Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Bechdel Testing The Mono Box

The Mono Box is a London-based collaborative network who, amongst other fabulous things (running workshops, panels, and advice forums), own a collection of over 3000 plays which they regularly open for anyone who wants to browse their mighty shelves of scripts in search of monologues, duologues and general inspiration. If you haven't visited yet, get some of these dates in your diary to join in with some of their autumn events.

All of the plays in The Mono Box's ever-growing library are donated by industry professionals in response to the question, “If you could recommend one play to a young actor to read, what would it be?" - and many of them contain lovely handwritten messages of recommendation from their donor. It's a brilliantly encouraging thing to pick up a text you like the look of and find a note from a personal hero or theatre legend telling you why they love this play and which line, scene, or monologue is their favourite. As a browsing experience, this is a mega step up from impersonal bookshop or library browsing - and some of the plays they've gathered are less often available in libraries or shops. It's a vital resource for anyone without the disposable income to throw at ordering every play you've ever heard of - especially considering the sad recent closure of Samuel French's central London bookshop.

The geniuses at The Mono Box have devised a clever page-marking system for anyone seeking great monologues or duologues - so if you're browsing with purpose, whether you have an audition or showcase looming or just want to freshen up your repertoire, there are colour-coded tags in many of the scripts to help you find recommended scenes. This summer they've been taking this system further, diving in to look in more detail about the collection and explore the contents and contexts of the plays that have been donated so far.

This is where Bechdel Theatre come in!

We brought along our "Bechdel Test Pass!" stickers to identify every script in The Mono Box collection that features two women talking to each other about something other than a man. With a team of brilliant volunteers we systematically flipped through script after script, weeding out those with no female characters, and the ones where the female characters are kept separate from one another, until we came to scenes featuring two women - and this is where things get really interesting. 

The conversations provoked by the third question in the Bechdel test: "Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?" was by far the most stimulating of discussion. On discovering an interesting scene between two women, the team of volunteers would often stop to gather around, read the scene and ask more complicated questions, such as: What brought these characters together? How long do they spend talking to each other? What's their relationship? What are they talking about? What are they REALLY talking about? Is it a turning point in the play? Is one or both of them driving the plot? If they mention a man, is he the main topic of conversation, or is it a passing reference to him amongst a deeper discussion about something more significant in their lives? 

Rummaging through The Mono Box, we found Bechdel test passing plays rare enough to be exciting, but less elusive than we expected. We were pleasantly surprised by plays we weren't expecting to pass: older plays by male writers, plays with more men than women. We were fascinated by characters with gender unspecified, and some where women play men. The conversations surrounding the plays kept us busier than expected. Most excitingly, we found so many passes that we had to print extra stickers!

The full stats from our search are in the process of being digitalised (ooh), and will be added to as The Mono Box collection increases (if you have any scripts gathering dust on your shelves they're open for donations). But for now, here's a little taster of some of The Mono Box scripts that we particularly enjoyed discovering more about, and provoked some interesting discussions and debates during our week-long excavation. 

Mary Stuart - Fredrich Schiller (1800)
4f, 12m
In this classic German play, Schiller gives us not just one mighty queen but two: Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I, who meet when Catholic Mary (Queen of Scots) is imprisoned to stop her from making a claim to her English Protestant cousin's throne. While Mary awaits Elizabeth's declaration of her fate, various male characters arrive and stir up trouble for each of them, but ultimately Elizabeth is the one who decides Mary's fate, and the tension between the two women entirely drives the plot of the play and their meeting provides its most compelling moments of drama.

The Almeida's recent production of Mary Stuart gave audiences the opportunity to see two phenomenal women in their 50s (Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams) take turns playing the two lead roles (finding out who would play who on the night by tossing a coin) in a show that raised nationally relevant themes in the wake of Brexit-provoked rumblings of Scottish independence. Frequently staged across the world, any production of this play is worth its salt in that it gives experienced female actors a pair of roles that allow them to fully stretch and flex their mighty acting muscles in a play that addresses the hefty topics of politics, philosphy and religion as well as the queens' relationships with each other and the men around them.

Robert Icke's critically acclaimed production of Mary Stuart is transferring from The Almeida to the Duke of York's Theatre in January 2018.

A Woman of No Importance - Oscar Wilde (1893)
7f, 8m 
The woman of the title is middle-aged single mother Mrs Arbuthnot who has struggled devotedly to bring up her son in socially restrictive and judgemental Victorian England. Gender and class prejudices and oppression intertwine and overlap knottily in this play, and Oscar Wilde's own opinions on the subjects seem (to some) to contradict each other - he gives the villainous rake and absent father Lord Illingworth all the best lines, and the wronged Mrs Arbuthnot, despite her independence, seems to have spent years in his absence obsessing over the way he treated her. The puritanical Hester is searing in her take-down of English society's inequalities and hypocrisy, but the women who mock her do so in a comical manner that is far more entertaining to listen to than any of her moralising. This conflict seems to be at the heart of a lot of Wilde's work - he portrays the seductiveness of selfishness and the charming confidence of the extremely privileged with an irresistibly watchable flourish that similtaneously satirises how awful they are, and makes it easy to empathise with the characters who get taken in by them.

The plot of this play may be simple, but the issues addressed are complex and multi-layered, and the characters are appropriately well-developed and muti-faceted. Mrs Arbuthnot's devotion to her son and her hatred for his father pull her in all directions, and give her brilliantly simultaneous inter-linked motivations. She is strong, steadfast and independent in her resistance to 'repent' for the affair that resulted in her son, but vulnerable and emotionally affected by the unexpected appearance of the ex, from whom she wants to escape at all costs. She's inconsistent and changable in ways that make her seem not just human and complicated, but distinctly modern in her awareness of and anger at the society which has trapped her in the position that she finds herself in. Likewise, the moralising Hester, who far from being the stereotypical goody-goody that she seems at the beginning of the play, turns out to be the most genuine heart of it - falling in love with Mrs Arbuthnot's son and allying herself with them in sympathy with (and not in spite of) the 'sinful' origins of their family. Hester recognises true goodness in people, is not for one moment seduced by Illingworth's so-called 'charms', and hits the nail on the head when she addresses the English upper-classes in Act II with a line that could not ring truer today: "Living, as you all do, on others and by them, you sneer at self-sacrifice, and if you throw bread to the poor, it is merely to keep them quiet for a season.", this play gets a solid pass for that conversation, and a recommendation for actors of both Hester and Mrs Arbuthnot's casting age to check out these fascinating characters.

A Woman of No Importance is being performed at The Vaudeville Theatre from Oct 6th until Dec 30th.

