LADY PARTS: An interview with Rebecca Clarke

A few months ago at First Draft Scratch Night in the bowels of the Liverpool Everyman, we saw a showgirl singing about pubic hair with what can only be described as a mop shoved under a delicately sequined outfit. The girl was Rebecca Clarke and the show was LADY PARTS. Here at The Vaginalogue we caught up with the woman, the myth, the legend over a macha latte and toast (because that’s how we roll at V-log HQ)…

Rebecca, you’ve written for us before here at The Vaginalogue but please tell our readers a little more about yourself…

I’m a writer, performer and general feminist know-it-all. I’m also a producer for creative collective Pigs With Wings Productions. I spent 3 years training in Musical Theatre where we were openly if not forcibly encouraged to conform to a shed load of industry expectations raging from your body fat ratio to your deference levels in front of an audition panel. I think this experience has possssssibly had an impact on my creative works in comedy.

Tell us about your LADY PARTS?

Lady Parts is my current solo project weaving together the very different lives of three characters. My first attempt to address inequalities in both gender and society through comedy, Lady Parts follows Guru Harmony, Showgirl Feminista and Radio Rachael. Together they hatch a crack pot scheme to commandeer the HMS Long John, a cruise ship bound for the Mediterranean. Under the code name Lady Parts they begin to challenge the unsuspecting passengers’ perceptions of femininity and social hierarchy whilst also laying out a 5 step plan to save mother earth, supported throughout by a pacey soundtrack of 80’s new romantic classics. Here’s to ANARCHY and ADAM ANT!

Where did the inspiration for Lady Parts come from?

Well, for Lady Parts in particular I first got the idea after seeing a ‘funny women in comedy’ type show at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago. One woman (whose name escapes me, but thanks mystery woman) did a multi media comedy show that woke me up. I never really fitted the mould of traditional stand up and I loved the idea of adding in technical elements that could go wrong on the day – call me CRAZY I know. Seeing that show gave me the confidence and freedom to step into the arena of comedy, and with that, I birthed my Lady Parts.

More broadly in life, I am incredibly inspired by funny feminist women. Caitlin Moran was my initial entry point into feminist writing, but I love anybody who does what they love and does it proudly. Victoria Wood, Bridget Christie, Kate Bush – all your feminist hall-of-famers really.

So, why lady parts, why feminism in comedy?

I will stand up as a feminist in comedy until the day that stating a woman’s gender next to their profession seems as pointless and patronising as it actually is.

I was raised feminist by my mother. When I was younger I didn’t think I’d have to come into contact with what she had done in ‘her day’ – I thought we as a society were sort of past that. But through my experience working on cruise ships which included having my ‘grande culo’ (big bottom) commented on, grabbed and hilariously smacked, I realised that sexism was still alive and well in ‘my day’ too, and it was rife. So, I suppose there’s still a need for the kind of social commentary that Lady Parts is full of because this sort of thing is still going on all the time.

Where do the characters come from?

 

Feminista (left), the showgirl turned gender equality ambassador, was born of my own experiences on the ships and at stage school. She represents the young and naive woman, pre-feminist awakening, navigating the minefield of sexist misogyny that is the world.

Similarly, Radio Rachel -scouse singing sensation turned social mobility mogul – is a wide-eyed young woman, unconscious of sexism and easily manipulated by social media. (Top right).

Both Feminista and Radio Rachel are recruited and somewhat saved by Guru Harmony who is the epitome of feminism. A spiritual/environmental welfare warrior and true flower child, she is the ultimate (much stereotyped) badge-wearing feminist. Perhaps feminism’s greatest fear. (Bottom right).

Together they weave a rich tapestry of what it means to be a feminist whilst tackling other issues along the way.

Where do you want to take your Lady Parts?

This year I’ve gigged in Liverpool at the Lantern Theatre as well as having a successful run at the Camden Fringe and I’ll be performing the show in 10 minute increments this Sunday 9th October at Lady Fest in Manchester. But from there, the future of Lady Parts is untold. Lady Parts is the culmination of a few years of ideas and work and, through the characters journeys, I’ve also learned a lot and evolved along the way. So, in keeping with the theme of progression, I’m opening myself up to new ideas and adventures.

my-face

Rebecca will be showing her Lady Parts this Sunday 8th October at Ladyfest Manchester, as part of Self Care Sunday at the Nexus Art Cafe alongside other performers and workshops. If you like your comedy loud and your pubic hair proud, pop along. Ladyfest MCR is a celebration of music, art and ideas in the proud tradition of Manchester’s talented, radical and creative women running 7th-9th October 2016.

One of our great friends here at The Vaginalogue, Rebecca is a relatively new explorer into the world of political activism through theatre and film. She has already written for us here but you can read more of her outpourings at www.theramblingsofamadwoman.weebly.com.

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