Guest Blog: Holly Gallagher chats Cosplay, Community and Consent.

In this blog post, Holly Gallagher talks about what inspired the show Before(the line is lost), the cosplay community and most importantly consent. Before(the line is lost) comes to CPT Tuesday 6th March as part of Sprint Festival. Get your tickets here.

Hello lovely reader, potential audience member, and (maybe even?) friend!

My name is Holly Gallagher, I’m a theatre maker/director/facilitator (one of those all-hat-wearing-types) and the lovely folks at CPT have asked me if I could write a blog post before I bring my debut solo show Before (the line is lost) down to their venue for SPRINT ’18 on March 6th!

Of course I said yes. (I’ve never got to do this before, it’s quite exciting!)

I’ve spent a few days wondering what would be best to tell you about this show. So I’ve decided to type this up in the same way I made the show – plonk some music on, write a stream of consciousness to tell you a story, and hope in editing that things make sense!

I started to make Before (the line is lost) in my head in the spring of 2014, after watching Third Angel perform their show Cape Wrath in a minibus in Gateshead at GIFT Festival. 20 year old Holly said to herself – ‘I rather liked that, that show with one person where they told a lovely story in small space that really left me feeling something, I’d quite like to do that’. And so that summer I typed up some notes on my second-hand iPhone and emailed them to myself. They said:

‘A show
Cape Wrath, Alexander Kelly
Actions, Stimulus – mementos for story, a screen, video?
The Internet
FFs – feminism, queer representation, fun, creativity, fandom (friends!!)
Friendship, internet friendship (friends from around the world, a map)
Midnight in a bathroom in Canada
Text messages
Tags, texts
Words and memory and memories to be made
Theatre making and making a change and being a good person and struggling to be and do these things
How to help, can i help
Funny, touching, sad, TRUTHFUL

Actions, movements, setting, crowd, people who care?, GIFT
STORYTELLING , journey, cyclical, revisit themes, universal themes

Cosplay. Consent. Nerdom.’

I had never thought about making a show before. This show did not truly begin to come into being until I started my MA in Theatre and Performance in 2015, and suddenly had other great artists telling me how I might go about cobbling together a show of my own.

And, inevitably, not all of those notes made it into the show.

But a lot of them did.

In particular, the final 3.

Cosplay. Consent. Nerdom.

Before (the line is lost) is about cosplay, comic conventions, and consent. Both online and in reality.

Cosplay is an artform. You may very well be aware of it. It has wriggled its way into the mainstream over the past few years. It involves creating costumes to wear of your favourite characters, most often at Comic Conventions. You guys have one in London at the ExCel Centre: the MCM Expo. It lives its second life online – where huge communities, fan pages, and discussion boards exist. Where the photos from conventions are shared and talked about.

Cosplay is great. It’s a creative and fun hobby – it’s one of those hobbies that is perfect for escapism, friendship, community. It’s about being resourceful in the materials you source (costume making is £££!), being resilient in the face of poorly timed, last minute costume-making, and being playful when you’re out in the costume itself. For me, it was the only way to experience a convention. The stalls, vendors, special guests, merchandise were ace, but the real way to seal the deal was to come dressed up and ready for your photograph to be taken by fellow fans.

There’s nothing quite like being dressed head-to-toe in blue with a giant paper-maché globe on your head to portray Mr Meeseeks of Rick and Morty fame, and meeting a Mr Poopybutthole at the top of an escalator. Suddenly the acute lack of vision and spacial awareness become more than worth it for the excitable hellos, conversations, and photographs.

But, as with every facet of society, it has its problems.

Consent is a big one.

We’ve spoken a lot about consent over the past few months, a lot about #MeToo and supposedly-feminist celebrities not taking ‘no’ for an answer.

We’ve spoken about the need for conversation and the need to be listened to and understood.

I’m still not sure how well this has all sank in, to be honest. But I’m glad it happened, is happening.

It has been emotional and raw and difficult. But necessary.

I think this show is necessary. I think it says what I want to say about consent, about women’s bodies, about being a better person, a better human being.

I think it says a lot about what I want to say about being a ‘Nerd’, about using a label to excuse vicious, unacceptable, and damaging behaviour. About how stereotypes, and shows about fucking awful scientist-nerds being fucking awful people need to be called out and shut down.

Before (the line is lost) is a coming of age story. It’s about you, and it’s about me.

It’s about growing up on the internet. It’s about navigating a world that can seem big and loud and threatening and scary so much of the time, and coming out on the other side.

It is a story interwoven with autobiographical and verbatim materials. There are videos and interviews and some looped sounds. There are the voices of people that I love, that I look up to, that I care about. There is anger and love and hatred and hope.

There is a huge part of me in this show.

And there is a conversation to be had, about this show.

Probably in the bar afterwards.

I would love for you to be the person to have it.

Holly x


Image Credits: (c) Arran Cross and Fern Merrills