Three Sisters - Anton Chekhov (1901)
5f, 9m 
These sisters do spend an awful lot of time talking about men, which provoked some discussion amongst the Mono Box team about how long, and how deeply the women in the script should speak to each other without talking about men to count as a 'pass'. One scene where the sisters discuss their sister-in-law Natasha's vulgar green belt is a stand-out moment that caused some debate - is a group of women talking about clothes portraying a stereotype of 'what women talk about'? Is their bitchiness a condemnation of female relationships? Personally I think this is a brilliant 'sniping with subtext' scene, which reveals their shared snobbery and belief in their superiority over their brother's wife, a fatal underestimation of Natasha considering the power she will come to wield over their family. Others felt that a few lines about a belt in a sea of in-depth conversations about men was revealing of Checkhov's failing to credit women with autonomy within a male-dominated society.

In the end we gave it a sticker based on the fact that Olga, Masha and Irena are all distinctly detailed characters, with complex inner lives, and none of them falls into the categories of wife, mother or sister of a more prominent male protagonist. Plus, they have the final and most famous scene in the play, which reveals the true motivations that lie behind their attachments to the men they frequently discuss: their desire to survive. 

Rita, Sue and Bob Too - Andrea Dunbar (1982)
3f, 3m 
Written when she was 19, Andrea Dunbar's tale of two teenage girls on a council estate sleeping with a much older man was hugely impactful when it was first staged in the 80s, seen by many as a scathing indictment on the impact of Thatcher's failure of the British working-class. Dunbar was a brilliant young writer who had recent and continuing lived experience close to the characters that she was portraying - she spent her life on the estate where she grew up, and had given birth three times before writing this play.

Rita, Sue and Bob Too was controversial in our Bechdel testing sessions due not only to the subject matter of teenage sexuality, but also the amount of time that Rita and Sue spend talking about Bob. After their first encounter with him, their lives increasingly revolve around when and where they will have sex with him again. We gave it a Bechdel test pass because not only are these girls' authentic teenage voices a thing of beauty: loud, joyful, sometimes cynical, frequently hilarious and insightful, but they also spend a considerable amount of one scene frankly discussing their periods - which is not something we hear enough about stage, considering how many people it affects.

A new production of Rita, Sue and Bob Too, by Out of Joint is touring from September and returning to the Royal Court in Janurary.

Attempts On Her Life - Martin Crimp (1997)
Cast "Should reflect the composition of the world beyond the theatre"
Subtitled '17 Scenarios for Theatre' Martin Crimp's play is famous for specifying little about the identity of either the actors or most of the characters. The title refers to the elusive Anne, who changes from one scene to the next depending on who is talking about her - she is an actress, a terrorist, car for sale - she is always seen through the eyes of others. There is no linear plot and everything about the play is left wide open to the director's interpretation, including the casting, which Crimp specifies should "reflect the composition of the world beyond the theatre" - though how far beyond is not suggested. For this we gave it a Bechdel test sticker: real life constantly passes the test, so a production of Attempts On Her Life would be going against it's writer's specifications if it didn't.

In a world where 'default' characters are so often seen as male, from the stickman to the everyman, the fact that Attempts on Her Life centres around a woman feels very specific. It subtly encourages the audience to consider the 'male gaze', and the idea that all of us see each other through the (sexist and racist) lens of the society we live in, and all of our relationships are influenced by the media and culture we consume. The world of this play feels very British, and it feels very 1997 (references to technology and pop culture date it very specifically as pre-Millenial), and though it was revived in a bells-and-whistles high tech production directed by Katie Mitchell at the National Theatre a decade ago, it would be interesting to see a post-Selfie production of it, or perhaps even a female-penned response to it, exploring how our relationship to our own image has developed in these crucial years.

nut - debbie tucker green (2013)
4f, 3m 
debbie tucker green's reputation grows more formidable with every new play she writes. Her dialogue is all at once naturalistic and poetic, filled with banalities and colloqualisms whilst often intensely poignant, with a distinctive rhythm that draws in the audience closely in to her world from the moment the first character speaks. In nut, we're given a startling and disturbing insight into the mind of a woman with a mental illness, through whose eyes we gradually see the world crack and crumble. Giving the audience a first-hand taste of the chaotic way in which protagonist Elayne perceives reality is tucker green's precisely effective way of making us understand Elayne's experience, rather than simply showing the impact of her illness on those around her. 

tucker green's plays are full of brilliant dualogues, and she writes mainly for black actors across a huge range of settings and roles, so her plays provide beautifully rich pickings for often under-represented actors to explore - we could have picked a number of them for this list. For example: her latest play a proufoundly affectionate devotion to someone (noun) was a sold-out triumph at the Royal Court recently, which deserved to be seen by far far bigger audiences than could fit into their upstairs space. We chose nut one to recommend reading because it stands out for passing the Bechdel test in its opening scene, in which two women discuss plans for their own funerals, in a dark game where each predicts greater spectacles for how they'll be remembered when they're gone. It sets the tone perfectly for the play, and is the perfect introduction to the unique genius of tucker green's writing.

Home - Nadia Fall (2013)
4f, 5m
Home is a verbatim play, made using recordings of real people's words to form the script, based on interviews with people living and working in a hostel for young people in East London. It gives a glimpse into some of the residents lives, looking at the ups and downs of their daily lives in the block where they all stay (some more temporarily than others) in close quarters, as well as reflecting on how they reached their circumstances, and looking towards their hopes, dreams, and goals for the future.

The fact that real words are used in Home (and other verbatim plays) mean that every character has a deep and powerful truth behind them, although some of them here represent an interpretation or merging of several real people's stories to create a narrative journey for the show. Director Nadia Fall worked sensitively in workshops that involved the hostel's participants and, whilst maintaining anonymity, has creatively captured an essence of their reality in Home which would be impossible without including those who experienced life in the hostel. One aspect of this play which caused some discussion was the inclusion of a character called Jade who beatboxes rather than speaking, who represents some of the people that Fall couldn't speak to, or didn't want to be recorded when she was interviewing hostel residents. The use of beatbox as a mode of communication to portray the presence of those whose words couldn't be included in Home raises the question of what counts as a "conversation" within the limits of the Bechdel test? The explosions of beatboxing from Jade (played by the phenomenally talented Grace Savage in the National Theatre's production) was one of the most unforgettable aspects of the play from an audience member's perspective. Whilst browsing The Mono Box looking for Bechdel test passes, Jade provided us with a reminder that most communication is not verbal and a strong argument for the importance of considering a character's actions and impact (as well as the number of lines they have to say) when we're thinking about what constitutes significant representation on stage. Women in society (especially poor women) are often silenced, and representing those women as making a difference to the world around them, and having an important inner life of their own, is no less essential than showcasing "strong female leads" who are confident women in power.

