Festival explores experiences of women and war

 

POWERFUL MONTH-LONG, MULTI-ARTFORM FESTIVAL TO EXPLORE THE EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN AND WAR

JULY 4 – 31 2016

6 FREDERICKS PLACE | LONDON | EC2R 8AB

 Women and War is a month long festival examining the effect of warfare on women worldwide. Bringing together an extraordinary span of international work, and performers from all continents, the festival will showcase cutting-edge drama, comedy, dance, documentary film and photography, drawn from the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Iran, and Uzbekistan. Across the centuries, from the Crimean War, to WWII, through to the current conflict in Syria, Women in War tells the profoundly personal and yet universal stories of the role of women in war and the impact upon them during and after conflict, whether subjugated or subversive, victim or healer, protector or fighter. Opening on July 4th, the festival will be held at Frederick’s Place – a historic building in the heart of the City.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS

DRAMA, MUSIC AND DANCE

 THE MARVELLOUS ADVENTURES OF MARY SEACOLE: Cleo Sylvestre stars as the Jamaican-Scottish women who set up her own field hospital in the Crimean War and was voted greatest Black Briton in 2004

MUNOJAT: Uzbekistan’s Orzu Arts Music and Dance presents a show based on classic and folkloric songs and dances from all over Central Asia. East Turkistan born singer/performer Rahima Mahmut joins for one night only to perform additional work.

NEPENTHE: An intense one-women show written by Rachel Neuburger about Auschwitz’s notorious Block 24 brothel

VEILS: Award-winning playwright Tom Coash’s drama set against the dawning of the Arab Spring in Egypt

FILM

 THIS IS EXILE: A screening of Emmy Award-winning director Mani’s documentary which follows child refugees from Syria into Lebanon. Produced by Julia Kirby Smith and Sian Kevill (the first female producer of Newsnight)

THE HEART OF AUSCHWITZ: A filmmaker goes on a search to discover how a beautiful handmade birthday book came to be within the walls of a concentration camp, who its makers were, and how it came to survive the horrors of war.

PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITIONS BY:

 KEYMEA YAZDANIAN: An intimate look at women in private spaces in Iran

ALISON BASKERVILLE: Alison has focussed on the impact of conflict on those working and living in various areas of conflict around the world, including Afghanistan, Mali, Israel and Gaza

 

LITERATURE

 HEIDI KINGSTONE – DISPATCHES FROM THE KABUL CAFÉ: Actor read excerpts from the acclaimed foreign correspondent’s memoir about her extraordinary experiences in Afghanistan between 2007 -2011 followed by an ‘In Conversation With’ session. This date is in partnership with the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group, who present music and talks by Afghan women about their experiences in war torn Afghanistan and coming to Britain as refugees.

CHARITY PANEL DISCUSSION

Supporting the work of the charity Women for Refugee Women (WRW), female refugees from around the world will perform the poem Set Her Free. The performance will be followed by a discussion led by the performers. All proceeds raised will be donated.

Festival Director and Executive Producer Sarah Berger said: War has changed, but its effect on generations of women hasn’t. I wanted to use all kinds of art to give a voice to and examine the experience of women in war zones and to look not just at what happens to them during conflict but to tell the stories of their lives both before and after it. Women are so often betrayed as victims, but time and again it is them who build a new life out of the ashes. Women demonstrate huge resourcefulness, humour and courage in the face of sometimes horrifying adversity, and it feels like the right time to tell some of these stories.”

Rachel Neuburger, Festival Producer continued “The response to this festival has been astounding, both in artists wanting to be involved and in interest from the public. While the subject matter of women and war is not something that has been ignored, the breadth of experience being represented is impressive in its own right.”

Supporter, actress Imogen Stubbs added: “This is a bold, important idea. Now, more than ever, we need to raise our voices as artists to make sure that women across the world feel both heard and supported.”

