The World is Listening

Women to Watch – Mayfest 2016

It’s back!

Mayfest is back. Bristol’s unique annual festival of contemporary theatre launched yesterday, 12 May, and promises to be as unusual, playful and ambitious as ever.

Mayfest Radio is back too, broadcasting 24/7 from the beating heart of the festival. This year we’ve been given the honour of hosting some live shows.

We’ll be talking to dancers, performers, directors, technical designers and more as we shine a light on women in theatre and explore some of the common issues that female performers of all kinds face.

An imbalance

Much like the music industry, gender inequality in theatre is rife.

In a 2012 interview with The Guardian, chair of the women’s committee at actors’ union, Equity, Lynda Rooke said: “There is an imbalance at the moment in subsidised theatres.

“If young women want to go into the arts and they are not seeing their gender reflected that is a problem – you can’t be what you can’t see.

Quite. But subsidised (government funded) theatre is just one example of a wider phenomenon. Right across the stage floor boards, women are getting a raw deal when compared to their male counterparts.

Unequal pay, a lack of diverse and interesting roles, becoming invisible at forty, or even thirty, largely male decision makers. The list goes on. And on.

Tune in

Over the course of the festival we’ll be delving into the world of theatre and performing arts to take a closer look at this imbalance and to talk to some of the women who are bucking the trend.

Tune in to Mayfest Radio this Saturday, 14 May, at 4pm, when TWiL founder Nuala Honan will kick things off in conversation with Artistic Director of Mayfest, Kate Yedigaroff, and Creative Director at Watershed, Clare Reddington.

Nuala will be hosting live shows throughout the festival. Check the Mayfest Radio schedule for details.

Out and about

There are some seriously impressive female run, written and performed shows coming up this Mayfest.

We want to make sure you don’t miss a thing so we’ll be out, about and in amongst the festival, viewing and reviewing some of our favourites.

In the meantime, here’s a quick run down of our highlights:


Leeds-based artist and performer Selina Thompson brings us Salt, an exploration of grief, colonialism and forgetting.

Two artists retrace one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle from the UK to Ghana to Jamaica, and back. This show is what they brought back.

Salt is on at Arnolfini on 13 May. Check the Mayfest website for details.

History History History

Acclaimed writer, producer and performer Deborah Pearson returns to Mayfest with her latest work, History History History.

Set against the backdrop of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, Pearson tells us stories about a writer who lost his name, an actor who lost his voice, and a country that lost its revolution.

Catch History History History on 19 and 20 May at The Cube.


Producer, director and dramatist Tanuja Amarasuriya is one half of the team behind Circadial, a show which sees the sounds of Bristol’s streets, wildlife, nightlife, vehicles, markets and musicians looped, sieved, filtered, warped and stretched to make new and beautiful music.

You can see Circadial at The Station on Friday, 20 May, and The Wardrobe Theatre on Saturday, 21 May.


Composer, musical director and performer Verity Standen explores the nuanced sounds of tuning forks in Symphony.


Traditionally used for pitching and unheard by audiences, up close they create beautiful, surprisingly resonate sounds as instruments in their own right.

Verity will perform at various times throughout the day on Friday, 20 May. Check the Mayfest website for details.

Can I start again please

In Can I start again please, theatre-maker, writer and performer Sue MacLaine tells parallel narratives in parallel languages (English and British Sign Language).


The show investigates the power and failings of language which both tells and hide truths, sparring across the heard and the unheard, the spoken and the unspoken.

Catch it at Trinity on 19 and 20 May.

Of Riders & Running Horses

French-born performer and choreographer is Associate Director for this hotly anticipated show. Following sell-out première performances at Mayfest 2015, Of Riders and Running Horses rides out again for 2016.


A stirring and visceral dance event by Still House created as a communal animation of urban spaces, Of Riders & Running Horses sees a group of female dancers and live band conjure a new kind of old dance.

The show runs from 19 – 22 May in a secret location. Check the website for details.