Every year, PUSH festival celebrates some of the most vibrant and pioneering early careers artists making work in the North West that provokes, excites and engages audiences. A jam-packed festival of theatre, film and live art, as well as opportunities for creatives to meet industry professionals, share ideas and develop their skills, it’s not one to be missed.
As part of the festival, each year our Talent Development team opens up applications to support two companies – with funding, space, mentoring and marketing – to develop and present a new show as part of the festival. Our team painstakingly whittled down nearly 100 applications to just 2 productions:
Sound Cistem by Plaster Cast Theatre
Oreo by Tania Camara
We spoke to the artists involved to delve deeper into their shows, artistic process and what inspires them.
In one sentence – Who are you?
P/C – We are Plaster Cast Theatre, a collective of creatives from Manchester, who believe physical theatre and dance can be a fun and effective way of engaging audience with challenging subject matter.
Tania – I am the keeper of stories. I am the storyteller of my family. I like to ask difficult questions.
Dance […] seemed very appropriate to discuss how trans people modify our movements to be safe in public spaces – Plaster Cast
What’s your show about?
P/C – The show, besides being a celebration of queer bodies, also can be seen as a discussion on how our bodies are policed right down to the way we move. Dance is a very interesting medium when talking about gender. It has always been a gendered form, such as the male always leading in ball room. Even when we watched music videos, there is a marked difference between what is considered acceptably sexy, or appealing, according to the gender of the artist. Dance therefore seemed very appropriate to discuss how trans people modify our movements to be safe in public spaces.
Tania – Oreo is a show about discovering myself and who I am – stripping back the layers of myself that have been imposed on by a racialised society. Through ‘Oreo’ I explore the masks we wear in order to survive in a climate of systemic racism. I use the show to question “how can I be truly authentic to my identity when we live in a world filled with racial micro-aggressions?”. I am trying to uncover my authentic voice and self.
What’s the most exciting discovery you’ve made in the process of making this show?
P/C – That we can both Dip! Or as its known more commonly known- death drop. As well as just generally, discovering how much we can withstand in terms of exhaustion! The show is extremely tiring, so our stamina levels have gone through the roof. Unfortunately, we’re just as inflexible as when we’re started.
At the crux of it, I’m interrogating my identity and how others perceive my identity and the identities of people like me – and that’s an ongoing process of discovery – Tania Camara
Tania – The project has evolved over time and continues to grow as I grow as an individual and artist. Through the development of Oreo I have been able to continually explore and delve deeper into the difficult conversations around colourism and the complexities of what it means to be black in Great Britain. What’s really exciting about making the show is the challenge of telling uncomfortable stories and asking questions that can’t be easily answered. At the crux of it, I’m interrogating my identity and how others perceive my identity and the identities of people like me – and that’s an ongoing process of discovery.
In a time when transphobia is constantly being published in the mainstream media, and TERFs and other groups are doing their best to make our lives worse, we need a space to heal a little bit – Plaster Cast
Why make this show now?
P/C – If we can make even one trans person feel a sense of catharsis, then we feel we are putting some good into the world. In a time when transphobia is constantly being published in the mainstream media, and TERFs and other groups are doing their best to make our lives worse, we need a space to heal a little bit. And if we can make one cis person rethink the way they treat trans people, even if they consider themselves an ally, then that has achieved our mission too. We need as many people working for trans rights as possible, because it takes a lot of energy to protect ourselves in this climate: and we are tired.
Tania – I wanted to make this work now because I want to have a space that opens a conversation about race relations in this hostile time of Brexit. I think this work is urgent because it speaks about the mask, who has a voice and who can speak and how the notion of speaking and masking one’s self is linked to the idea of self-hatred and whiteness. Lastly, it is fundamentally about healing practices – self-love plays a major role in the rebuilding of communities and decolonising oneself.
Who inspires you/your work?
P/C – Well, for the choreography- mainly videos of the Spice Girls on YouTube. But theatre-makers that have made work that have really invigorated our show have been Travis Alabanza, Scottee and RashDash. As well, all the other trans and non-binary people who are close to us in our lives.
Tania – My family members are the ones that inspire me to make work, while I listen to stories about their lived experiences and everything they had to go through so that I could have the choice to be an artist.
Sound Cistem is showing from Mon 20 – Wed 22 Jan, and Oreo is showing from Thu 23 – Sat 25 Jan, with a Q&A accompanying the performance on the 25 Jan.
You can find further information on the full programme of events on our PUSH Festival 2020 page.
Tania Camara, ‘Me, myself and my Oreos’, SPILL Festival of Performance 2016, produced by Pacitti Company. Photo by Guido Mencari
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