After a year of plotting and scheming since our last festival, we are back with another week of female and non-binary led theatre and this festival is even more rammed than last year! This month we are all set to take over spaces throughout Nottingham Playhouse and (new for 2019!) The Magnificent Spiegeltent with a celebratory week of world-class theatre, dance, poetry, workshops, comedy, circus and cabaret all with a generous side-helping of Party.
The Party Somewhere Else is a collective of twelve Nottingham-based artists and creatives. Formed in 2017, brought together by a shared frustration at the lack of female and non-binary led theatre locally and nationally, as well as the different barriers faced by women of colour, working class women, older women, disabled women, queer women, and mothers working in the arts. “We wanted to celebrate the performance work that female and non-binary artists are creating,” says Minder, one of the collective members. “We decided to do something together, and ended up organising a festival.” We were driven by anger and frustration but wanted to channel this into something celebratory - fighting for equality, one good night out at a time. “We try and have a sense of celebration about everything we do,” says collective member Eleanor. “The after-party will have a patriarchy piñata for anyone feeling angry to smash, but our events are already about having fun, getting inspired, and just having a really good night out”. Our festival is a platform from which many women can share their diverse stories in vastly creative ways - offering our audiences a chance to finally see shows they can relate to, and opportunities to engage with stories that are different from their own. As our Ria puts it: “we want to be accepting and open to everyone, we don’t want to be putting everyone into different boxes. If you think a show is for you, then come down.”
As well as promoting artists who’ve traditionally been in the minority, accessibility and wellbeing are high on the agenda for The Party Somewhere Else, and we have a specialist team working to bring the most innovative services in these areas to the festival. Many performances will include captioning via The Difference Engine, Talking Birds' new tool for making events and performances accessible to D/deaf or hard of hearing audience members by delivering captioning direct to their mobile devices. The Party Somewhere Else have also been working with The Arts Wellbeing Collective in Melbourne, Australia who are pioneering ways of caring for audiences, and are providing a creche for some events.
Alongside the range of performances happening during the week is a workshop by Clara Wilcox that explores work-life balance, aiming to give artists and others a toolkit to look after their mental wellbeing. On Saturday 18 May there’s also an Open House event, for everyone to chuck their two-bob’s worth in about how the arts and performance industries can be improved. “There’s the opportunity to have a conversation about what people feel is missing for them in theatre,” says Hannah. The Open House is a free event, and also includes a chance to see previews of work in progress from local and national artists.
Ensuring everyone can come to the party is top of the priority list for The Party Somewhere Else, and the collective have created a brand new initiative for people who want to attend the festival but may not be able to afford tickets. They have put some money aside to create a ticket fund: if someone would like to attend one of the events but money is tight, they can email [email protected], or call/text 07375665140 with their ticket request (max two tickets per request) and the collective will book and pay for tickets. They will keep doing this as long as there is money available. They are also inviting those who are feeling generous to contribute to the fund to enable them to offer more free tickets. The Party Somewhere Else want as many people as possible to come to the party, and they want to make sure money isn't a barrier for seeing the diverse spectrum of female and non-binary experience explored on stage. Donations can be made via Paypal to [email protected] or via Patreon.com/thepartysomewhereelse.
Highlights of 2019’s festival include Ladykiller by The Thelmas, which had a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and won the Pleasance Award at Vault Festival; Greyscale by Anonymous is a Woman, an intimate site-specific experience examining dating in a post #MeToo era; and The Question, an improvised musical by Pippa Evans (The Showstoppers, Radio 4). The festival also includes a cabaret and afterparty in Playhouse Bar and Kitchen on Saturday 18 May with circus, drag and walkabout performers. The festival closes on Sunday with Feminists Don’t Wear Pink, a live podcast discussion on Nottingham Playhouse main stage.
Based on the feedback from people who were at last year’s festival, it’s looking set to be another brilliant week: “Thank you for creating The Party Somewhere Else, for creating a festival that is inclusive, because anything that is not inclusive excludes someone, and you left no one out. Thank you for proving that women are not in competition with one another and that we are stronger when we are raised up by each other. Here's to you and to the brilliant party you have made and will continue to have. It has been the highlight of my year so far”. (Katie Arnstein)
Find the full line up and information on how to book tickets at the Party Somewhere Else website. Keep up to date with what’s happening by following The Party Somewhere Else on social media: thepartysomewhereelse on Facebook and Instagram, and @somewhereparty on Twitter.