As the VAULT Festival enters its fourth week, The Reviews Hub’s Richard Maguire talked to Kane Husbands about his new show GIRLS, the follow-up to last year’s phenomenal BOYS. A dance piece with words, GIRLS looks at the pressure on all women to conform to a certain stereotype.
Kane Husbands created his physical theatre company, The PappyShow, in 2013, and last year his show BOYS was one of the hits of The VAULT Festival. It explored ideas around masculinity within BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities through spoken word and dance. Too often we have seen shows that despair of masculinity, suggesting that toxicity is pervasive, but BOYS celebrated the more virtuous aspects of masculinity; comradeship, athleticism and healthy competitiveness. The show also examined ideas connected to home and family, while one section tackled mental health; it should not be forgotten that suicide in the biggest killer of British men between the ages of 20 and 49.
For his new show, Kane is redressing the balance and is bringing GIRLS to the VAULT this year. Whereas BOYS only looked at young men, GIRLS has a wider age range, 18 to 70, and it investigates how society makes demands on women to conform to certain stereotypes. There is pressure on women to get married and to have children, but Kane was also surprised to learn how society expects women to look a certain way, and that they should always be nice.
The show has been two years in the making and through a series of workshops, Kane assembled his cast, only some of which are professional actors. Within the workshops, lots of women talked about how they wanted to find their own voice, and so GIRLS features singing from the whole cast. While GIRLS will be more musical than BOYS, it will still feature dancing, choreographed by Kane, but he is keen to point out that many people have collaborated on this project.
It’s a busy week for The PappyShow because CARE, a new show about the NHS also opens at The VAULT, and, then in the weekend, BOYS returns for three shows only. CARE allows people from every echelon of the NHS to tell their stories, again through dance and spoken word, making sure that it celebrates the institution, which was 70 years old last year. Kane believes that BOYS, GIRLS and CARE should be seen as a trilogy, almost as a state-of-the-nation report focussing on the diversity of Britain. To put on three shows like this is an ambitious undertaking, and Kane admits that he is terrified, but he trusts his cast and his crew, seeing them all as geniuses.
Even though BOYS and GIRLS features cis-gender performers, Kane has not ruled out the possibility of trans actors appearing in future productions of the pieces, especially as The PappyShow seeks to represent as many voices as possible. Having trans actors in these show would offer new perspectives on the tricky subject of gender. Every voice is valid, Kane affirms.
Because Kane allows each performer to have their own voice, his productions seem remarkably honest and authentic. If you’re a boy or girl of any age these shows may be for you.
GIRLS runs to 17 February 2019 | CARE runs to 16 February 2019 | BOYS runs from 15-16 February 2019 | The VAULT Festival continues to 17 March 2019
Richard Maguire | Image: Contributed