2016 FESTIVAL PROGRAMME

DRAMA, COMEDY, MUSIC AND DANCE

 ARMY B.R.A.T.: With Robin Galloway | Directed by Eliza Baldi (Drama)

One Daughter’s Legacy of a Childhood Inside the Fortress

Told through the eyes of a female child growing up in a military household, ARMY B.R.A.T. takes you on an intimate journey across continents, battlefields and generations.

 

BY MY STRENGTH: Written by Laura Stevens | Directed by Charlotte Peters | Produced by Claire Evans (Drama)

Kat wanted to belong, so she joined the Army.

After all, it is the ultimate test of who you are and what you stand for … Only in Afghanistan, it’s not always that simple. Written by Bruntwood Playwriting Award finalist, Laura Stevens, this powerful new piece explores what it means to fight for your country in today’s world.

 

FACE THE CAMERA AND SMILE: Written by Dan Horrigan (Drama)

Face The Camera and Smile is a play about consent seen from the perspective of four characters united by conflict.

It is told through the actions of: a female photojournalist; the soldier she was embedded within Iraq; an actress reconstructing the story for a film; and the wife who wants that story to honour her sacrifices

 

GIDIONS KNOT: Written by Johanna Adams | Directed by Mathew Hahn (Drama)

A taught two hander examining fears around the government’s agenda to ‘safeguard’ against terrorism in schools, teacher and parental responsibility and above all freedom.

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INVISIBLE WOMEN: Written and performed by Kate Cooke (Comedy)

A repressed Housewife becomes a spy for the resistance in WW11.

A thrilling tale of derring-do in WW11. Repressed housewife, Mrs Bishop, is just the person to help the Resistance. Kate Cook plays everyone from 15 year old Cecily, the swing dancing dreamer, to sadistic, Herr Von Schnerkel, a general of Hitler’s Gestapo. 

MUNOJAT: Produced by Orzu Arts Music and Dance (Music and Dance)

There is nothing worse than for a mother to lose her child to war.

This show is designed and directed by Yuldosh Juraboev who also appears in this play as Earth, Tulganays husband, her son, and men at war. Guljahon Baiz as Tulganay and she arranged the entire music for this show, Guljahon is an actor and musician, singer and makom specialist from Uzbekistan.

As part of Orzu Arts, Music and Dance’s festival programme, Rahima Mahmut appears for one performance only – Sunday July 24th at 7pm. Mahmut, is an ethnic Uyghur, born in Ghulja city, East Turkistan, which is currently occupied by China.

NEPENTHE: Written by Rachel Neuburger | Directed by Miriam Ibrahim with Zoe Hutmacher. (Drama)

Should one remember or forget? An intense one-woman show about Auschwitz’s notorious Block 24 brothel.

Hollywood 1961, we are led on a journey by Esthie, the beautiful 31 year old wife of a movie studio head, who is also a German political Holocaust survivor. When she finds out that a film is being made, based on what is now considered pornographic novel full of lies about the infamous Block 24 Auschwitz brothel, she begins a mission to put a stop to it.

ROSAURA: Devised and performed by Teatro Inverso Paula Rodriguez and Sandra Arpa (Drama)

Rosaura is a two woman show based on the play ‘Life is a Dream’ by Calderón de la Barca.

The piece is a new and vibrant interpretation of this Spanish Golden Age Classic. The story unfolds from the point of view of its main female character, Rosaura, one of the strongest characters in the history of theatre. The last two performances will be in Spanish.

 

SHRAPNEL: An evening featuring pieces by DHW Mildon and Chris Fogg (Drama)

A collection of short pieces including the story of a woman whose friend was tarred and feathered as a French collaborator in world war two; an explosive encounter between a war photographer and a woman in a hotel room, a female mortician getting ready for a date in Camp Sebastian, a mother whose son was killed in the final minutes of WW1 seeking solace from a psychic. In addition there is the dramatic poem Posting to Iraq by Chris Fogg – which tells the tale of Poppy, a young nurse, who breaks off her engagement with a British soldier in Iraq who is subsequently killed in action. Posting to Iraq explores the roads not taken, without sentiment or regret, in a tone whose surface ordinariness belies its heroine’s courage.

