies: Autistic People Speak Out - quoted as being “the world’s first performance collective entirely run by autistic adults”. The group consists of four adults exploring the theme of being listened to as an autistic individual. They will be performing a spoken word set designed to reflect upon the experiences of the autistic community. Secondly, Stephen Carlin, an autistic person himself, will be returning to Brighton with a comedy performance, Rise of the Autistic. According to The National Autistic Society, autism is a lifelong disability affecting how a person communicates, how they relate to other people as well as the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, meaning it affects people in varying ways. Hallmarks include stimming, special interests, being literal, and struggling socially. To be clear, I am describing myself partly in that last sentence. I was diagnosed as being on spectrum in January 2015. I decided to find out more about the Freedom Season, and these two autism-themed acts. Paul Wady, who formed Stealth Aspies, was 41 when diagnosed with autism. He has previous experience of performing with a show called Guerrilla Aspies. He has also written a book of the same name. We exchange questions via email, his replies are sprinkled with elements of dry humour. The first show, Wady says, will be drawn from responses to a Twitter survey (@Stealth Aspies), which anyone can contribute to, allowing the group to “workshop them through discussion whenever we can.”

Stealth Aspies will also be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Wady says, “We have visited the Arts Council and they say, get shows together, book venues and then we can give you cash to do more. So the ball is rolling now. If you would like to see us - give us a venue. Anywhere.” And why is raising awareness of autism important to Wady? He says, “Because all of us were late diagnosis people and know what it is like to not know what you are. We love telling the truth and trying to empower our community. We, all of us, have empathy as a kind and a race and can maintain long term, stable relationships. How is that suffering from a disorder? Sounds more like a human nature to me.” Another member of Stealth Aspies, Sarah Saeed agrees; she is a passionate advocate for the autistic community with a background in acting. She answers all of my questions intelligently and at length, when we meet in a Brighton Bar. When asked about awareness vs acceptance of the autistic community, she says, “I think awareness is important, but I think without acceptance it’s pretty pointless to be honest.” She said people who are on spectrum, alongside awareness of their condition, also need respect, appreciation, and non judgement. We also talk about the launch of the Freedom Season. Saeed says,“I think it’s great because I’m pretty sure it’s the first time they’ve done it.” She said she would like to see how people respond to the new programme of events. Saeed also shares a memory with me, which illustrates why performing as part of Stealth Aspies is important to her. A woman and her daughter had been watching her whilst performing and they went to talk to her after the performance. For the duration, the daughter who had been diagnosed with autism had been nodding along, identifying with what was being said. This illustrates why


spoken word and comedy

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visible visible performing as part of Stealth Aspies, and therefore creating better understanding of autism, is important to Sarah. Dan Jones, an autistic author of Look Into My Eyes, his autobiography, says, ”I think it’s great for Brighton Fringe to have autistic acts performing. It helps to raise awareness of the range of skills, abilities and diversity of autistic individuals, that there is more to us than just a label and we can have an interesting perspective on the World.” Hillary Rock-Archer, producer for the Brighton Fringe Freedom Season says, “From the early planning stages of the Freedom Season, we found it was extremely important to specifically include invisible disabilities, such as autism, to help challenge the stigma attached to disabilities. By including this type of disability we also aim to create a specific awareness of the needs of both audience members and participants with invisible disabilities. We aim to celebrate the creative ability of disabled people through increasing awareness and opportunities to participate, create and attend the arts.” And what is Wady’s advice, for people on spectrum, who may be watching a Fringe performance? “Bring a baseball cap and ear protectors just in case. Take care of yourself in the event of sudden stimuli but otherwise BE BRAVE AND FACE THINGS YOU WOULD USUALLY AVOID. Which is how I’ve always treated every day.”

to raise awareness of the range of skills, abilities and diversity of autistic individuals, that there is more to us than just a label and we can have an interesting perspective on the World

To find out more about The Freedom Season, visit https://www.brightonfringe.org/news-updates/ freedom-season-news/.

Stealth Aspies perform will be performing from 22nd to 27th May at 8.30pm at Sweet Werks 2. Stephen Carlin performs the 5th to 7th May at 7pm at The Broadway Lounge. By Lydia Wilkins

Photo © Alex Lowenstein

For more information about autism, visit http://www. autism.org.uk.


baba brinkma Changing minds through metaphor and music, Baba Brinkman has found a way to make educational hip-hop music appeal to the masses. With a focus on ideas, evolution and the chaos of humanity, this is the future of scientific spoken word.

Baba Brinkman is admittedly no gangster. He lacks the style, the face tattoos and the cars. But his flow, inspired by late-90s hip-hop, his absolute charisma and sense of humour makes up for all of that. Growing up in a log cabin in a remote community in Canada, Baba’s parents probably did not think he would become a rap artist. Having personally planted one million trees helping with his father’s business, Baba’s first rap was about trees. It does not get less gangster than that. Yet here he is, at the age of 39, writing the only peer-reviewed rap, educational hip-hop music, for more than a decade. Because what is there for man to do if he has a literary degree, incredible rap skills, knowledge of 90s hip-hop AND good connections with professors?

For his second time at Brighton Fringe, Baba is presenting three different science rap shows. Rap Guide to Darwinism explores evolution starting with DNA yet somehow he manages to find his way to internet memes. Brilliant. Rap Guide to Climate Chaos breaks down climate change in a show that is informative even to those who are no strangers to this topic. Baba explains the history of climate change and talks about the people who knew about the catastrophic effects of rising emissions decades ago. Even the pope gets his fair share of jokes in this science rap that is steeped in comedy. Rap Guide to Consciousness was premiered at last year’s Fringe. This show explores human consciousness; how do neurons in the brain talk to each other, and what exactly is a Jennifer Aniston neuron that we all apparently have?

