Following the success of their inaugural year, Tara Theatre’s ‘I’ll Say It Again’ festival aims to provide a platform for new and established female artists.
The idea for the festival emerged from last year’s 100-year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which allowed women to vote.
The festival covers a number of topical issues currently affecting women from abortion to abuse through comedy, dance, theatre and discussions.
“It was a very good festival but also a very good moment to mark,” said theatre director, Jatinder Verma. “The interest that generated both from artists and audiences made us absolutely determined to continue this each year.
“May is also that month of revolution with the change of seasons. So it seemed an apt moment to mark the ways in which a variety of women are responding to the times.”
The Brown Girls Book Club’s An Evening of Exploration (in collaboration with South Asian Sisters Speak) brought together emerging female writers as well as critically acclaimed author Meera Syal CBE. While Sudha Bhuchar’s Evening Conversations explored the idea of ‘home’ as a non-resident Indian inspired by conversations with her sons.
Verma said: “For us it’s really important that it’s about connecting different cultures, different imaginations and different artists. For the brief period of a month, people have got a wide variety of artists to respond to and their story.”
While festivals like this do a lot to elevate women artists, many still find it difficult to break into the arts industry.
“In these times it seems more urgent than ever for a whole variety of artists to be heard,” said Verma.
“Inevitably we’re going through hard, confused times and often artists give us hope. But they also give us insight into the times and at the very least, they give us the ability to carry on the next day – that’s always a good thing!”
As well as promoting a range of voices, the ‘I’ll Say It Again’ festival hopes to involve more women in the decision-making process and already has big plans for the next year.
Verma said: “I would really like to be able to say to a woman producer, ‘Here’s the festival, here’s the month. What would you fill it with?’ That’s something I’m looking forward to seeing. What would they select? How would they approach this? It’s all part of the mission of this theatre which is not just to present great art but also to look at the future and provide opportunities for future generations.”
The festival ends with a performance by violin and cello duo Fran & Flora inspired by contemporary eastern-European folk music.
For more information about the festival see here.
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