In conversation with The Party Somewhere Else

The Party Somewhere Else is a Nottingham-based collective of creative women. With each of the eleven members working in theatre and creative arts, they are working together to smash the current patriarchal standards within the industry, and create opportunities for women like themselves. I met with five of TPSE’s members: Tilly, Kath, Beccy, Ria and Hannah, to learn more about their work.

In your own words, what is The Party Somewhere Else and what motivates you as a group?

Hannah: We are all women who work in theatre, and we are women who are frustrated by the lack of opportunities for women, and that we are still underrepresented as writers, directors, performers, producers and pretty much every role in theatre. We thought instead of moaning about it, getting fed up and frustrated, we’ll start something ourselves and make opportunities for ourselves, and other women out there.

Beccy: Whilst moaning about it at the same time.

Hannah: The name The Party Somewhere Else developed from Tilly and myself going to a conference run by an all-female theatre company called Sphinx Theatre, and someone asked, “what do we do considering that the door isn’t open for women and there’s not a seat at the table for women in the industry?” And someone replied, “I think you should just have the party somewhere else, show them how great what you can do is.” It just felt right: if we aren’t invited, we’ll just have the party somewhere else.

Why all-female?

Tilly: We wanted to even up the gap; it was born out of frustration of seeing not enough women being programmed throughout theatre, in the big funded theatres. It’s formed out of wanting to address that. I think once we got together and said, “we can do something about this.” We had a lot of discussion on whether the group should be all-female, whether everything we did would be all-female, and actually, the conclusion we came to was that as a collective, it is organised by women, as we wanted it to be about who gets to make our decisions. For our scratch night event, we set the benchmark that any project involved should have at least 50% female creative agency, and we left it up to those applying to state how they met that. So men did perform at our July scratch night, but still met the 50% as the work was written and included women.

Hannah: We want our work to be for men as well. We don’t want a top female-heavy audience, and theatre created by women doesn’t have to just be for a female audience: it’s for an audience of human beings! We wanted to have a real mix of genders.

Kath: At our last event it was really nice to see the mix in genders in our audience. Our group is a celebration; even within our group there is such a variety in skills, artwork and background [that] we just wanted a platform to celebrate that, and how exciting it can be to a woman in the arts. There’s something special about working with a group of women.

Who inspires you? 

Tilly: In a fairly literal sense of what we are doing, organisations like Tonic Theatre, who have done a huge amount of research into gender equality in the arts and how to challenge some of the structural stuff that can underpin some of the reasons why we continue to see less women on our stages, less women in high up roles in organisations which is really important to us too.

Hannah: In terms of creative companies, there’s a company called Paper Birds that are all-female, and devise women’s stories; they’re fantastic, they have real depth and understanding for the issues they are talking about and they are just beautifully told. We came out of one crying for twenty minutes. Then there’s Shit Theatre, who are two women who make ‘shit theatre’ but it’s actually brilliant; they’re musical and do things in a very playful way. Cleverly intertwining issues without making it too serious.

Beccy: We’ve got a Whatsapp group where we are consistently telling each other that we are inspired, by each other, which is true. I’m inspired and spurred on by my sisters, who are fighting similar battles to me and dealing with similar issues and sharing experiences with one another, and working together to make things better. So genuinely, I am inspired by all the women in the Party and all the other women in the creative arts that are still doing this, because at times, it really is hard and really horrible.

Why do you think Nottingham has become home to so many feminist groups?

Kath: Good question! We are lucky that we are surrounded by so many inspiring women, it’s very fertile surroundings for starting something like The Party Somewhere Else.

Hannah: It’s great that misogyny is now a hate crime in Nottingham and was the first city to [make it so], so that’s a real pioneering thing.

Kath: Yeah, that was developed through the women’s centre who do a lot of amazing things here.

Hannah: I still think there’s a long way to go: wherever you live you probably feel like that. It’s great [that] there’s so many feminist groups, but that begs the question: why is there a need for so many? It’s a shame so many feminist groups are trying to level the field.

How would you explain to feminism to someone who doesn’t identify with the movement?

Hannah: Do you believe men and women should be equal? That’s what I usually lead with.

Tilly: It can be confusing as there are many different types of feminism, but as a base level if you believe men and women should have the same human rights, I would argue that you are a feminist. I have no problem with being identified as a feminist.

Hannah: I think the word feminist has been cleverly broken down by the patriarchy; it has been turned into something aggressive and angry which it isn’t.

Beccy: But it’s okay to be an angry feminist! We shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Label me as angry! That’s what I am, it makes me furious and that’s okay, it’s how you use that anger that is important.

Tilly: Yeah, we aren’t protesting outside of theatres, which would be fine, we are just doing what we do and making our work and saying, “look at what all of us women can do!”

The Party Somewhere Else are planning future scratch nights for female artists in Nottingham, as well as a festival in March 2018. The ‘party house’ will be based in The Nottingham Playhouse and will feature new and scratch work, local companies, workshops, debates and discussions and open up a world full of women’s theatre to both those within the arts and the general public.

Check out their new website here

Interview by Molly Deakin

Images courtesy of The Party Somewhere Else

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