The result is extraordinary, and what at first might seem like a cringey attempt to get the kids interested in education, is so much more than that. Baba explains his constant enthusiasm: “I get excited by these ideas and what they mean, and if I can get the crowd excited with me, that’s a way to open minds and entertain people at the same time.”

All this Baba does with a great deal of humour, charisma and an Eminem-like use of multi-syllable rhyme schemes which is perfect for the generation that has been mesmerised by TEDx Talks and inspirational speakers. This is exactly what the Rap Guides deliver; accurate, information on topical issues, delivered in a neat package without being

if I can get the crowd excited with me, that’s a way to open minds and entertain people at the same time


spoken word

an patronising or boring. Baba does this expertly without sounding like a middle-school teacher trying to be cool. Rap is not a conventional way of educating people, but Baba says: “I’ve come to believe that the stories revealed by science are among the most fascinating and consequential you could ask for, and rap is a powerful way to tell those stories.” He is not wrong. His Rap Guides have been successful and won the Fringe First Award in Edinburgh, held an off-Broadway theatre run in New York City, and won a variety of other awards. Not to mention annoying some creationists on the side with his Rap Guide to Evolution. Baba has joined forces with top scholars and experts around the country who check every show for scientific accuracy. Even though the Rap Guides are educational, Baba emphasises that his shows must be entertaining first and informative second. “I write shows that entertain crowds and sell tickets off-Broadway and at festivals going head to head with comics telling dick jokes,” Baba explains. Of course, any lecture, documentary or a rap show

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Because what is there for man to do if he has a literary degree, incredible rap skills, knowledge on 90s hip-hop AND good connections with professors?

cannot give a full image of the complicated issues Baba is shedding light on. But if it can get the audience inspired and leaves them wanting to learn more, it has been a success. In order to do so, entertainment and humour are crucial. “If I don’t get the crowd into it, there’s no point in trying to be deep or complicated,” he says. If you enjoy a quiet lecture theatre, are not too keen on audience participation and think rappers are a bunch of thugs, you should definitely come see this show and be prepared to have your opinions changed. Baba Brinkman’s ‘entertainment first’ approach to education is remarkable in its simplicity and enjoyability. He invites everyone to come and see the shows - “if you’re ready to have your mind blown”. Whatever your reason for coming -- Rap Guides will leave your brain buzzing. See Dawnism on the 24th-27th at 9.45pm at the Warren, Consciousness at Latest Music Bar on the 22nd and 23rd at 9pm and Climate Chaos on the 21st at 7.15pm and 9.15pm at Komedia Studios. By Saara-Maria Salonen

Photo © Dawn Brinkman


the iris prize


film

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The Iris Prize is a celebration of LGBT+ culture, giving a platform to the most highly regarded short films to emerge from the community. The winner of the prize, along with a selection of esteemed submissions will be shown at The Warren throughout The Fringe For years, Brighton has been regarded as a beacon of creativity and a place where LGBT+ artists have depicted their experiences of sexuality through art, film and music. For this year’s Fringe, celebrated LGBT+ filmmakers from across Europe will have their work showcased in the country’s most ‘out and proud’ city. Established in 2007, the Iris Prize is the most prestigious LGBT+ short film prize in the world. The award itself is judged by internationally renowned artists and filmmakers and is chosen through the screening of hundreds of short films over the course of a four-day festival. This May, the winning film from last year’s festival, and a plethora of other short films with deserved accolades, will be screened at The Warren over four weeks.

Cantwell captures the anguish of the titular character beautifully as a misunderstanding between her and the striking young girl Violet leads to a violent attack. Eté won the Highly Commended Award for British film; an aesthetically arresting short set in the Herefordshire countryside. The juxtaposition of a jaunty French rock soundtrack with traditional English farming landscapes encapsulates the excitement and bewilderment of attraction felt by a young sheep rearer towards his colleague. The last in the list of films to be shown is the Best British Short. Directed by Dionne Edwards, We Love Moses visually explores a young black girl’s intrigue and past sexual encounters as she observes her desires towards her brother’s friend Moses and director Edwards holds no reservation.

The Swedish short Mother Knows Best nabbed the esteemed Iris Prize and is one that simply cannot be missed. The film follows a young gay man and his relationship with his parents as he introduces his new boyfriend to the family. A gorgeously shot film with stellar performances and a poetically touching screenplay, Mother Knows Best recounts on screen a common milestone in the lives of young LGBTs with warmth and sincerity.

The films to be screened are well-crafted pieces of cinema and serve to actively defy stereotypes and bring forth perspectives of those often neglected by mainstream features.

The Youth Jury Award went to Lily, a tumultuous coming of age tale set in Ireland. Director Graham

By Emily Cross

You can watch all four shorts in combined in hourlong screenings at The Warren from 3rd May til 1st June at various times with tickets starting at just £2.50 - see our calendar for timings.


All of the information in this publication, including all images, is copyrighted material of Ignite Publishing Ltd, except as otherwise indicated. You may not copy, download, republish, distribute, or reproduce any of the information contained in this publication in any form without the prior written consent of Ignite Publishing unless otherwise indicated. The opinions expressed in this magazine, by contributors or advertisers, do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or editor or Ignite Publishing. Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Ignite Publishing cannot accept responsibility for any errors in articles or advertisements or changes to event schedules after going to press. You should verify all information before relying on it and decisions based on information contained in our publication are your sole responsibility. All information correct at time of going to press. Images courtesy of Š FreePik.com

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