TALK PROPA actors on stage in flat caps

New play at the VAULT Festival is a ‘F**k you’ to the southern elite

By Amelia Oprean
February 6 2020, 18.30

The director of an experimental comedy showing at the VAULT festival next week sees the play as a ‘fuck you’ to the southern elite.

TALK PROPA is based on the personal stories of two northern women and looks at their experience of accent prejudice and being stereotyping.

Director Caitlin Evans said: “I think it’s an issue which isn’t talked about very much at all, and isn’t seen in mainstream theatre or media.

“The audiences are left feeling something like ‘this isn’t something I’ve thought about before’, and it’s quite a powerful message to take away – questioning your role in accent bias, prejudice and bias against the northerner.”

Caitlin is from Newcastle, and she moved to London to attend the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

She recalls in her first ever university play, she was asked to play the ‘chav’ because of her accent.

She said: “I realised there was a massive north-south divide, economically and socially and found it’s a problem not really talked about.  

“It started being just general, but as I did more research and looked into stuff like type-casting, there ended up being a massive intersection between being a woman and also having a northern accent.”

When she was first planning the play, it was meant to have women of all ages from different parts of the north including Gateshead, Wakefield in Yorkshire, The Lake District in Cumbria, Manchester and Grimsby.

However, with money and availability issues, it ended up turning into a female two-hander.

On this, Caitlin said: “Unfortunately, in mainstream theatre today, it’s still a taboo thing for there to be an all-female cast and that’s so odd to me.

“It seems ridiculous because throughout time, it’s always been a heavily very male dominated industry.”

She added: “Theatre is ultimately telling stories and creating a community space for people to sympathise and feel emotions with each other.”

Caitlin found that she wanted to help people peers who have had similar experiences like herself getting into theatre.

The theatre company Shybairn, which was launched this year, is an all-female/non-binary cast. She says that ‘by chance’ she has always come to work with women, and it was something that interested her.

Caitlin says Shybairn’s next goal is to go up to Edinburgh Fringe, and that she’d like to take TALK PROPA on a tour of the north, and the north-east.

Ultimatley, she would like to establish a theatre company in the support of social campaigns.

She hopes that bringing the company to the north will continue the discussion of the prejudice and stereotypes of northerners, but by making it ‘more fun and more people getting involved’.

She added: “It’s just as important for northerners in the audience to see their accent on stage and to see their experience being talked about. By going up north, we want to make it into more of a celebration of all things northern.”

TALK PROPA runs from February 11 to 13 details and tickets can be found on the VAULT Festival website.

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