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Sacred or Profane?

We spoke to celebrated anarcho-feminist performance makers Deborah Antoinette and China Blue Fish, about their creative work and partnership and putting on stage their new show: Queen C*nt - Sacred or Profane? – and their crowdfunder to make it happen!

Deborah and China

Tell us about your work so far, and how this collaboration came about?

China: I have been on the Bristol performance scene since finishing Circomedia ’08. I got very involved in political activism at the University of Bristol, studying Radical Theatre there. I married my love of performing with my passion for social and environmental change when I first worked with groups like Circus 2 Palestine, Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii) and Reverend Billy. I've since been making work in and outside of theatre institutions, with grassroots groups for direct action, as a solo artist and with theatre companies alike.  I craved a collaborative partner for many years whilst making solo performance and just when I turned 30, in walked the inimitable Deborah Antoinette!  

Deborah: When I met China after several years performing writing and directing shows that touched on feminist themes, I felt inspired by our conversations about the possibility of creating a show that really reflected our experiences as women battling to be ourselves in a largely male dominated professional world. From the detail of almost daily being interrupted when walking down the streets in Bristol with comments on our appearance, something most women I know experience.

To the wider discussion about how humans treat the Earth, showing itself as a profound metaphor and symbol of how women's bodies are often portrayed in the media: Part of the fabric of reality to be used to benefit capitalist, patriarchal goals - more production, more pleasure. Neither the earth nor the female is told, in the stories of our mainstream culture, to have a will, desire or purpose of their own. Shocking! In a society where most women consider themselves to be free.

We worked on Chinas Sketches for other shows, and mine for some scratch nights, China came to workshops I ran in Clowning and both in rehearsals and workshops, in fact even when walking down the street our mutual company seemed to give rise to endless imaginative possibilities, sparking off one and other like no ones business.

China: Yes, this spark is the necessary fire that lights the change we want to see! Alongside our feminist comedy ventures, I have been working with Bristol Zero Tolerance and Bristol Women's Voice to bring about safer streets for women and people of oppressed genders. 

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In a recent interview with Desperate Men we spoke about why they had been 'working very hard for almost nothing, but doggedly keeping going to produce something interesting, and perhaps worthwhile.' Have you been doing the same?

China: It was a major blow to find out after a second application [for an Arts Council Grants for the Arts] that we did not receive it, having had such positive feedback.

Deborah: I got on the phone to China and we decided straight away that a Kickstarter campaign was our only option now, dedication to creating a great show at the end of September to raise enough to cover costs.

China: A no frills shoestring c*nt show, here we come!

Follow our Kickstarter and pledge what you can. Every contribution counts.

Great, so tell us more about the show?

Deborah: It is a radical ride through every aspect of femininity! It's totally absurd, it should be pretty hilarious its a sketch show - inspired by Dada, ritual. We sing, we play with clown and Buffoon styles... Characters include Virgin Mary, Theresa May, Frida Kahlo, Earth Priestesses and Burt the drag king. Definitely check out the video on the Kickstarter page to get a flavour for it.

Obviously grab your tickets and read more on Theatre Bristol and The Wardrobe Theatre website.

China:  We decided to call the show Queen C*nt on learning the origins of the oldest term in the English language for female genitalia; the word c*nt, meaning queenliness, creator, woman and knowledge. It´s amazing, it´s power to shock even the staunchest of souls! 

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Who have been your most valuable supporters so far?

We have had invaluable help from mentors at Theatre Bristol, The Wardrobe Theatre, Hamilton House and Exeter Bike Shed have been instrumental. CoResist at Hamilton House have generously given us rehearsal space in kind & we have workshops coming up there too that you can check out on Theatre Bristol Classes page (Absurd Comedy Sketch Workshop).  

Also support from Liz Clarke and Holly Stoppit has been great! A great big thank you to all!


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