18 Jun 2022

Marisa Carnesky

What happens when the Showgirl grows up?

A spectacular new show from Olivier award winning performance maker Marisa Carnesky, Showwomen is a feminist rewrite: the untold herstory of British working-class entertainment from immigrant, queer, activist and occult perspectives.

1940’s body magic star Koringa, 1930’s pioneer clown Lulu Adams, 1920’s female dare-devil Marjorie Dare and 1880’s teeth hanging aerialist superstar Miss La La are the inspiration to explore lesser-known stories of extraordinary women in variety performance from a century ago. Showwomen compares them to the lived experiences of exceptional performers today.

Marisa narrates alongside guest stars hairhanger/comedienne Fancy Chance, sword and spoken word artist Livia Kojo Alour and physical and fire performer Lucifire, interweaving live action, in depth interviews and archival footage to create a dreamlike landscape mixing death defying stunts, taboo breaking acts, political resistance and secret backstage rituals.

The show asks why and how women perform dangerous and taboo acts and explores the legacy of forgotten and marginalised British entertainers.

It looks at the collective power of women working together and the timeless representations of women performers as part animal hybrids. Expect witchy goings-on in full leopard print, naked crocodile women scaling walls, ladders of swords, live hair hanging, never-ending pom poms and ectoplasmic clowns, Showwomen channels entertainment heritage to create visons of matriarchal performance futures.

Featuring a specially commissioned soundtrack by James Johnston (Gallon Drunk, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey), Kath Warg (Snowpony, Stereolab) and Dave Knight (Danielle Dax, Unicazurn), fusing archival sound material with contemporary compositions. Other collaborators include live artist Kira O’Reilly (dramaturgy), Rosie Powell (film), Emma Henderson (lighting) and Imani Qamar (Set).

Showwomen will change the way you understand women in showbusiness – forever.

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