Women writers take centre stage at Alphabetti

Published: 5 June 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

New writing company Coracle (Suffragette, Overdue, Trajectory) will focus on female writers and artists at Alphabetti later this month.

Down to Zero, written by Lizi Patch (one of the contributors to Suffragette), focuses on a character, Steph, who is going through the menopause, dealing with her own fears and facing her past and future. Directed by Matt Jamie, co-artistic of Coracle, with Arabella Arnott (Overdue), Brian Lonsdale (My Romantic History at Live Theatre, joint Performing artist of the Year in the Journal Culture Awards 2019 and Best Actor in the BTG's NE Best of... in 2018), and Samantha Neale (Iris at Live Theatre and The Dirty Flea-Bitten Scrounging Bastard for Cloud Nine), and with design by Molly Barrett.

“Work by women playwrights made up only 8% of staged productions in 2014,” said Matt Jamie, “and the 2019 season at the National Theatre was recently under fire for only featuring male writers and directors. Playwright Zinnie Harris has said, ‘it is somehow harder for people to embrace a play written by a women, whatever its quality...’

“Coracle's work has always provided a platform for work by women, and, for this production, we have chosen to curate a selection of work by women aged over 40—a group particularly underrepresented in the world of theatre both on and off stage.

“Local artists Allison Davies (writer), Claire Tustin (actor, musician), Karen Traynor (director), Degna Stone (poet) and Beccy Owen (musician, theatre-maker) have created short 'response pieces', picking up some of the themes and ideas from Lizi's play.”

Down to Zero runs at Alphabetti from Tuesday 18 to Saturday 29 June (not Sundays or Mondays) at 7:30PM and lasts for approximately 60 minutes. All tickets are Pay What You Decide and the show is suitable for ages 14+.

The response pieces will be performed, after Down to Zero, as follows:

On 18, 19, 26 and 28 June

The Sky Sings written by Allison Davies performed by Claire Tustin, directed by Karen Traynor

Life is a circle, and we go spinning and spinning and spinning. Jem tells her story, as her hands bleed, her heart aches and she fights to hold on to the fragments of her life. If only she could hear the sky singing above her... A short play with music.

On 20, 21, 25 and 27 June

A double bill:

Probably written and performed by poet Degna Stone

Halfway through life and the answer to most questions always seems to be the same.

Should I stop drinking through the week? Will I feel better if I exercise? Is the planet really f@*ked...? Maybe I'm asking the wrong questions.

Fanny Magnet written and performed by musician and theatre-maker Beccy Owen

Fanny Magnet is "an uplifting and wry imagining of what it would be like if women didn't have to endure the invisibility of a 'civilised' menopause". In this fantasy, all menopausal women across the world—known as The Ones Who Are All—are invited to spend time in their local Sanctuary of Chaos and Peace.