Baaba’s Footsteps, VAULT Festival

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By Keagan Fransch

Baaba’s Footsteps begins with a striking first image: Takako, a 16-year old woman embarking on a life-changing journey in Japan, 1920. She stands upright and wide-eyed; determined, stoic, hopeful, and perhaps a little naive, Takako gazes into the middle distance, willing her new life as a picture bride into existence with a desperate intensity. It is this image that Yu, Takako’s great-granddaughter, frantically chases a hundred years later. Yu works as a television director in Tokyo, talented and busy and upwardly mobile. However, when she is suddenly fired for having an affair with a married co-worker (who is then promoted to the position she was up for), she is forced to take stock of her life, and decides to retrace her great-grandmother’s footsteps to America to hopefully regain a sense of meaning and control.

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Lòng Mẹ, VAULT Festival

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By Keagan Fransch

For many of us, the struggle to understand our mothers and the choices they’ve made is a lifelong adventure, often unearthing more questions than answers. Lòng M (a Vietnamese phrase meaning Mother’s soul/heart/love) interrogates this struggle through two very different, very personal stories told through the lens of the most questioning of all children – the child of immigrants.

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Wigs Snatched Perceptions Destroyed, VAULT Festival

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by Amber Pathak

Ever wanted to be famous? Now you can! For the small price of your dignity, you can attend Erinn Dhesi’s “How To Be An Influencer Whilst Alienating People” workshop. The hour-long lecture covers career options, how to boost engagement and, like, a super- important message about identity.

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I Don’t Know What to Do, VAULT Festival

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by Isabel Becker

New artistic company Creative Destruction bring forward a pertinent interrogation of the hypocrisies behind the climate crisis movement in their entertaining and moving play. Despite the laziness of the production’s title, which sounds like a draft idea that never quite made it to review (the play is still a work in progress), Zoe Lafferty’s autobiographical story of the 2019 climate protests certainly takes ownership of the theatre as a powerful vehicle for social change.

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The Murder of Kuchuk Hanem, VAULT Festival

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by Isabel Becker

For newly formed theatre company Afkar, their debut play is a strong and creative response to Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism in modern-day Britain, but not something extraordinarily fresh or unique. Drawing from duplicate Orientalist accounts by Western men of Kuchuk Hanem – a famous dancer in Egypt in the mid-nineteenth century and subsequent symbol of the male Orientalist gaze – the play draws interesting parallels between Victorian depictions of Middle Eastern women and the lived experience of these women today.

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Body Talk, VAULT Festival

Body Talk

by Grace Bouchard

CW: eating disorders, body dismorphia

Within the first few lines we are promised “fully clothed catharsis”, and for Cameron, Carl, and Phil, this can’t come soon enough. The topics of masculinity and body image within the gay community are rife with misconception and misunderstanding, not least because for decades no one has talked openly about them. Now, in the age of Grindr and Instagram, where men are bombarded with images of washboard abs and profile bios loudly declaring “no fats, no femmes, no Asians”, it’s understandable that gay men are struggling under the weight of the pressure they put on each other and themselves. Cameron, Carl, and Phil want that to change.

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Sold, VAULT Festival

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by Laura Kressly

In 1831, Mary Prince’s autobiography was the first book published in the UK about a Black woman. Her straightforward, emotive prose shares her lived experience of being an enslaved woman in the West Indies and England in great detail, including numerous accounts of abuse. This two-woman show embraces it all, packing this story of family separation, numerous masters, and a quest for freedom into an hour. Dance, music and ritual are embedded into the dramaturgy, too – this is a dense show, but one telling an important story that’s exquisitely performed.

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Out of Sorts, Theatre503

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by Laura Kressly

Zara lives with Alice, her best friend from uni. They work for the same law firm and party with the same friends, but their similarities largely end there. Alice is white and from a wealthy family, whereas Zara’s parents are working class, Muslim refugees from the Middle East. The class and race differences between the two women add to the increasing pressure on Zara to live up to the opposing ideals of the two cultures she inhabits, making her feel out of place in both. But how long can she keep up this balancing act before the strain becomes too much to manage?

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