THE MARVELLOUS ADVENTURES OF MARY SEACOLE: Directed by Sarah Berger|Starring Cleo Sylvestre (Drama)

The fascinating story of the Jamaican-Scottish woman who braved the Crimean War to tend to wounded soldiers.

Told in her own words, the story of a truly exceptional woman, who went to be voted the greatest black Briton in 2004. This production will be transferring to C Venues at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

THE MASKS OF APHRA BEHN: Written and performed by Claire Louise Amais and directed by Pradeep Jey (Drama)

The Masks of Aphra Behn tells the remarkable story of the world’s first professional female writer and her experiences as a spy for King Charles II in the Dutch Wars.

When a performance of her most successful play, The Rover, is cancelled, Aphra Behn herself takes to the stage to recount her extraordinary adventures in Antwerp and the West Indies. Complete with excerpts from her letters, poetry and plays this new one-woman show throws light on a truly unique personality.

VALIANT: Adapted for the stage by Lanna Jofffrey | Based upon the book Valiant Women in Exile by Sally Hayton-Keeva | Directed by Alexandra Renzetti (Drama)

Valiant chronicles a century of war seen through the eyes of women from across the globe.

Meet thirteen women who have fought in, struggle through and survived conflict.

VEILS: Written by Tom Coash | Directed by Pamela Schermann (Drama)

Set against the backdrop of the dawning of the Arab Spring in Egypt.

Two young Muslim girls – one Egyptian, one American – examine their cultural differences and find an unexpected friendship.

WAR BABIES: Written and directed by Carol Allen (Drama)

Kate is English. Louise is French. They were both born in World War two.

Their story embraces war and peace, life and death, love – and theatre.

WAR SONGS: Songs devised and performed by Ros Shelley and Gavin Roberts |Directed by Pip Broughton (Music and Drama)

Music poetry and verbatim pieces from across the centuries about women and war.

WE’LL MEET AGAIN: Written and performed by Katy Baker Musical (Drama)

A look at the lives of some of the fabulous women who have entertained our troops.

PHOTOGRAPHY

AN EXHIBITION OF PHOTOGRAPHS BY KEYMEA YAZDANIAN

An intimate look at women in private spaces in Iran.

Looking at the vast array of female sensibility that lies beneath the surface and a celebration of the strength of women in areas such as Iran these images celebrate Iranian women and the tenacity and defiance they show in molding themselves and their identity in a country that marginalizes them. www.keymeayazdanian.com

AN EXHIBITION OF PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALISON BASKERVILLE

Alison Baskerville (b.1974) is a British documentary photographer. Along with her work in conflict she also investigates social and domestic issues both abroad and in the UK.  Her work has been published by the Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Mirror and BBC online Features. She has also completed commissions for Plan International, Care International and the Royal British Legion.
Her work looking at the role of female British soldiers on the front line in Afghanistan has been exhibited in the Oxo Gallery in London. www.alisonbaskerville.co.uk

DOCUMENTARY

THIS IS EXILE: Powerful documentary film that following child refugees from Syria into Lebanon. 

Produced by Make World Media Productions: Sian Kevill and Julia Kirby Smith | Directed by the Emmy-award winning director Mani. This is Exile is an extraordinary, intimate portrait of child refugees forced to flee from the violence of Syria’s civil war to neighbouring Lebanon, filmed over a year. Their testimony in this film is a beautifully crafted microcosm of the human cost of the ongoing civil war in Syria that has forced over 4.5 million people to flee; half of whom are children.  There is still no end to the war in sight.

The documentary is highly topical but it is also a timeless creation that engages with the essence of what it is to be exiled from your home and the normality of life. With its truly poetic visual style there is space for the mind to wander through the film’s locations and to understand the profoundly disturbing truth that these children are unlikely to see their homeland again until adulthood. The film was the International Jury Award Winner (Documentary) at the International Human Rights Film Festival, Glasgow and the Amnesty International Award Winner at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

 

THE HEART OF AUSCHWITZ: It sits like a jewel in a museum showcase, a cloth-and-paper valentine, created in the midst of horror.