People, Places and Things - Duncan Macmillan (2015)
13m, 13f, 7 unspecified
Playing central character in People, Places and Things, propelled mega-talent Denise Gough from jobbing actor to superstar in 2015. Gough made sudden impact on the theatre industry not just with her powerful performance in the play, but also with her campaigning for gender representation with Waking The Feminists and Equal Representation for Actresses. With such a force of nature actor at it's heart, rightly claiming all accolades and awards available that year, it would be easy to forget that People, Places and Things contains a multitude of other fine roles for actors of all genders, both monologues and duologues. The conversation between Emma and her mother at the end of the play is a serious lump-in-the-throat gut wrencher of a duologue for two women over the age of 30 (is there any greater joy than watching two gloriously skilled and experienced actresses nail a scene together at the National Theatre and then in the West End?).

Fast forward to 2017 and while Bechdel testing The Mono Box collection (where copies of People, Places and Things are understandably well-thumbed by monologue-seeking actresses) we noticed that seven of the characters in this play have their gender unspecified. Allowing for a choice of gender in casting is admirable for so many reasons: It gives flexibility for a multi-role playing ensemble of actors, it gives the director more options to find the best actor available for each of the un-gendered roles and allows them the choice to give more jobs to female, non-binary, or gender-fluid actors if they wish. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved and is one of the many reasons why this play is sure to be revived with frequency and freshness for a long time to come.

People, Places and Things is touring the UK from September 22nd with Lisa Dwyer Hogg in the lead role, and begins it's New York run at St Ann's Warehouse on October 19th with Denise Gough returning to the role.

Boys Will Be Boys - Melissa Bubnic (2016)
6f - All characters, including men, are played by female actors.
A cabaret-style play about bankers addressing all the things you'd expect a show about bankers to consider: capitalism, greed, selfishness, exploitation, loneliness and of course toxic masculinity. The twist is that every character, male or female, is played by a woman. The effect is that the male characters filtered through a female actor's body and mind become magnificently on-point satirical portraits of old-school sexist bosses and their racist and entitled public school underlings. The grossness of their attitude and position is enhanced, while a level of actual threat is removed - we don't have to see any sex or rape scenes featuring male actors looming ominously over female ones, which is a relief: this play treads some uncomfortable but important ground when addressing both of those issues and the all-female cast is a reassuring buffer to any lines that could be crossed.

Whilst the male characters in Boys Will Be Boys provide stomach-turningly close-to-the-bone satire, the female characters contain more multitudes - there is proper depth to their personalities and motivations. Though some of the women's aims in life seem materialistic, their deeper pain and passions are revealed through songs and many private conversations. In Boys Will Be Boys, Melissa Bubnic has found a canny way of centring female experiences and perspectives, and passing the Bechdel test with flying colours, whilst exploring the male-dominated world of finance - and while she's at it, Bubnic writes top roles under-represented women: older women, BAME women, masculine-presenting women, can all be cast in solid three-dimensional parts with high-stakes, high-status and deep flaws, without having to wait for a director to come along and gender-swap something Shakespearean. 

Girls - Theresa Ikoko (2016)
Based on news stories of young women kidnapped by Boko Haram, Theresa Ikoko vividly imagines three teenage girls support each other during their imprisonment in Girls. Showing only the perspectives of the girls themselves, Ikoko avoids showing directly the darkest details of their story (except through some nightmarish descriptions), giving the audience a chance to laugh with these three close friends as they cheer themselves up cracking jokes, and entertain each other with high-energy impersonations of TV shows and politicians. She shows the girls' suffering and resilience without sentimentalising their tenacity or defining them as victims. Tisana, Haleema, and Ruhab are women like those seen on the news in large groups banded together by their trauma, but on stage in Girls they are portrayed as individuals with vibrant and distinctive personalities.

The play's focus - more on the girls' relationship that their circumstances - means that as we gradually become aware of the grave situation they're in and recognise it as based on a contemporary reality, the impact is sharp, deep and long-lasting. Audiences watching this play feel distance disappear as the intimate time we spend with these girls, they're humans rather than pixels on a TV screen, real live girls whose playful teasing we recognise from any school ground in the world. When they talk about the brutality of the men who hold them captive and the empty rhetoric of politicians and foreigners expressing concern before moving on to the next big news story, their message becomes crystal clear. Girls makes it impossible for anyone watching (or reading) to forget the lives of the young women behind headlines and tweets about kidnappings and trafficking (Ikoko points out that this happens everywhere in the world, not just Nigeria). As Haleema says: "What on earth do you want to do with a hashtag? Can you use it to shoot your way out of here?". By passing the Bechdel test with flying colours (because they have more to talk about than their captors) the conversations in this play give girls imprisoned everywhere a powerful voice that sets their humanity apart from their status as captives, and should be heard all over the world. 

Girls is touring in September and October, to Suffolk, Salisbury, Walthamstow and Plymouth

That's all for now!

We'll be at some of The Mono Box workshops and Speech Surgeries this Autumn. Do come and say hi if you see us with our stickers, and let us know if you come across a play or scene that inspires you.

Happy Bechdel testing!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 - our #FeministFaves

Here it is, folks! The full list of our favourite shows from this year's Edinburgh Fringe, in more detail than expected (we may have got carried away). There's just over a week left of the festival, so if you're in town and haven't seen these shows yet, get booking ASAP.

If you're all fringed out, or didn't make it to the festival, get these productions on your radar - Edinburgh is a springboard for successful shows to tour off the back of, so they'll be likely to pop up again on a stage near you.

As with our longer pre-fringe shows to see list, we've grouped these by venue and time to make it easier to plan if you're on a tight schedule. This list includes both solid Bechdel test passes, and female-led shows that we feel are worth bending the test's critera to include.

For in-depth interviews with some of our #FeministFaves subscribe to our podcast, and for constant updates on Bechdel test passing shows and up-to-the-minute #FeministFringe #TopTips follow us on twitter and instagram.

Out of Love @ Summerhall Roundabout 13:25 

A starkly truthful and sweetly funny story of the friendship between two girls as they grow up and part ways. Sharp writing from Elinor Cook and superb performances from a cast who spring from child to teenage to adult roles (and back again) in the split-second of a lighting change, with the deft unwavering confidence of gymnasts, and no props whatsoever. Out of Love perfectly captures the intensity of best-friendship between girls, and the lasting impact such early connections can have on women's lives and relationships, even beyond adolescence. 
Out of Love is performed in Paines Plough's accessible and ingeniously constructed pop-up theatre, Roundabout, which this year is home to five Bechdel test passing plays: see their full list.

