Guest blog: Louise Orwin

Ahead of Oh Yes Oh No opening in 12 days time, Louise talks to us about how she’s feeling. Find out more about the show and book here, and browse the full programme for Hotbed, our festival of sex here.



ICYMI I’m making a show about sex. And this might not be revelation to many people (or even uncommon), but S-E-X is all I can think about. Write about. Talk about. It also feels like it’s all I read about at the moment. But that might just be because I’ve got my sex-tinted goggles on. [This happens to everyone, right? That thing where you start working on a particular topic and then suddenly its popping up everywhere, making you feel like the universe is trying to remind you you’re on the right path or something… right?… RIGHT?!]

So. Oh Yes Oh No opens in exactly 12 days. How does this make me feel?

  • Vulnerable. It feels like I’m about to ask hundreds of strangers to read my teenage diary (and then get a few of them to review it… Just. Why.)
  • Excited. Sometimes it feels like this might be the most important piece of work I’ve made to date. (But this leads nicely on to number 3…)
  • Scared. Exactly because this show feels so important to me (politically, emotionally, artisitically), I’m also terrified that it wont go down well / my ideas wont be read in the way I’d like them to be read / that the weight of its importance will make the show buckle under itself, and that actually it won’t prove to be a valuable exercise in the slightest. But I guess that’s what it means to be an artist; inevitably there will always be a point at which you have to hand your ideas over to other people and let them make of them what they will.
  • Relieved. This show has been inside my head for a long time now. It feels like I’ve just taken a set of tweezers to a splinter that’s been stuck in my finger (probably on my writing hand, to improve this metaphor), and has been annoying me, pricking me, getting in the way of me getting other stuff done, being obstinate, refusing to budge with its constant tingly reminder of its presence (how’s this metaphor going for you?)… but I’m winning. Because, tweezers in hand, its on it way out.
  • Anxious. Have we mentioned PRESS NIGHT yet?
  • Triggered. Or wondering about trigger-warnings in general. When sex is your topic, how explicit is too explicit? Where is the line between interesting, candid work and Sensationalist-Saucy-Titillation. And what is most helpful to the show? One of the things the show attempts to handle is how we speak about sex (or don’t speak about it, for that matter) in every day life- so, how to speak about it in a way that is candid and open, but not so brazen its turns my audience off? And whilst we’re on the topic, how do I prep an audience for a show that aims to dig into sexual territory which is so often left out of the conversation? To my mind, any conversation about female sexuality, must inevitably go hand in hand with a conversation about sexual violence and rape culture. How to warn an audience about this, but also not scare them?
  • In two minds. As with a lot of my work, this show deals with ambiguity as an artistic device. This is always important to me when making political work, because I am of the school of thinking that you should never treat your audience like idiots. I’m not into lecturing anyone on ideas or problems that I have ‘The Answer’ to (SPOILER ALERT: no one has ‘The Answer’ ever). I’m here to shed light on difficult questions, and taboo topics that I feel are under-explored in everyday life. Oh Yes Oh No, tackles what I have found to be a very common problem, both amongst men and women: what happens when you have sexual fantasies that are at odds with your politics? The show will make this question live, and will ask my audiences to consider their own lives and opinions. It might hint at ways to better understand this question, or our own thinking, but it will never spoon-feed you a ‘solution’. Because then I’d just be a liar, as well as a performer. And that is, surely, a terrible combination.
  • Quiet. I’m currently in the last throes of making this show. This last week or so of tweaking, minor re-writes, costume-buying, meetings with producers, production teams and venue technicians is always very full on, and that makes me quiet. I’m quietly working in a very focused way, I’m quietly concentrating on the task in hand, I’m quietly screaming in terror inside. I’ll admit this doesn’t make me the best company right now, and its probably not great timing because this tends to be the period of time where people want to talk to you about the work (ergo, this blog), or long lost friends come out of the woodwork telling you they’ve booked tickets to the preview night. Its not great timing all round really, but I suppose that’s the nature of the beast. To conclude: I apologise in advance to anyone who might have to interact with me at any point between now and opening night.
  • Excited (again). Because I know it wont be long until I look out into the auditorium and see the faces of the amazing women I worked with during the Oh Yes Oh No workshop weekends, during the research period for the show. These workshops were absolutely invaluable to me, and felt really necessary both for me and my participants in creating a space for women to speak about sex in a way that feels impossible in wider society. Every time I feel nervous about the show, I think back to how amazing it felt to be surrounded by women in those spaces and I feel a little bit better. Shout out to Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Live Art Development Agency and Live Art Bistro for supporting these workshops. For those interested in potentially taking part in future, there will be more… Keep your ears to the ground…
  • Proud. The journey I’ve been on whilst making this show has made me cross paths with some of the bravest, most inspiring women I’ve ever come across. It’s not been an easy journey by any means, but that so many women wanted to come forward and be part of the project has made me feel really very privileged, and its been an honour to be able to include their voices in the work. I hope they’ll feel proud of themselves when they come and see the work, and I hope you’ll feel proud and in awe of them too.

So that’s how I’m feeling. How about you?

I’ll conclude with the words of the late, great Joan Rivers:

‘I don’t know what the question is, but sex is definitely the answer.’