Her Naked Skin A love story amongst the Suffragettes struggle for justice

Her Naked Skin

Circomedia

Key Information
  • Dates Sat 15 Feb 2020 - Sat 22 Feb 2020
  • Location Circomedia
  • Evenings

    7.30pm

  • Matinees

    2.30pm

  • Ticket price

    from £12

A love story set amongst the Suffragettes’ struggle for justice

Her Naked Skin

Written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Directed by Sara Bedi

London 1913.

Beginning with the pivotal moment of Emily Davison at the Epsom Derby, Her Naked Skin navigates the story of the Suffragettes fight for a better future. Their personal sacrifice and militant action is met with incarceration and brutalism as Lenkiewicz’s story draws many parallels with democracy and protest today.

Through this setting, the human story of Lady Celia Cain and seamstress Eve Douglas unfolds, showing how female Suffrage transcended class and sexuality. Feeling trapped by social injustices and her marriage, Celia is drawn to Eve and together they spiral into a world of hope and chaos.

Join us as we take on the first original play by a living female writer to be produced on the Olivier stage at London’s National Theatre.

‘Lenkiewicz shows us ordinary women doing extraordinary things’ – The Telegraph

Age guidance 14+

Contains themes that some may find upsetting  (see trigger warnings below).

This amateur production of ‘Her Naked Skin’ is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD, a Concord Theatricals Company.

Image credit: Hide the Shark

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Running time – 2 hours plus an interval

Cast

Clementine Medforth – Celia Cain

Chanel Waddock – Eve Douglas

Kiera Lester – Florence Boorman

Katja Quist – Mrs Schliefke/(Suffragette)/Wardress/Felicity

Charlotte East – Mrs Briggs/Emily Wilding Davison/Suffragette/(Wardress)

Jo Patmore – Mary Nicholson/Miss Brint/Suffragette/Wardress/Mrs Major

Heloise Lowenthal – Clara Franks/Mrs Collins/Suffragette/Wardress/Nurse/Waitress

Jake Simmance – William Cain

Denzel Baidoo – Herbert Asquith/Robert Cecil/Charlie Power/Guard

Michael Dodds – John Seely/Keir Hardie/Potter/Brown/Guard

Akshay Khanna – Edward Grey/ Speaker of the House/Hunt/Guard/Dr Vale

Tommy Sim’aan – Augustine Birrell/Waiter/Dr Klein/Guard

Ashley Woodhouse – George Curzon/MP/Newspaper Vendor/Guard/Dr Parker

Creative Team

Director Sarah Bedi

Assistant Director Victor Lirio

Set and Projection Designer Benjamin Thapa

Costume Designer Edoardo Lelli

Lighting Designer Joel Williams

Sound Designer Oliver Wareham

Fight Director Jonathan Howell

Voice and Dialect Coach Carol Fairlamb

Singing Coach Pam Rudge

Producer Frances Macadam

Production Manager Jon Sherwood

Production Supervisor Alix Abram

Stage Manager Rosie Tredray

Deputy Stage Manager Felicity Simmons

Assistant Stage Managers Kaija Brunyate, Frankie Dowers, Emily Poole

Production Electrician Harriet Hollinshead-Lee

Lighting Operator Alastair Barrows

Sound Operator Victoria Rose

Head of Construction Andy Scrivens

Assistant Construction Manager Ella Jackson

Workshop Floor Manager Eliza Podesta

Prop Making Manager Ambra Fuller

Prop Maker Mary Bennett

Senior Construction Assistant Tom Codd

Construction Assistants Alastair Barrows, Elkie McCrimmon, Kirk Bishop

Supervising Scenic Artist Jean Wong

Scenic Artists Heidi Broad, Alistair Campbell, Bethany Hastings

Costume Supervisor Madi Barnicoat

Costume Assistants Katie Vaccara, Lizzie Thomson, Jasmine Barron, Laura Pogose

Costume Makers Amber Bowerman, Becky Davies, Rhianne Good, Katie Ireland
East Photography

Her Naked Skin Podcast

Q&As

Find out more about the production from the team behind the show!

Sarah Bedi - Director

Can you tell us a bit about the play – what drew you to this play and what do you think is its power?

Her Naked Skin explores the suffrage movement through both the macro and the micro – it zooms out to take in the wider movement and its impact on politics and society, as well as focusing in on a few specific women’s experiences.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s writing is honest and brutal – in that she allows all the characters, whoever they are and whatever they are doing, to be human; this is not a play with heroes and villains. The characters are all real, messy, selfish and courageous: we see people fighting for a better life, and we see what that fight costs. We see characters make mistakes and people caught in the social-politics of their time. There is something beautifully brave about exploring this story in this way.