#FeministFringe #TopTip: The selection of variously sized spaces filled with excellent female-led shows of all genres make Summerhall the perfect venue to spend a day at if you want to settle in to one spot and avoid lengthy treks through the rain between shows.

Salt @ Summerhall Northern Stage 14:30

Selina Thompson took a journey on a ship tracing the steps of her ancestors on the transatlantic slave trade route via Belgium, Ghana, Jamaica and the US. In Salt, she tells the story of her own journey so vividly that the sights, sounds and smells of the places become intensely present in the room - from her parents cosy home in Birmingham, to the claustrophobic bowels of the ship and dank castle dungeons where slaves were held. Thompson gains the trust of her audience immediately with her steady and direct tone of voice and eye contact, and maintains it. Her connection with us never strays from being sharply in the moment, while her story covers years. The memory of the people whose enslavement brought us all to this point fizzes palpably in the air throughout the performance, increasingly impossible to ignore, with the image of Thompson breaking up salt crystals etched deeply in the minds of all leaving Summerhall after seeing this show.

The Edinburgh run of Salt is sold out but we strongly advise asking about returns and seeking out Selina Thompson post-Fringe, her work is essential and unmissable.

Box Clever @ Roundabout Summerhall 16:40

A new play about one woman’s experience of a refuge and a mother’s commitment to do the best for her daughter, written and performed by Monsay Whitney, with singer-songwriter Avi Simmons providing live music, beautiful clowning, and a multitude of surrounding characters. Simmons does a sterling job switching between these many roles, and is especially lovely as daughter Autumn, but unfortunately had a few lines in a Jamaican accent for one character, which was jarring and could be reconsidered. Whitney's writing and performance in this show is phenomenal, her protagonist is a perfectly pitched complex portrayal of a woman persisting as she is challenged to breaking point by abuse and bureaucracy. Our hearts break with hers as she tries to bring up her four-year-old in a world where most other adults seem toxic, weak or uncaring. Throughout this tale of adversity Whitney never allows a hint of stereotypes often tied to female-led tragic narratives: inspirational strong woman, or weeping mis-treated damsel, but is she always truly, refreshingly, devastatingly human.

You've Changed @ Summerhall Northern Stage 20:30

Kate O'Donnell transitioned in 2003 before the term 'transgender' even existed. Her insight into how the world and attitudes to gender have (and haven't) changed is fun, witty, deeply personal, and brilliantly educational. Her hilariously matter-of-fact conversation with her own vagina wins the Bechdel Theatre award for most creative woman-alone-on-stage passing of the Bechdel test!

You've Changed is a show for everyone from the most gender-aware to those just discovering trans 101, O'Donnell is a welcoming host, ready to share her wisdom with anyone willing to learn. This accomplished performer and obviously fantastically intelligent woman could be a guiding light for anyone going through the 'coming out' process that she embarked on 15 years ago, and her show should be essential viewing for any cisgender fringe-goers with trans friends or family (which is most of us, whether we realise it or not).

Dollywould @ Summerhall 21:15

Sh!t Theatre f*cking love Dolly Parton, and so do we. This is not a sing-along-a jukebox musical, but is also not the socio-political documentary style that's come to be expected from performance art darlings Sh!t Theatre. Their 'main-stage crossover hit', is duly getting the bums-on-seats that their ever-growing reputation has earned, and lives up to all our hopes and expectations that have built up from hearing that this show is a "new direction" for the duo. There's not much more that can be said without spoilers, but think about all your favourite aspects of Dolly herself and you'll find them in the show: tits, glitter, uncompromising frankness, catchy hooks, vulnerability that's strictly on the performer's terms, and (as anyone who REALLY follows Dolly will know) a genius air of seductive mystery.

#FeministFringe #TopTip: The chippy up the road if you turn left outside Summerhall were way cheaper than the food vans inside, and they didn't mind at all that we spent the time waiting for our food performing our own rendition of 9-to-5

Workshy @ Summerhall 21:10

The box office assistant asked if we were squeamish before handing over the tickets to this performance by Katy Baird. It's a frank chronological explanation of the all the ways Baird has paid the bills over the years, with photos, video, a multitude of props, and some touchingly intimate personal anecdotes filling in detail between the lines of a CV which took her from burger flipping to live art.
Baird makes us aware of our relationship to her and to each other as viewers in a number of creative ways, the first is by asking for pay transparency via raised hands at the beginning of the show. This sets the tone for the level of involvement she asks of the audience (not very much), and the level of open-mindedness that should be brought into the room if you want to get the most out of the show (plenty). We won't spoil the rest of the fantastic ways that Katy Baird plays with and unites her crowd, except to say that we loved every moment, even the one that had some of the audience's high-earners shielding their eyes.

Eggs Collective Get A Round @ Summerhall  21:10

This lively ensemble piece from multi-talented comics Eggs Collective takes the audience along on a night out with three women. In identical sequined dresses the women begin as one giggling group, but the trio is gradually unravelled by each of the characters unique voices, vices and virtues as they take us step by messy step on a chaotic weekend.

Eggs Collective's show is deeper than it first appears, and without saying too much, we related to the way these women's joyous jokes and pop-theme tunes turned to tears, their woes weighed down by a level of self- and world-awareness not often afforded to representations of noisy, sparkly women.
They give you a drink too!

Rachel Creeger: It's No Job for a Nice Jewish Girl @ Black Market 13:40

Rachel Creeger's jokes are not just for the Jewish - this English Atheist was laughing as heartily at this performance as the Jewish American family beside us, who related so avidly that they waved their Kosher food-finding app upon its mention during the set. Although the title makes reference to a version of Orthodoxy which bans women from performing to mixed audiences, and relays tales from Creeger's years singing for female-only audiences in a successful Jewish girl band, this show seems to balance on the perfect line both welcoming the devout with in-jokes and tickling the non-believers with insight. Everyone in this cosy little pub, minutes from the soul-testing Mile, was equally warmed by Creeger's sweet 'supply-teacher' demeanour, and thrilled by the witty edge of her punchlines.

Ada Campe and The Psychic Duck @ CC Blooms 15:00

Variety legend (and comedy alter-ego of renowned feminist academic Naomi Paxton) Ada Campe returns to the Fringe with a wildly eccentric storytelling show inspired by the the music hall, circus and burlesque characters of fairground history. The name of this show correctly implies a hefty level of silliness, so keep that spirit in mind on arrival, but there is more to expect than just ridiculous (excellent) animal puns: Psychic Duck is peppered with wicked punchlines, gently chaotic audience participation, and ingenious magic. In a nostalgic setting and narrative style that will be familiar to fans of Victorian and Edwardian sensationalist crime drama, Ada Campe (who DIVA magazine described as an 'unhinged supervillain', and we see as the kind of lady Edina and Patsy would have get sloshed with and snogged, had they been around in the 1920s) weaves a tale of showbiz legends, female companionship, and achieving your dreams - however outrageous they might seem.

