I spoke to Kate at Theatre Unlocked about their Edinburgh Fringe show Flushed, which explores sisterhood, friendship, women's health and toilets. We love that these guys are making work about women, by women and are so excited to get a chance to see it. It was great to chat about the many appeals of theatre, and the reasons behind the making of this show!
What drove you to make Flushed?
When I first starting writing 'Flushed' I was unsure of exactly where it was going. I knew I wanted to write a two-hander with two strong, female roles, and I knew I wanted it to be a comedy with a deeper meaning, however it was not until I first heard about Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (Premature Menopause/POI) that 'Flushed' had a real direction. POI was not something I had come across before, yet the more I looked into the condition, the more I became sure that this was something I wanted to work to raise awareness about. As well as this, the themes of sisterhood, and the comedic setting of female toilets, all leant themselves to telling an authentic and relatable story, which could educate it's audience on Premature Menopause, and the wonderful world that is the Ladies' room. POI can be a scary and isolating condition, and is one which is rarely spoken about, therefore when making 'Flushed', our main aim as a company, was to create a funny, heartwarming, and engaging story, which would not only entertain but educate.
Since the start of the process, we have been lucky enough to receive some incredible support on this project. We have been working with The Daisy Network, a charity who do amazing work with helping young women diagnosed with Premature Menopause. They have been so encouraging with script editing&authenticity, and general support/involvement with the project. A highlight of the process was performing at their annual 'Daisy Day', a medical conference set up in support of women suffering from POI. This was such a special day since it not only allowed us to meet more women who had been diagnosed, and get their thoughts on the production, but also presented an opportunity for medicine and the arts to work together on an issue, which is something we care deeply about. As well as Daisy, we were lucky enough to become the first recipients of Manchester's 53Two Theatre's 'FOUNDation' award; a bursary scheme set aside for emerging theatre makers in the North West, which allowed us to get 'FLUSHED' in front of an audience for the first time.
What are the main themes of the play and why are they important to you?
The main themes in 'Flushed' are sisterhood & friendship, motherhood, women's health, and what it means to be a woman.
These themes are important to Theatre Unlocked, since we are a female-led company, who are proud to be producing work which puts female characters centre stage. We also hope, that through 'Flushed', we have approached these themes from a slightly different angle, which will encourage conversation amongst it's audience members.
There are so many ways to tell stories, tackle issues, explore ideas - why theatre?
Theatre can be such a powerful tool when exploring new stories, issues and ideas; it given an opportunity to weave these into stories, which might be relatable, comedic, powerful (etc.), and therefore might encourage people to engage with subject matters they otherwise may not come across. For example with 'Flushed', it may not initially appeal particularly to a male audience, however a lot of positive feedback has come from the male demographic, and suggested that although it was not necessarily a subject matter they would usually explore, the comedy of understanding what goes on in the female toilets encouraged them to understand and enjoy learning about Premature Menopause. As well as this, theatre invites an audience to share a space and an experience, which is the ideal way to encourage thought and conversation - this is of course the very best way to explore ideas/issues/stories! Offering a communal and entertaining route into conversation is key.
What was the last show you saw that you think everyone should see?
I was recently lucky enough to see a show called 'The Almighty Sometimes' at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. This was the winner of the 2015 Bruntwood prize for playwriting. It was an incredibly powerful story, which followed one young woman and her relationship with her mother, boyfriend, and own mental health. It was one of the most genuinely funny, thought-provoking, and moving productions I have seen, and worked with a phenomenal cast & creative team - I am not sure if it is planning a second run, but if it is go and see it!
What else in the Edinburgh Fringe programme are you excited to see?
So many things! However, if I had to pick one, Tobacco Road, which is on from the 1-27th August at Pleasance Courtyard (Upstairs), at 3:15pm, looks fantastic! Having seen Incognito theatre companies previous two productions at the fringe, I am really looking forward to seeing this next show.
Flushed is on at 15.40 at Underbelly, Cowgate!