How strong are the parallels that Lenkiewicz draws between the Suffragettes and modern protest movements?

The Suffragette movement, like many modern movements such as Extinction Rebellion, was widely criticized for being a middle-class movement that excluded the working classes. Rebecca explores this through the relationship between Celia and Eve, and she also uses that relationship to explore sexuality and identity – in addition to gender – within both the suffrage movement and society more generally. She doesn’t offer us any solutions or resolutions, but rather poses questions to the audience. It’s a brave way to write, and I hope the story will give audiences space to reflect individually.

What impact do you hope the show might have – what would you like to send audiences away thinking and feeling?

My feeling is that Rebecca is writing as much about now as she was about then – that she is using the Suffragette movement to explore our lives today. Interestingly, this play was written just over ten years ago, and in the decade since so much has happened, from Me Too to Time’s Up, from public scandals around consent and abuse, to the rise in hate speech and violent crimes against various communities.

Sometimes, in rehearsals, it has felt as though the play is more relevant today than it was when it was first written. I would love audiences to leave reflecting on our own lives and the choices we make. What are the structures that prevent us from living as our true selves? What are we individually prepared to sacrifice for what we believe in?

Joel Williams - Lighting Designer

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?
I am the Lighting Designer so my job is to work closely with the Director and Designer to create the lighting states you see in the performance. I work alongside the Production Electrician to implement a lighting rig above the stage that covers all the angles we need whilst working to Health and Safety and our budgets.

Why did you choose to study your course? Do you have any advice for future applicants?
I choose to study at BOVTS because at my interview I fell in love with the idea of putting shows on in different theatres across Bristol instead of just one venue. The course also suited me as it covers a wide spread of backstage jobs allowing me to get experience in different areas.

What has been your favourite experience at the School so far?
My favourite experience so far would have to be the get ins we do for our productions. Being a part of those teams just gives you a massive sense of camaraderie and it is great fun to work towards such a great goal.

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for the show?
Our biggest challenge on this production would be the fact that we are not working in a conventional theatre. This means we need to supply a lot more equipment in order to put the lights where I would like them and to turn the space from a big room into a
theatre.

Who should come to see Her Naked Skin?
This show is suitable for anyone who enjoys being really invested in a show. It will pull you into the performance so much that you will forget about everything going on outside of the theatre.

Without giving too much away(!) what does the technical/creative team have in store for the
audience?
The creative team have a full on production with lots of special effects and moments which will keep you thinking!

Oli Wareham - Sound Designer

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?

My Role is Sound Designer so I create the overall sound of the play and make sure that it keeps to the directors and designers’ vision.

Why did you choose to study your course? Do you have any advice for future applicants?

I chose to study production arts as from a young age I was always interested in theatre, starting onstage and slowly working my way behind the scenes where I decided this was what I wanted to do. Also, the best thing about this course which really worked for me was the fact that in my first and second year I got to work in all kinds of departments including construction and stage management.

My advice for future applicants would be to put yourself out there and try new things and meet new people..

 

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for the show?

The venue is so big and thinking about speaker placement to get the best coverage has brought some issues involving me having to work with different departments to find the best solution.

 

Who should come to see Her Naked Skin?

Everyone who can!!

 

What have you enjoyed the most about working on Her Naked Skin?

I have enjoyed creating sounds that fit with the period of the play and adapting music to make it sound older than it is.

 

Without giving too much away(!) what does the technical/creative team have in store for the audience?

‘Her Naked Skin’ touches on some big political issues and will move any audience member who watches it.

Jean Wong - Supervising Scenic Artist

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?

I’m the Scenic Art Supervisor. I am responsible for working with other teams (Design, Construction Management, Production Management) to ensure all scenic art is produced and delivered as agreed.

 

Why did you choose to study your course? Do you have any advice for future applicants?

I have always wanted to work in visual arts. I love theatre in particular, because the scenery (for an opera, for instance) can be abstract and visually arresting. I would like  to be able to paint to that standard one day. This course can also introduce the opportunity to work in cross-disciplines such as animation, film and television.

 

What has been your favourite experience at the School so far?

Seeing the scenery I painted installed into a theatre and watching the actors perform on the set to a live audience.

 

Who should come to see Her Naked Skin?