London Hughes: Superstar @ C Royale 19:15

One of our many Fringe hosts, as we surfed from generous person's couch to welcoming person's floor, told us that London Hughes used to be a kids TV presenter. I don't know what image that conjures for you - but Blue Peter this show is not. London Hughes is an incredible human whirlwind of talents, with her unstoppable energy the only thing recognisably 'kids telly' about her. Hughes astute observations on life bounce skillfully between the personal and political. She frames an hour of stand-up and sketches around a list of all the ways she's tried to get famous, leaping from fabulous dance routines to searing race commentary, pushing the line of audience interaction in a way that only someone so hugely likeable could get away with.  She never lingers on one topic or routine for longer than a minute, which makes this hour fly but simultaneously feel like 2 hours worth of material. If it weren't for the ache in our faces and bellies from laughing, we'd have gladly stayed for an encore, and will certainly be back for more in future.

#FeminstFringe #TopTip: C Venues Royale (where London Hughes is playing), and CC Blooms (where Ada Campe is on) are on the other side of the bridge from most of the other venues we visited, but are near loads of shops and cafes, so if you want a break from being flyered constantly, need to nip into M&S buy a cardi or some pants, or fancy a sit-down vegan lunch at Henderson's Cafe, work that into your day between these two!
Also, CC Blooms is a fabulous LGBTQ+ nightspot, if you feel the urge for a bit of late night dancing.

Mae Martin: Dope @ Laughing Horse at City Cafe 20:00

Mae Martin is another human whirlwind who made the time disappear before our eyes as we were completely absorbed her world. The world in which this show takes place is Martin's mind, which is inhabited by an imagined creature who's hungry for the dopamine that the show's title refers to (it's more about psychology than drugs, though drugs do come up). Martin is some whose life is a bullet list of one involving obsession or addiction after another. This show is particularly relateable for anyone who grew up as one of those 'weird' kids with fixations on a celebrity or hobby, and will recognise themselves with the kind of cringe-laugh that constantly threatens to turn into uncontrollable tears. If that's not you, you almost certainly know someone like that, and will laugh almost as hard: Martin's decades of experience on the comedy scene mean she has a mad-genuis-like awareness of how to connect with her crowd, and (given the potentially sensitive nature of some topics) takes perfect care of every individual in this crammed underground nightclub space.

#FeministFringe #TopTip: Get to City Cafe early and queue to ensure entry, Mae Martin is as popular as she deserves to be and will almost certainly be impossible to see in such an intimate space before too long. If you miss Dope at 8pm, or want to see more after it, Mae Martin also has an improv show later in the evening which she shares with a man, but is also good fun.

Georgie Morrell: Morrell Highground @ Underbelly Med Quad

Georgie Morrell (who's at the Fringe in two shows: this and her first show 'A Poke In The Eye', on at Cabaret Voltaire at 20:30) talks extensively and hilariously about her experience of temporarily going blind in both eyes (having been seeing with one eye for most of her life). She goes into particular detail and depth telling us about the NHS doctors and staff who have treated her, and the ludicrous process of being assessed for her benefits. Morrell's style is wryly self-deprecating, only dipping briefly into sweetness when playing clips of her parents talking alongside family photos, frequently giving an edge to any hint of cute by sending herself up for being 'spoilt' and a 'daddy's girl'. Though the audience sympathise with her health troubles and arduous run-ins with bureaucrats, we never feel pitying or voyeuristic, Morrell's responsive chats with the audience and confidence in her punchlines make her seem like the kind of natural comic that you could spend all day in the company of - you'll come out of this show feeling like you've made a new pal - one who we'd readily march alongside, should we bump into her at to a 'Save Our NHS' protest any time soon.

Good Girl @ Just The Tonic in the Mash House 13:00

Naomi Sheldon is a triple threat: actor, writer and comic, and Good Girl is a virtuoso demonstration of all three of these expertly-honed skills. Sheldon sweeps up the audience in a torrent of warm bubbling energy and has us captivated from the second the lights go up as she tells a simple story which could sound trite on paper: a coming of age tale of a woman learning how to process her own emotions. The plot is much more than that (we don't wanna spoil it!), but the real magnet for our undivided attention is Sheldon's physical and vocal transformations as she brings to life every character that her protagonist GG encounters on her journey to adulthood: childhood friends, teachers, and employers are all played for laughs without ever being stereotypes, or detracting from the emotional crux of the story.

#FeministFringe #TopTip: We don't think many of the Just The Tonic venues have raked seating, so if you're short like us get there early to pick your seats!

Evelyn Mok: Hymen Manoeuvre @ Pleasance Courtyard 18:00

As the name suggests, this is a show about Mok losing her virginity. While the inevitably awkward 'first time' provides an ingenious title and a warm chuckle of audience pathos when she asks if ANYONE has a good time losing their virginity, this is not purely a show about sex (or lack of it). It's about everything in life that brought Mok to That Night - from her experiences growing up speaking English and Swedish with an Indian accent, to the advice, strength and body-image issues passed down through generations of Chinese women in her family. Mok does not always allow her audience to settle in comfortably, or expect us to relate to every aspect her unique story: she keeps us on our toes at all times, but her wry self-awareness and compellingly confident stage presence mean we're always rooting for her (in a way that we never do for Amy Schumer, who gets name-checked as a comparison on her flyer). Hymen Manoeuvre left us eager to find out what happens in the next chapter of Evelyn Mok's life as she hits her 30s, and looking forward to hearing more from her in the future.

DIGS @ Pleasance Courtyard 13:45

Devising duo Theatre with Legs have created this dark comedy about Generation Rent, overdrafts, anxiety and surviving their 20s. A mix of not-entirely-stylised awkward dialogue between two housemates, overlapping finish-each-others-sentences direct address, and beautifully expressive solo scenes by each performer alone on stage, Jess Murrain and Lucy Bairstow have chemistry that simmers, sometimes with synchronicity and sometimes with conflict and tension. At times uncomfortable - especially for anyone who has ever felt alone whilst living in a shared flat in a big city - this show and the relationships it explores are both clearly deeply personal, almost universally recognisable, and electric to watch.

Offside @ Pleasance Courtyard 15:40

Fresh from a successful tour, Offside is a poetic drama, co-written by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish, based on the lives of female footballers, from the 1880s up to the present day. The three-strong cast lived up to the athleticism of their characters with dynamic performances, all of them switching between characters and accents seamlessly to tell a series of overlapping stories of inspirational individuals, with the kind of rousing feminist battlecry moments that guarantee a lump in the throat and a fire in the belly for the impassioned crowds it's attracting.

