by Joanna Trainor
“If you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.” – Kelly Sue Deconnick
Following on from her award-winning Bicycles and Fish that debuted at the VAULT last year, Katie Arnstein continues to empower her audiences with a new, stunning feminist show, Sexy Lamp.
Taken from the Kelly Sue Deconnick test above, Arnstein uses her personal brand of storytelling – combining songs on her ukulele, carefully chosen sounds bites, and cue cards, to talk about her first steps in this business we call show*. Women are not decorative objects, so we shouldn’t put up with being portrayed like that.
In her days at drama school, Arnstein is taught in improv classes to say yes, to accept what we’re given we can move the story along. But that willingness can be taken advantage of in all walks of life. Arnstein is so warm and open with her audience, that it’s like she’s sprinkled a bit of magic over the space. It’s a joy to see her work, even though she tackles difficult subjects – her shows matter and we’re all in it together with her.
There’s anger in the room when Arnstein’s story comes to its climax, and rightly so, but the overwhelming feeling at the end is that there is power and strength if we stick together as women, and how important it is to support each other. There are quite a few of us wiping tears away at the end, and two friends sitting in the row in front of me gave each other a big hug.
Bicycles and Fish has stuck with me since I saw it last year for the same reasons. That it’s the little acts of kindness that we can do to show solidarity with our sisters, regardless of the patriarchal shit we have to face. I know that Sexy Lamp will stay with me as well, so “Solidarity sisters, YA YA!”
*I can confirm that Arnstein did not use that phrase at any point during the show, it just came to me when I was writing.
Sexy Lamp ran until 10 February.
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