The VAULT Programme this year has been incredible. Vast and varied, there had been something for everyone and we have been so proud and excited to be part of it all with our two shows Follow Suit (last week) and A Clown Show About Rain (coming up this weekend). It has also been a blessing to talk to so many of the companies about their work, why they are making it and what they have to say about the theatre industry right now. With movements like #MeToo ongoing, and VAULT Festival supporting #HeForShe, being a woman in theatre right now is very exciting, and we spoke to loads of women about it. Last but by no means least, we spoke to Ella Mesma about her dance-theatre piece, Ladylike. The show uses 'Afro Cuban, Breaking, Rocking and Contemporary dance theatre to focus on the female perspective', and it looks bloody great.
What drove you to make Ladylike?
We all need real life superheros who reflect and inspire us. Seeing someone who you can fit the shoes of just speaks in a different way. I had a dream to make Ladylike, a piece that reflected real women, latin women, black women, mixed women, break-women, superhero women.
In the media: the women I was seeing were beautiful, but they were not heroes, they were ‘sidechicks’ without much script, and they weren’t doing the saving but being rescued… I wanted to make a piece where the women were dealing with the real life day to day… but fighting back like warriors!
Who is Ladylike for?
I think Ladylike is for everyone: all women! real women, latin women, black women, mixed women, break-women, superhero women… but also for men too… Last night I dreamt that one of the roles was played by a male friend of mine… and he smashed it! I think the story could equally be applied to men: It is about smashing the patriarchy (which all men should be on board with!)
What are the benefits of making a dance theatre piece?
I actually think dance theatre is about healing, speaking up, having a voice,… and so I thin it is also a healing experience: both for the performers ad those watching
What theatre ‘turn offs’ do you have?
Hmmm… I don’t come from a dance background (I come from a family where we didn’t go to the theatre much when I was a kid), and so often I feel like it is a place where I am not welcome… but I know this is not the case: it is a preconception that I am working to break: both my own preconception, and with the work I make: trying to make sure that it is still abstract, but that anyone can take something from it
What was the last show that moved you to action?
Every show I see I have to recreate on my way home haha! But a piece I absolutely loved was a flamenco show I saw at the Barbican by Rocío Molina
What shows at VAULT are you looking forward to?
I can’t wait to see Caravan! I love immersive theatre! Will definitely be at that one!
Catch Ladylike tomorrow and thursday at VAULT Festival!