We chatted to Tanya Loretta Dee about her role in Offside on our podcast (out soon).

Cathy @ Pleasance Dome 15:30

A play about homelessness today, inspired by the film Cathy Come Home, and based on stories of people who have been homeless, are currently homeless, or at risk of homelessness. All characters are realistically detailed and played with precision and humanity by a small team of actors, and their circumstances are enragingly true-to-life. We believe in every setting as we travel alongside Cathy between flats and hostels, on buses and on streets, thanks to an ingenious Fringe-friendly set constructed from unstable-looking giant Jenga-block walls which crumble and are rebuilt everytime Cathy relocates.

Cardboard Citizens 'Legislative Theatre', with it's post-show law-making session, means that the audience is left feeling the urge to channel our anger and sadness into actions, to get involved in campaigns to change the systems that we've seen impact Cathy, rather than wallowing in helpless guilt.

Hot Brown Honey @ Assembly Roxy 21:00

Undoubtedly the fiery-est feminist hit show of last year's Fringe, the system-smashing cabaret burlesque show is back, with "lashings of sass and a hot pinch of empowerment". With DJ Busty Beatz at the helm, the team of formidable female superstars from a range of different artforms and backgrounds are making noise and taking up space gloriously from the moment the doors to Assembly Roxy are open.

This show is a blast of intersectional celebration and rage, consisting of a series of stunningly executed dance, circus and musical set-pieces. Particularly memorable are the cuttingly hilarious white-woman-on-holiday hula-hoop dance, the fuck-your-stereotypes maid costumes and Polynesian weaving routine, and a gut-wrenching aerial performance which will stick with you for ever. Then there is the beatboxing, and the incredible singing. We could go on. But just as it gets tempting to see these women as unstoppable superheroes decolonising the world one-song-and-dance-routine at a time, their impassioned raffle to raise money for childcare and pointed reminder to buy their merch lets us know that the mission of this show is very much in progress and the revolution can't continue without finances. So make sure you bring plenty of CASH with you when you see the show, and pay big to keep the honey flame burning bright!

Britney in: John @ Bedlam Theatre 18:30

The team behind last year's brain-tumour comedy, best friends Charly and Ellen, are back with a sketch show about a road trip across America that they took as 18-year-olds trying to make a documentary about American masculinity called 'In Search of John Hancock'.
Ellen and Charly have honed and developed their unique style of storytelling since we last saw them (it's a mix of their personal story, interspersed with pop-culture-inspired sketches), and the response seems to be an even higher laugh-per-minute-rate from their audience than their previous show (which was pretty high)  - though maybe it's just easier for us to engage with a light-hearted piss-take of earnest 18-year-old documentary makers than it is to find the LOLs in cancer?

Video evidence of their earnest docu-attempt in 'John' really adds an extra layer of humour to this show, and the simple but specific skewering of themselves and the world around them in their sketches showcases their skills brilliantly - they use no props except two stools, and wear their matching 'John Hancock' t-shirts at all times. If you want a guaranteed laugh, go to this show. If you want to hear more about it, listen out for our interview with Britney's Charly and Ellen (Ellen and Charly?) on the upcoming episode of Bechdel Theatre Podcast, recorded live at Gilded Balloon with Funny Women.

#FeministFringe #TopTip Funny Women Fest is on at noon every day at Gilded Balloon Teviot, and they have a different line-up of female stand-ups, comedy actors, and sketch groups every day. It's a great way to start your day, so bring a coffee and your diary in case you discover an act that you want to fit in to see more of later in the day!

Show Me The Money @ Bedlam Theatre (finished on the 13th)

Paula Varjack uses her own long career as the narrative backdrop for a funny, searing and extremely watchable exploration of how art is funded. Varjack demonstrates the hoops required to jump through, boxes to be ticked, admin to be filed, in order to fund art and dismantles with vigour and glitter the idea that you can't call yourself an artist unless you make money from art.
This was the second show we saw that asked for pay transparency from its audience (the other was Workshy - see above), and there was an audience member sat near us on £70k+! - we hope he has made a hefty investment into Varjack's work - Show Me the Money is valuable viewing for artists and non-artists alike and we'd love to see it tour extensively beyond the Fringe and reach as wide an audience as possible.

We Are Not Afraid @ Just The Tonic at The Caves 18:45

Roisin and Chiara are Pippa's favourite ever comedy double act. They have synchronicity like no other duo we've seen, as well as each possessing their own individual talents and distinctive physicality. It's a perfect match.
These two fearless improv geniuses bring a dazzling array of character sketches to life on a scale that threatens to knock the audience off their folding chairs and burst the seams of their modest venue in the caves. This was easily the paciest of all the shows we saw at the Fringe, so if you're feeling fatigued we advise planting yourself on the front row of this riotous rampage of larger-than-life characters in deliciously surreal situations. Wear your mac on your lap because it may get messy.

Quarter Life Crisis @ Underbelly Cowgate 14:40

Yolanda Mercy uses original music and spoken word in her quest to achieve adulthood. Alicia is a fictional character but we sense that her voice and experiences are not far from Yolanda Mercy's own. Mixing up the real and imaginary allows Mercy to create a distinctive and realistic character in Alicia, and a neat structure that takes us from her bedroom to a family wedding, via a sweet Tinder date, with the tug of her busy London Millennial life and her Nigerian family and history pulling her in all directions at once  as she interrogates and affirms all aspects of her own identity and place in the world. This show is gorgeously uplifting, and Mercy's presence as a performer is pure sunshine in the dark caves of Underbelly Cowgate. There were certainly happy tears in the audience when we saw Quarter Life Crisis, and word of mouth is spreading quickly of this astounding new talent, so get in to see it while you can.
Listen to our interview with Yolanda and director Jade Lewis on the most recent episode of our podcast, recorded just before they left for the Fringe.

Prom Kween @ Underbelly Cowgate 20:35

Rebecca Humphries' new musical is set firmly in the world of the American High School familiar to British audiences countless movies (think Grease, Hairspray, Mean Girls, Clueless etc) and it's plot centres around the recognisable popularity contest in which characters compete to become Prom Queen at the end of the school year.
Prom Kween has two unique aspects which make it stand out from its Hollywood peers: Firstly, the awareness of gender as a spectrum rather than a binary - our outcast hero does not identify as either male or female, show's host is a splendid queen (familiar to lovers of TV's Drag Race). Secondly, Prom Kween's dry humour and many layers of irony and cheekiness mean that despite its All-American setting, this show has a particularly British appeal that it's screen counterparts don't.
Prom Kween is a joyful pick-me-up right from the beginning (we were offered glitter to decorate our faces on arrival), and you can hear more about it on the next episode of our podcast (out soon).