Everyone. It’s about a dark part of our history and even today, gender equality remains an important issue.

 

What have you enjoyed the most about working on Her Naked Skin?

Working collaboratively with our lovely designer, Benjamin Thapa, to make his vision of the set design a reality. The floor in particular is quite abstract and he wanted to impart a history of violence, so we had to paint it to meet this brief. Give it a good thrashing! He trusted us to do that and bring our interpretation into the painting process.

Madi Barnicoat - Costume Supervisor

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?
I am the Costume Supervisor for the show. My job involves organising everything to do with costume, I organise hiring the costumes, who is making the costumes, buying fabrics and bits and anything you can think of!

 

Why did you choose to study your course? Do you have any advice for future applicants?
After falling in love with the magic of Frozen on Broadway I knew I wanted to make a career out of costumes. My advice for future applicants is to show your passion for what you want to do.

 

What has been your favourite experience at the School so far?
I absolutely loved dressing backstage. It was something I had never done before the school and I’m so grateful for the opportunity of it.

 

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for the show?
The girls making the costumes have faced a few challenges along the way when it came to patterning the costume makes and they have overcome these obstacles and have done outstanding jobs.

 

Who should come to see Her Naked Skin?

Anyone who has a love for the suffragette movement, dramatic theatre, historical costume or anything in between!

 

What have you enjoyed the most about working on Her Naked Skin?

I have loved learning about the Suffragette movement, I didn’t know a lot about this period before working on the show and I have loved every aspect

 

Without giving too much away(!) what does the technical/creative team have in store for the audience?

We have some stunning costumes, from undergarments to coats. I think the challenge will be trying to count how many secret pockets we can hide in our costumes!

 

Rosie Tredray - Stage Manager

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?

I am the Stage Manager of Her Naked Skin; my role is to head up my team of Assistant Stage Managers in making, borrowing and buying all of the props for the show, while liaising with Benjamin and Sarah, the set designer and director to make sure that this meets their vision. When we get to the venue, I will run the technical rehearsal and then eventually be left in charge of the show to make sure that it all runs smoothly and stays at the standard it was rehearsed to.

 

Why did you choose to study your course? Do you have any advice for future applicants?

I chose to study Stage Management because the course teaches us all disciplines which makes you a more well-rounded manager because you have a greater understanding of all the departments that work together to bring a show to life. Bristol is also such an exciting city it live and work in that I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to study here.

 

What has been your favourite experience at the School so far?

My favourite experience at BOVTS so far has been as Deputy Stage Manager on The Snow Queen, I really enjoy the process of DSMing from being in the rehearsal room to calling the show.

 

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for the show?

The script mentions the use of guns and a lot of smoking, so I have spent a lot of time researching the legalities of both, and also what is possible in the venue, to try and stick to the original script where we can. But because Circomedia is a Grade 1 listed building this has been a bit challenging.

 

Who should come to see Her Naked Skin?

The show is a wonderful education in the sacrifices made by the suffragettes in order to give women the right to vote, so naturally this play has a lot of very hard-hitting moments. It is not for the faint hearted but it is such an important story that needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

 

What have you enjoyed the most about working on Her Naked Skin?

I have enjoyed working with everyone on this show, the whole team is putting in so much hard work to make this production come together. Rehearsals are tough because of the subject matter, but everyone is amazing at supporting each other to create such an important piece of theatre.

 

Without giving too much away(!) what does the technical/creative team have in store for the audience?

The team has a whole host of exciting tricks up their sleeves to help bring this story to life and have them on the edge of their seats.

Benjamin Thapa - Set Designer

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?
I’m Set Designer, which involves working closely with the Sarah (the Director) and Edoardo (the Costume Designer) as well as the amazing production team, to transpose the action of the play into a physical setting. Since this show is in a church / circus venue, there have been a number of unique considerations from a design point of view.
In addition to the stage pieces, we spent extra time designing the audience seating and configuration, as well as exploring innovative ways to respond to the venues personality to enhance and frame our performance effectively.

What has been your favourite experience at the School so far?
The day-to-day interactions with the super talented students from all of the courses is a constant inspiration. The school is a really homely place, and you’re always bumping into actors, stage managers, lighting designers etc. We all work very hard but in a way that creates a family environment, there’s a lot of love and support, and I know the friends I’ve made here will be friends for life.

