"We are so excited and no, we won't calm down about it!"
There is something very frustrating about having to listen in great detail to your friend describe a brilliant show that you haven’t seen. More often than not, it doesn’t sound brilliant at all. Your friend can try all they like, but it just won’t be anywhere near as satisfying as experiencing the real thing. Live. In the theatre. Because, it’s very difficult to encapsulate all that is brilliant about it in the live moment: the lights, the space, the rest of the audience, the really excellent subtle bits, the really obvious wrong bits etc etc. So, this blog is a plea for you to BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW for Calm Down Dear, 2022 because there are some really great shows that we predict will be talked about for a long time to come. And why should you listen to us?
Well, there are a few things you need to know about Figs in Wigs:
i) We like making shows.
B) We really like watching shows.
3) We really really like odd numbers (better dance routine formations).
So, when CPT invited us to join the panel to co-curate the NINTH edition of Calm Down Dear, we knew it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. It ticked all the boxes. How?
i) We performed our graduate show, We, Object at the first EVER Calm Down Dear Festival back in 2013. The sharing offered us an opportunity to further explore our idea and take risks in innovative ways that we might not elsewhere, safe in the knowledge that we were presenting to our peers and a wider network of artists working within similar contexts (and concepts) to us. There was a freedom and an understanding that this was a space in which to experiment. The show is about us and objects (‘we, object’), everyday sexism and the objectification of women (‘We? Objects?!’), our objectification to the objectification of women (we object!), and also small objects (wee object). The piece is a battle between a politically driven show responding to the cultural climate we found ourselves in as emerging practitioners, and a visual spectacle of tiny proportions.
There is a gameshow scene in the show, titled ‘Peggy Who’, in which we air the laundry of various famous ‘Peggy’s through the ages. The game show eventually breaks down when Sue Fig pulls out Peggy Patch’s knickers and hangs them up to dry. The rest of us see that she has undermined this provoking scene about the fetishization of women’s underwear, by making small of the matter and bringing out a tiny pair of pants. She almost gets away with it, arguing that Peggy Patch is of a smaller frame, until we notice that she has also used MINIATURE PEGS to hang the underwear up with. Once again we have got hung up on the small things, focussing on the micro, blindly stumbling through the bigger picture. This was actually the general gist of the whole show. On the occasion that we presented We, Object at Calm Down Dear, we decided to incorporate a new element into this riveting scene. Whilst pegging out the ‘Peggy’s knickers, we broke into singing Fever by Peggy Lee, acapella, as her slinky underpants were pulled from the wash bag and hung out to dry. In a sort of barbershop quartet style, with morchestra (mouth-orchestra) accompaniment. Silence slumped upon the audience, like a spare piece of theatre blacks hastily discarded in the final moments of a tech rehearsal. It definitely felt risky and avant garde, however not necessarily in a good way. But! We tried it. We did it and that was all that mattered. And immediately after that sharing we immediately took it out again and put it straight in the bin. Our lived experience of bringing a show to Calm Down Dear, all those moons ago, and leaning into the (ironic) risk safety-net to further understand our limits was a valuable lesson, a rite of passage, and a recommended experience for any emerging practitioner. It was a memorable, one-off, one-of-a-kind, ‘you had to be there’ kinda show, the sort from which character is built and an understanding of your practice is developed. It is from this memory and context that we eagerly read the submissions this year, looking for other artists who might also enjoy such an offer to showcase, experiment, embrace the live, take chances to challenge themselves and their audiences.
B) the task at hand was to read all of the amazing submissions and design a programme of work across the board which responds to the topic of feminism. As a company we are really excited about form and content. We like performance that is ‘not-theatre’, work which dares to have the audacity to call itself theatre. (*see description of ‘Peggy Who’ above as an example). So you won’t find any straight-down-the-middle plays in this line up, but you will find a range of other really interesting forms and approaches: from off-site occurrences, to durational performance, to subversive comedy and alt-cabaret, to dance, to discursive events. The process of selection was far more enjoyable and difficult than we thought it might be. Because it was impossible to pick! But we had to. So, we did. And we are really excited to see all the work that is programmed.
Thirdly, 9 is an odd number. 8 and 10 are not. So, this is the best year for us to do it.
Cos next year we definitely wouldn’t enjoy it. And the year after that we might all be dead.
But anyway, blah blah blah, this festival isn’t all about us and we shall not be performing. So actually our 1st point has nothing to do with why we wanted to co-curate this festival, it was just an excuse to talk about ourselves. BUT IT ISN’T ABOUT US. It’s about these other amazing artists who will be performing at this, the 9th edition of Calm Down Dear Festival. We absolutely cannot wait to see what they bring. Make sure you buy your tickets! See you there xxxxx