That's all for this year!

For more detail on some of these shows, including interviews recorded live from the fringe, check out our Podcast, and keep following us on twitter where we'll be retweeting ALL the shows that pass the Bechdel test.

And our final, most important #FeministFringe #TopTip: if you're running short on time and budget to see shows at Edinburgh, check out this mural on the front of Assembly George Square Theatre for the best booking advice possible...

Monday, 24 July 2017

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

It's that time again... We're preparing to head up to Edinburgh Fringe, where we'll be highlighting shows that pass the Bechdel test, celebrating women on stage, championing gender-conscious and female-led theatre, and doing all we can to help you find shows where women are not completely absent.

If you're up at the Fringe, make sure you look out for our stamps and stickers on posters all around the city (and let us know if you see a show that we haven't highlighted yet).

(PS podcasting, stickering, being in Edinburgh all costs £££ and Bechdel Theatre receives no public funding, if you want to help us to support the improvement of gender representation on stage, you can make a donation, or become a Patron.)

Now, onto the recommendations! These are some Edinburgh shows that we reckon will *probably* pass the test, and definitely sound like they're worth seeing. To help you plan what to see, and when, we've organised them by venue and time-slot - because we know how hectic Fringe-going can be. 

When we see shows we REALLY love, we'll be adding them to our list of Edinburgh Fringe #FeministFaves - so keep an eye on that list too - it's shorter but has more detail!

See you there!


Plays, comedy double acts, sketch shows, dance companies, circus troupes and cabaret collectives that we're pretty sure feature at least two women.

DIGS @ Pleasance Courtyard 13:45

Devising duo Theatre with Legs have created this dark comedy about Generation Rent, overdrafts, anxiety and surviving their 20s. One of our #FeministFaves.

Dr Carnesky's Incredible Bleeding Woman @ Pleasance Courtyard 14:00

A burlesque show about periods, featuring a stellar line-up of menstruators, and a liiiittle bit of blood.

Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) @ Pleasance Courtyard 14:20

A cheery tale about a young woman with clinical depression, from Olivier Award winning playwright Jon Brittain ('Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho' & 'Rotterdam').

Buzz @ Pleasance Courtyard 15:30

A new musical about the history of vibrators, what more do you need to know? Catch this before it's success makes it impossible to get tickets for.

Offside @ Pleasance Courtyard 15:40

Fresh from a successful tour, Offside is a poetic drama, co-written by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish, based on the lives of female footballers, from the 1880s up to the present day. One of our #FeministFaves.

This Really Is Too Much @ Underbelly Cowgate 15:20

Gracefool combine dancing with dark comedy to delve into a world of farcical stereotypes and preposterous power struggles, wrestling with gender, identity and social convention.

Our Carnal Hearts @ Summerhall Roundabout 11:00
With a raucous chorus of original music, award-winning theatre maker Rachel Mars and four belting female singers bring you a gleeful, dark show about the hidden workings of envy.

Out of Love @ Summerhall Roundabout 13:25 
A new play by Elinor Cook about the close friendship between two girls as they grow up and take different directions in adulthood. One of our #FeministFaves.

No Show @ Summerhall 16:15

A contemporary all-female circus about the reality behind the flawless smiles and perfect execution: showcasing the wobbles, the pain, and the real cost of aiming for perfection.

Box Clever @ Summerhall Roundabout 16:40

A new play about one woman’s experience of a refuge and a mother’s commitment to do the best for her daughter. One of our #FeministFaves.

Love+ @ Summerhall 19:10
Love+ is a one-woman two-hander about the inevitability of human/robot relationships by Irish theatre company Malaprop. 

Eggs Collective Get A Round @ Summerhall  21:10
A wayward exploration of friendship, kindness and belonging that spills out towards its audience. Eggs Collective wonder if the basic principles of a good night out might make the world a better place. One of our #FeministFaves.

Dollywould - Sh!t Theatre @ Summerhall 21:15
Sh!t Theatre F*cking love Dolly Parton, and so do we. We also loved last year's offering from this award-winning performance duo. One of our #FeministFaves.

The Vagina Dialogues – The Völvas - Upper Church Summerhall 12:30

A cabaret-style theatre and variety piece that includes a series of episodic monologues, duologues, and movement pieces set to live music.

Funny Women Fest @ Gilded Balloon Teviot 12:00

A merry lunchtime mix of comedy, variety and conversation, with different funny women guests on every day.

Notflix @ Gilded Balloon Teviot 15:00

This improvised musical comedy is different every night, but always aces the Bechdel test.

Siblings @ Gilded Balloon Teviot 23:30

A raucous journey into the absurdity of an all too familiar world. Suitable for anyone who has or has seen a sister. ‘Watch out for these gals’ (Jennifer Saunders). ‘Hilarious’ (Dawn French). ‘Really funny’ (Miranda Hart).

Fémage à Trois @ Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre 15:30
A brand-new trilogy of independent stories, told by the women central to them, as they battle with their demons.

Mother's Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin @ Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre 18:15
A Cabaret about Gin: does what it says on the tin. Also the two performers promise that a g&t is included in the ticket price. Bottoms up!

Mouthpiece @ CanadaHub King's Hall
Two performers express the inner conflict that exists within a modern woman’s head: the push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression.

Under my Thumb @ Assembly Roxy 16:10

In a dystopian present, five women are imprisoned for crimes against society. Shortlisted for the inaugural RED Women's Theatre Awards in 2016.

Hot Brown Honey @ Assembly Roxy 21:00

Undoubtedly the fiery-est feminist hit show of last year's Fringe, the system-smashing cabaret burlesque show is back, with "lashings of sass and a hot pinch of empowerment". Don't miss it. One of our #FeministFaves.

Matter of Race @ Mint Studio at Greenside Infirmary Street 11:35

A story of two girls with identical lives, with one difference: the colour of their skin. Through physical theatre, spoken word, dance and song Zakiya Theatre Company explore just how much the colour of their skin affects their day-to-day treatment in society.

Britney in: John @ Bedlam Theatre 18:30

The team behind last year's brain-tumour comedy are back with a sketch show about a road trip across America. One of our #FeministFaves.

We Are Not Afraid @ Just The Tonic at The Caves 18:45

Roisin & Chiara are Pippa's favourite ever comedy double act. Surreal storytelling 'improvising geniuses' bring to life a plethora of irresistibly well-observed character vignettes. One of our #FeministFaves.

