Guest Blog: London Baby! by Gracefool Collective

Gracefool Collective are hitting the road and performing three preview nights of This Really Is Too Much before they head to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. Have a read of what the show is all about and then book your tickets here!

So we’re on the road again – though it’s just a little short one his time – heading to London and Camden People’s Theatre on 27-28 May, after performing on our home turf Leeds on the 26th. I’m sure you all have heard by now, but we’ll be heading to Edinburgh in August to do a FULL RUN AT THE FRINGE! For hardcore fans it is essential to see one of three exclusive previews though, I should think.

So the question all of you who haven’t seen the piece will want the answer to is naturally: What is the show about?

Well, I wish I had a great elevator pitch for the piece that summed it up in one brilliant sentence (as part of the marketing team, I really should have worked this one out by now…) but I always find that the nature of the piece – multi-layered and non-linear, dealing with themes of invisible structures and oppressions – makes it hard to pin down.

It’s a show about women and gender and stereotypes. It’s also about power dynamics, structures, norms and The Patriarchy. It features dancing and speaking and dark comedy and banging tunes. It’s about what we are supposed to be like and what we would maybe like to be like – and the tension between the two. Important components include iceberg lettuce, water, moisturiser and cleaning spray.

It didn’t start off as a piece about women. When we started creating the piece we thought it was gonna be about men, power and suits and I wrote what I thought was a brilliant application featuring a picture of zebras (don’t ask). Rachel edited them out. Then we started doing some actual studio based research and we thought that the piece was gonna be less about suits and more about clothes and how you dress your identity. It was all gonna take place in a giant wardrobe and early brilliant, later on discarded ideas included bald-caps, roller-blades and a spandex unitard bought off e-bay with a print of a suit on the front (think blue man group, or Cunningham, but with a cartoon tie on the front). We also did a lot of shuffling around each other, singing Queen and taking hats on and off and there was a low-point where we created a whole sequence with a scarf and then realised we’d just copied it from Ultima Vez. Except we’re nothing like Ultima Vez.

A changing point was having mentoring with Charlotte Vincent, who challenged us to put our politics into our work – something we had never done before. A lot of the material we create takes inspiration from everyday incidents that we think are funny. Often, they become even more funny (or weird) when you take them out of context and put them on stage. Like women in advertising, for example. Not many people bat an eyelid about the bikini-clad women plastered onto billboards around town, but an actual, real-life woman who puts her bum in your face in a crammed studio theatre whilst scrubbing the floor is different. Many are the men who have looked slightly uncomfortable at that part.

We’re super excited to come to Camden People’s Theatre and put our bums in your faces. We hope you’ll be there to support us in this. | @gracefoolC