Splintered @ Edfringe 2019

lagahoo productions (New Diorama Graduate Company 2019/20 & Soho Theatre Young Company) is proud to present SPLINTERED, a theatre-cabaret celebrating queerness in the Caribbean, at Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019. It runs from 2nd – 25th August, with previews on 31st July & 1st August. London previews will be performed at the CLF Art Café and Bunker Theatre on 25th & 28th July, respectively.

What you are about to witness, they-dies and gentle-them, is a cabaret of truths. This is a show about Caribbean people being queer. In our experience, it is damned hard.”

SPLINTERED is a theatre-cabaret of rebellion and empowerment, celebrating queerness in the Caribbean. A show about and by Caribbean womxn, join us for a night of carnival and liberation – “come free up yuhself!” Developed from interviews with queer womxn from Trinidad & Tobago, SPLINTERED shatters traditional theatre structures with an exhilarating blend of lip sync, movement, dialogue, drag and carnival.

Developed from interviews with queer womxn from Trinidad & Tobago, SPLINTERED shatters traditional theatre structures with an exhilarating blend of lip sync, movement, dialogue, drag and carnival.

What was the process that led to these interviews, and what makes this a good starting point for the production?

I mean, it was quite simple really. I wanted to hear about other people’s experiences, I wanted to learn about queerness in the Caribbean. It came to a head in 2018, when Trinidad and Tobago had its first Pride and I saw the sheer amount of queer people, coming out from the woodwork and celebrating and rebelling – it was fantastic. Frankly, I just wanted to speak to people and see what they had to say. In the process of that, I learned that so much of the queer experience is shared and, unfortunately discovered that trauma around coming out was universal. So yeah, by talking to people and reading more and thinking a lot, I wanted to create a show that separated the trauma from queerness. I approached the process by simply trying to answer this question: “How can we celebrate queerness without trauma?”. It’s been hard.

At what point did you decide on this ‘mixed’ form of dramaturgy, with cabaret and carnival elements?

Oh, at the very beginning. I spent my Master’s studying the inherent colonialism of the 5-act structure and of course, growing up in Trinidad, doing Trinidadian theatre, everything is a rebellion, everything is a carnival. I am quite uninterested (at this point) of making work that isn’t trying to challenge how theatre is “usually” done on the West End or whatever. I’m kind of bored of the structure that is, setting + build up + one singular climax + quick resolution; it’s phallic and predictable. In the past year I realized that I enjoyed 3/10 plays I’d go to see, but 10/10 cabarets and concerts and the reason was simple, the inclusion of the audience and multiple stories, multiple climaxes – it’s just more dynamic.. I just feel that the theatre I’m interested in, is theatre that is communal, theatre that an audience is meant to feel a part of. And is there a better theatre of rebellion than carnival? No.

Artistic Director of lagahoo Emily Aboud comments: “SPLINTERED is the show I needed to see growing up, the show that would certainly be banned back home, and the show that celebrates the people whose very existence is an act of rebellion.’

From this, I am assuming that you believe that theatre can make social changes, or at least have an impact. How do you feel that theatre can be effective as a way of engaging with issues?

Apart from the very classic, always relevant answer – “representation matters” (but of course it does, we need to see ourselves reflected in our art, duh) – I struggle to think of an answer to this question that we’ve not heard before. Of course theatre can make social changes; most resistance movements began in cabaret bars – queer people (or anyone not strictly part of the racist hetero-patriarchy, depending on the time) have always been the, I guess, spark for social change, and it’s always the art that begins the movement, then policy (hopefully) kicks in. Honestly, if we make 5 people feel represented onstage, that’s enough for me, that’s a change enough for me. Society currently promotes a racist structure, a homophobic structure and a patriarchal structure – theatre (and all art) should rise to meet it.

the terrific sadness of this piece is that it is a wholly Caribbean piece that cannot safely exist in the Caribbean.

This strikes me as a fascination tension at the heart of the work, between a Caribbean expression of identity and Caribbean values. Does Splintered represent the possibilities of a global multiculturalism, that encourages deeper dialogues within and about cultures?

In my opinion, culturally, the Caribbean is eons ahead of the rest of the world, eons.It’s fascinating to me that a culture that is, by nature (and by force) inclusive of hundreds of microcultures can somehow be homophobic. I, a black/white/arab Trinidadian, spent my childhood celebrating Christmas, Eid and Divali. Every Emancipation Day (go on British people, when did slavery officially end? Do you know?), the entire country wears west African prints to commemorate. Carnival music is a mashup of dozens of music styles from West Africa, India and China. Our culture is fascinating and magical, so I just wanted to extend that culture of celebrating and sharing difference to queerness – trying to get to the root of Caribbean homophobia in the first place.

Devised with a cast of queer Caribbean actresses of colour, SPLINTERED follows the stories of three women coming to terms with their queerness. This is the play that asks, “can we celebrate queerness without the trauma of queerness?”. Expect genre-bending, theatre-rule breaking storytelling, ultimately joyful and sorrowful at the same time.

Artistic Director of lagahoo Emily Aboud comments: “SPLINTERED is the show I needed to see growing up, the show that would certainly be banned back home, and the show that celebrates the people whose very existence is an act of rebellion. Caribbean culture itself is based in rampant homophobia and misogyny (listening closely to any Caribbean song will prove this) and the terrific sadness of this piece is that it is a wholly Caribbean piece that cannot safely exist in the Caribbean. We hope that by making SPLINTERED we can make a small but vital step in creating space for Caribbean artists on UK stages”

SPLINTERED is generously supported by Arts Council England, the Bush Theatre, New Diorama Theatre & Soho Writers Lab.

Venue Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49), 11B Bristo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 1EZ

Dates Wed 31 July – Thu 1 Aug (Previews)

Fri 2 Aug – Sun 25 Aug (not 13th or 20th)

Time 9.30pm (1hr)

Tickets Available from: http://bit.ly/splinteredfringe

£10 (£8) / £8 (£6) previews

Director Emily Aboud

Lighting & Sound Elissa Webb

Cast Sanaa Byfield, Charlotte Dowding & Natasha Simone

Social Handles @lagahootheatre | #splintered | @bedlamfringe

Show Notes 16+ (restriction)

Includes audience participation, distressing themes, scenes of a sexual nature, strobe lighting, strong language/swearing

LONDON PREVIEWS:

Preview 1 CLF Art Café (Bussey Building)

Thursday 25th July, 9pm

Preview 2 Bunker Theatre

Sunday 28th July, 4.30pm

Notes to Editors

About lagahoo productions

lagahoo productions formed to fill a gap in representation, focusing on creating formally innovative new-writing for and by Caribbean people, with a focus on queer and diverse work. A New Diorama Emerging Company 2019/20 and a Soho Theatre Young Company, lagahoo makes work that celebrates the magic of being Caribbean, whilst challenging colonial and sexist conventions.

About Emily Aboud

Trinidadian director, Emily Aboud, is an Associate Artist of the Bush Theatre, as part of their Project 2036 scheme, championing the work of BAME theatremakers. Other directing credits include Exceptional Promise (Bush Theatre), Salty Irini (Ovalhouse) & A Place for We (Rich Mix). She has assistant directed A Small Place (Gate Theatre), Going Through (Bush Theatre), Deposit (Hampstead Theatre) and Drums and Colours (British Library). She is a columnist for the Trinidad Guardian and performs regularly as the drag king, TriniDad & TooGayThough, for which she was a finalist for Man-Up, the UK’s largest drag king competition.

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