Scene @ Paradise in Augustines 16:45
Two women decide to write a play about their interracial queer relationship. Funny, honest and explosively entertaining, this piece of new writing is an exploration of race, gender, sexuality, family and what it means to love someone who doesn't look like you. 

Hotter @ Paradise in Augustines 22:45

Hotter asked everyone, from grannies to drag artists: 'What gets you hot?' Joined by the voices of women and non-binary people interviewed around the country, two women are embarking on a battle against embarrassment using sketch theatre, song and dance.

Manic Pixie Dream Girls @ Laughing Horse at The Counting House 01:00 (from Aug 13)

This show bills itself as a late-nght antidote to "Pale, Stale, Male Comedy". Hosts Sophie Duker and Erin Simmons share the stage with a different guest each night. We LOVED these Dream Girls last year, and can't wait to see more from them.

Stand-ups and one-woman shows that make it well worth stretching the limits of the Bechdel test to include. Because sometimes quality is as valuable as quantity.

Njambi McGrath: Breaking Black @ Laughing Horse at the Counting House 12:05
Spat on and told to go back to the jungle, Njambi explores the patriotism of immigrants in their new home and dwells on her own experiences as a Kenyan-born UK resident. She is Breaking Black and loving it.

Half Breed @ Assembly George Square Theatre 12:20
Trust me, around here I’m about as black as it goes…’ a partly autobiographical dark comedy by Natasha Marshall, presented by Soho Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company.

Desiree Burch: Unf*ckable @ Bobs BlundaBus 22:00
The 2015 Funny Women Award-winner presents her second comedy hour on sex, race and capitalism.

Quarter Life Crisis @ Underbelly Cowgate 14:40
Yolanda Mercy uses original music and spoken word in her quest to achieve adulthood. Listen to our interview with Yolanda and director Jade Lewis on our podcastOne of our #FeministFaves.

Dust @ Underbelly Cowgate 16:40
Milly Thomas, has written and performs this solo show about a woman forced to watch the aftermath of her suicide and its ripple effect on her family and friends.

Georgie Morrell: Morrell Highground @ Underbelly Med Quad 15:00
Can Georgie save the NHS? Are NHS doctors hotter than private ones?! Why can't disability be mega LOLz? Taking you through her bizarre and hilarious journey, find out how Georgie sees disability through her one eye! One of our #FeministFaves.

Athena Kugblenu: KMT @ Underbelly Med Quad 17:50
KMT – acronym for the Caribbean Patois expression 'kiss mi teeth', a mouth gesture used to show annoyance – is a debut hour that finds a new way to talk about politics, class, race and identity at a time both ends of the political spectrum couldn't be any further apart.

A Robot in Human Skin @ Underbelly Med Quad 20:30
Nicole Henriksen's fresh, truthful, and heartfelt look at mental health and the ways we treat and understand it. Come take a look into a different mind and see how you like the ride.

The Unmarried @ Underbelly Med Quad 22:35

Written and performed by Lauren Gauge, The Unmarried mixes 90s rave with 'striking, savage, rare writing talent', and has had sell-out runs at Lyric Hammersmith and Camden People’s Theatre.

Ava Campe and The Psychic Duck @ CC Blooms 15:00
A show about spirit waterfowl, wonderful women and a fairground mystery that occured on the Welsh coast many moons ago. DIVA said Ada Campe ‘resembles an unhinged super-villain’, and we agree (in the best possible way). One of our #FeministFaves.

Nina – A Story About Me and Nina Simone @ Traverse Theatre (times vary 5-13th Aug)

Josette Bushell-Mingo intertwines stories from her own life and career with Nina Simone's story and music from a live band.

Eggsistentialism @ Summerhall 13:00
Looking down the barrel of her final fertile years, one modern woman goes on a comical quest to uncover the ifs, hows and crucially the whys of reproducing her genes.  

Salt @ Summerhall Northern Stage 14:30
In February 2016, two artists got on a cargo ship to retrace one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle – from the UK to Ghana to Jamaica and back. This show is what they brought back. One of our #FeministFaves.

Pike St @ Summerhall Roundabout 15:00
Award-winning Nilaja Sun breathes life into a vibrant mix of Lower East Side residents in her latest solo show.

Workshy @ Summerhall 21:10
Looking through the lens of labour, Workshy is a powerful and honest portrayal of the relationship between class and aspiration. One of our #FeministFaves.

Rachel Creeger: It's No Job for a Nice Jewish Girl @ Black Market 13:40
With a face that shouts ‘Xmas’ but a soul that screams ‘Hanukkah’, Rachel Creeger has always felt like she has a foot in two worlds. A debut solo stand-up comedy show exploring the drive to fit in, with a bit about being a pop star. One of our #FeministFaves.

Mae Martin: Dope @ Laughing Horse at City Cafe 20:00
Mae shines a light on that one weird shrimp we all have in our brains that is happy to pursue short-term pleasure, despite knowing the long-term negative consequences. She asks: who are we when we're not addicted? One of our #FeministFaves.

Good Girl @ Just The Tonic in the Mash House 13:00
Frank, funny debut storytelling from Naomi Sheldon, in association with Old Red Lion Theatre and Bruised Sky Productions. A bold, provocative look at the darker side of being a good girl. One of our #FeministFaves.

Twayna Mayne: Black Girl @ Pleasance Courtyard 16:45
Twayna Mayne is a strong black woman with an extraordinary back story. In her highly anticipated debut hour, join this truly unique rising star as she guides us through a lifetime of labels and contradiction.

Evelyn Mok: Hymen Manoeuvre @ Pleasance Courtyard 18:00
Award-winning Swedish comedian explores first-generation guilt, intersectionality and adult virginity in this confident, smart and highly anticipated debut show. One of our #FeministFaves.

These shows have 1 m & 1 f on stage, but are excellently female focussed, and well worth a watch!

London Hughes: Superstar @ C Royale 19:15
London mixes her love of dance, television and comedy as she explores the crazy world of entertainment and examines the hot topic of diversity in the industry in Hughes’s signature energetic, honest and non-conformist style.

Seven Crazy Bitches @ Assembly Hall 19:00
Join the Diva on a budget as she guides you through the Seven Ages of Woman. Pit stops include seduction via Kate Bush, an interview with the woman who lived in Prince's head, and finding out how many two pence pieces a man can insert up his foreskin.

You've Changed @ Summerhall 20:30
Through song, dance, hard-won wisdom and hilarity, You’ve Changed shines a light on the ins and outs and ups and downs of transitioning. Challenging the idea that genitals equal gender, Kate literally bares all, getting her own out on the proverbial table. She’s changed, that’s clear, but have you?

That's all for now! 

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Seen an amazing show that we haven't covered yet? Let us know!