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for the show?
From a set design point of view it’s been difficult to adapt a play with so much practical action to a non-theatrical space. We’ve done a lot of work to make the space feel constrictive and claustrophobic, as our characters are fighting social oppression in a war that often times feels overwhelming. Early research involved looking at boxing rings, Victorian operating theatres and bear pits. We hope that the final design will really magnify the action that takes place on stage.

Who should come to see Her Naked Skin?
The themes that are touched upon will speak to many issues we are facing today.
LGBTQ+ representation, the systematic oppression of women and the intersection of class in social political prejudice are all very present. We’re keen to highlight the humanity on all of the sides of these issues. I believe it will be a provoking performance for anyone who is interested in the period (pre World War I) and those passionate about any form of political engagement today.

What have you enjoyed the most about working on Her Naked Skin?
Seeing the actors inhabit the space and begin the process of creating the characters has been so inspiring. Sarah’s approach has been to generate a very nuanced understanding of the world we are creating together, leaving space for us all to contribute to the question of why and how the events are unfolding, and what it is we want the audience to take from the performance. We hope it will be a particularly emotional experience that will be accessible to all.

Without giving too much away(!) what does the technical/creative team have in store for the
audience?
A visceral, active experience, that we hope will magnify the performances of our very talented cast!

Ella Jackson - Assistant Construction Manager

What is your role in the show and what does this entail?

I am the Assistant Construction Manager for Her Naked Skin. My role entails drawing up most of the working CAD drawings of the set for the second year Construction Assistants to follow, which means I have to work very closely with our Designer Benjamin Thapa, and Head of Construction Andy Scrivens. As well as this, I am also tasked with managing a budget, ordering materials, hiring equipment, and general organisation and leadership which allows the department to run smoothly.

Why did you choose to study your course? Do you have any advice for future applicants?

I decided to study BA (hons) Professional Stage Management at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School as it allowed me to experience a wide range of disciplines within backstage theatre. Many other courses would have asked me to choose my specialism upon applying, but because I hadn’t studied technical theatre in any traditional sense before, the breadth of this course was the best option for me. I’d say that is the main strength of BOVTS production courses and would advise anyone undecided about their specialism to consider studying here.

What has been your favourite experience at the School so far?

I have had such a varied experience at BOVTS, it is hard to rank one term better than another – they’ve all had highs and lows for different reasons. I particularly enjoyed my involvement in the Directors’ Cuts season last year. I felt a sense of independence for the first time and it gave me confidence that I was capable of a HoD role. My main specialism is prop/puppet making and last term gave me a great opportunity to do just that: to make a sheep puppet for the School’s annual TIE Nativity. It was so satisfying to see something I’d made on my own come to life and delight audiences.

Has the team faced any particular challenges when preparing for the show?

In the Construction Department, it is part of our job to work very closely with the Designer. This communication is always a challenge for both sides, as many compromises have to be made in order to adhere to a budget and timescale, all the while sticking as closely to the Designer’s vision as possible. This means that we must spend more time working out innovative ways of achieving that vision, in order to keep inside of these restrictive parameters.

Who should come to see Her Naked Skin?

I would encourage all that are interested in studying Stage Management and Technical Theatre to come and watch the show if you can. It will give you a great idea of what can be achieved with drama school training and us students will only be too happy to answer any questions you may have after the show. It’s also just a very exciting and current play that will be suited for anyone interested in modern history, feminism, or LGBTQ+ themes.

What have you enjoyed the most about working on Her Naked Skin?

I have enjoyed the confidence my role has given me. I am learning a lot about the engineering of structures and how to draw them up in AutoCAD. I’ve also spoken to a lot of hire companies, which has allowed me to practice conveying precise technical information to someone who isn’t involved in the show’s process at all. And doing budgeting is certainly eye-opening to the cost of materials! I also think having that managerial aspect to the role makes it more enjoyable as you definitely have responsibility and your actions make a difference to the overall production.

Without giving too much away(!) what does the technical/creative team have in store for the audience?

Our venue, Circomedia, is already a spectacular performance space, but our Designer Benjamin Thapa has designed an imposing traverse set which will fit the mood of the play perfectly. The Suffragette Movement was famous for being controversial and violent, and the technical elements are set to do this justice!

Students developing and growing in confidence during their time here, seeing their work reaching professional standards in approach and execution; a student who intends to be a stage manager producing a wonderful sound design; a first year student making a lovely recording of a song for their recording project; tracking the careers of former students and seeing them be successful; being able to find a job opportunity for a recent graduate. Frank Bradley, Sound Tutor