 

The Heart of Auschwitz is no bigger than a butterfly. It looks as fragile as one, too. Yet, this tiny artefact rises on a pedestal like a testament to the strength of human resistance. Signed by 19 young women at the infamous Nazi concentration camp, it was smuggled out by a 20th woman who brought it with her to Canada. Now the story of the heart, and the prisoners who risked their lives to make it, have been brought together in a Quebec documentary film. The memento is a heart-shaped autograph book. Inside, on pages that open origami-like, are the birthday wishes of the women, who were slave labourers together inside the camp. At great personal risk, they gave it to a Polish inmate named Fania on her 20th birthday. See trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiEUt5LlnTY

 

EVERYTHING IS ORDAINED: A Holocaust Survivor’s Indefatigable Spirit

In 1940, Bettine Le Beau was 8 years old when she was taken to a concentration camp in France. When a stranger came into the camp in the middle of the night and said she could save 10 children, Le Beau’s mother didn’t hesitate to hand her over. For the remainder of the war, Le Beau lived in hiding in Switzerland, separated from the rest of her family. Filmmakers Andrew Griffin and Martin O’Neill collaborated to bring to life her animated memories of escape and reconciliation. Le Beau went on to have a successful acting career, and in September of 2015, she passed away at the age of 83. This film was commissioned for the Holocaust Memorial Memory Makers Project.

LITERATURE

Heidi Kingstone is a leading foreign correspondent and has written for some of the world’s foremost publications, covering stories on human rights issues, conflict and politics and reporting from places as diverse as Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Mali, Darfur and the Middle East. Her first book, Dispatches from the Kabul Café, published by Advance Editions (2014) is a memoir of her time reporting from Afghanistan over a four year period, from 2007-2011. There will be actor read excerpts from her book, followed by an ‘In Conversation With’ session. www.heidikingstone.com.

This date is presented in association with the British and Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG), a unique advocacy and networking agency which supports humanitarian and development programmes in Afghanistan. BAAG aims to ensure that Afghan voices are heard at national and international level. Music and talks from Afghan women will be presented, discussing, in their own words, both their experiences in Afghanistan, and those of having travelled to the UK as refugees. www.baag.org.uk

ADDITIONAL EVENTS

WOMEN FOR REFUGEE WOMEN (WRW) – PERFORMANCE AND POST-SHOW DISCUSSION

Women for Refugee Women (WRW) is a small charity that supports women who claim asylum in the UK, by empowering them to tell their stories and campaigning for a fairer asylum process. WRW supports two grassroots groups, the London Refugee Women’s Forum and Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) London, and works through the arts, media, and public events to tell women’s stories, influence MPs, and effect policy change. The Set Her Free poem, written and performed by members of the London Refugee Women’s Forum and WAST London, powerfully explores the experiences of refugee women who come to the UK seeking sanctuary from conflict and persecution. A post-performance discussion will be led by the performers, from all over the world, and charity and all proceeds will be donated to WRW.

OTHER EVENTS

There will also be a Bechdel Theatre discussion, exploring the politically relevant topic of the under-representation of women on stage after the performance of SHRAPNEL on Friday 8th July as well as a writing master class by VEILS author Tom Coash and additional panels across the festival.

Tickets all shows £12 Mon –Thu, £15 Fri –Sun. Early bird tickets are priced £10 and £13 respectively. For times and dates and to purchase tickets, please visit: buytickets.at/thesoandsoartsclub

 WOMEN AND WAR

ANY WAR | ANY COUNTRY | ANY PERIOD OF HISTORY

For more information, images and interview opportunities, please contact Target Live:

Rebecca Byers | rebecca.byers@target-live.co.uk | 020 3372 0962 David Bloom | david.bloom@target-live.co.uk

 

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