What an overwhelming success!

We have just come to an end of our 2 week run. It has been a wild rollercoaster – our longest run previously was 5 days so this was definitely a step up with two weeks of rehearsals and development at the amazing Theatre Delicatessen and then a full 13 shows at The Pleasance Theatre, Islington.

We are so proud of what we have created! With harmonies, choreographies, new scenes, new cast members, 3d sound art from Singapore and Chile, Arts Council England Funding, a successful 10k Kickstarter campaign and a huge rotating shoe for a set piece (!!!) Sex Workers’ Opera has truly become bigger, badder, braver. More personal and more global.

We have had rave reviews, sell out shows, glowing responses from audience members and a community that has grown and evolved beyond our loving group here in London to include SW organisations and individuals around the world and 300 crowdfund supporters.

Thank you to everyone. Thank you to our amazing, dedicated, passionate Sex Workers’ Opera family. That includes everyone who has helped us along the way and travelled with us on this journey.

We are now settling down for a long deserved rest for the summer (although keep tabs on what Experimental Experience – the company that produces Sex Workers’ Opera- are doing at The Edinburgh Fringe in August) but rest assured – The Sex Workers’ Opera will be back! Maybe sooner than you expect. Watch this space.

Siobhan Knox & Alex Etchart

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Some of our cast looking epic – photo credit Jordan Busson

 

Ahead of May’s Show We’re Crowdfunding – Back to the Roots

Ahead of May’s Show
We’re Crowdfunding
Back to the Roots!

As we announced 2 weeks ago
Sex Workers’ Opera IS BACK
This May at The Pleasance theatre
Bigger, Bolder and Badder than ever
17th – 29th May 2016 in London
Click here to buy tickets!

We are crowdfunding!
So far we’ve raised almost £2k in the first day
Which is as much as we raised over a month
In our first campaign 2 years ago…
Click here to see our new campaign!

We will reach 6x more audience than our award-winning sellout run at Arcola last January, amplifying Sex Worker voices further into mainstream cultural spaces through powerful art, leaving a radical mark on the face of theatre/opera.To make this run bigger, braver and badder without compromising on integrity or quality we return to our roots, appealing to the communities and support networks we have built over the last two years.

We are asking for your help by donating to our crowdfund and letting everyone know about it!

Why Crowdfund?

We are a West End sized cast with a Mini Orchestra charging fringe ticket theatre prices with no funding.

Theatre is expensive to make, rehearsal space is difficult to find in such an increasingly overpriced city.

Until now all of us have done everything for free because this project has been a labour of love, out of necessity to fight stigma and reclaim arts.

As we step into this more ambitious and presigious stage we’re asking our members to take a whole month off – 2 weeks rehearsals and 2 weeks of shows.

Our members are mothers, carers, workers, community members, who can’t afford to give this time without being fairly paid for their work.

We have had incredible reviews from press, bloggers and audience members all praising our honesty, vulnerability and bravery, repeatedly saying “This is what theatre should be”.

The only way we can grow, stay inclusive and make tickets accessible is to appeal to you all for support.

kickbudget

How Can I Help?

First and foremost, DONATE!

We have amazing rewards and incentives
including an exclusive download of The Domme Song
recorded in the studio last month – you’ll be the first to hear it when it comes out in two weeks!

Whether you can afford £1, £100 or £1,000 every donation gets us closer
and builds the community of people personally invested in the project going far.

Equally important, SPREAD THE WORD!

Whether or not you can afford to donate spreading the word is just as important!

Our twitter announcement to retweet is @sexworkersopera our facebook announcement to share is at Sex Workers’ Opera facebook page. DO IT NOW!

Whether in person, by phone, by email, tweeting, facebook posting/sharing, private facebook messanges, in facebook groups, on forums, blogging about us…

We encourage every person reading this to tell between 5 and 10 carefully chosen people about the project and why you personally think it should be supported. Ask them in turn to tell another 5-10 people.

Think about who you know! artists, press contacts, academics, community workers, funders, philanthropists, or just friends and family who might appreciate the project.

Send them this blurb:
Sex Workers’ Opera by Sex Workers and friends is reclaiming arts, telling local and global sex work stories to break through stigma and stereotypes using theatre, dance and song. Support them in staying grassroots and inclusive by donating to their crowdfund and/or spreading the word!

Go to http://tinyurl.com/swobbb to give anything from £1 to £1,000!

Whether or not you can afford to give right now, spreading the word is equally important, tell between 5 and 10 friends in person, via phone call, facebook message or email, and ask them to tell between 5 and 10 friends in turn, and together we can spread it far and wide!

Thanks for supporting quality social art where Sex Workers tell their stories on their own terms in their own words.

Along with a personal message about why you think it’s important!
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We wouldn’t be where we are now if not for the love and support you have given us, and we are committed to working tirelessly to take this show as far as possible, to do you all proud. Thank you to each and every one of you.

Looking forward to seeing you at the show!
Siobhan and Alex
Co-Directors
We are mothers, daughters, brothers, lovers, opera makers!

Sex Workers’ Opera RETURNS May 2016 at The Pleasance theatre in London

Dear friends, family & supporters of Sex Workers’ Opera!

Many of you saw the January 2015 show at the Arcola…
Many of you saw when us we were but babes on the stage of The Courtyard Theatre in May, 2014…
Many of you supported our Crowdfund campaign before we were even born!

We are beyond excited to announce
THE SEX WORKERS’ OPERA RETURNS FOR ITS THIRD RUN
This May 2016 exactly 2 years on from our first show!

Sex Workers' Opera May 2016

So to celebrate our second birthday we are embarking on our longest, most ambitious run yet.
13 shows to 200+ audience a night over 2hrs in length.

To make this opera Bigger, Bolder & Badder than ever we are rehearsing with the cast and mini-orchestra for two whole weeks, developing the show artistically and politically and putting out a fresh call out for anonymous stories from around the world.

Sex Workers’ Opera is on for 2 weeks
at The Pleasance theatre, Islington
from 17th of May – 29th May at 7.30pm

(Sundays at 5pm, no show Monday 23rd
2pm Gala Matinée + Q&A Saturday 28th)

The award winning repeat-sell-out show has been a resounding success to date – with support from local and global Sex Work organisations and international press coverage, and has inspired a sister theatre show to develop in Barcelona (more info coming soon!).

The last run sold out three weeks in advance, with queues at the door for returns and due to overwhemling demand a lot of people haven’t even had a chance to see it yet. So we are thrilled to be given a larger platform for a more diverse range of people to experience the show and listen to our stories.

We just announced the new run TODAY, and are offering discounted early bird tickets to everyone who signs up to our mailing list on the sidebar on the right hand side…  We’ll send you a Promo Code you can enter on The Pleasance website at checkout to get a flat rate of £10 per ticket where full price are usually £15. This offer closes on Sunday 20th March.

Our show has grown so much over the past two years, and we are committed to taking this show as far as possible, to keep amplifying Sex Workers’ voices in the public narrative on our own terms and in our own words. To challenge the damaging, lazy, stigma reinforcing Sex Work narratives that dominate the media. To prove inclusive grassroots art can be skillfull and compelling. To put on an amazing show for our friends, supporters and community.

As such, and as always, if you know any press, bloggers, funders, influential people/organisations or any other means of supporting us please do let us know as everything we have built so far has come from people’s generosity and diligence.

Together we keep marching, singing and dancing on,
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Siobhan & Alex,
on behalf of the whole team

Sex Workers’ Opera news, reviews and future

The Sex Workers’ Opera at The Arcola was an incredible success. We sold out two weeks before the development week and the tickets were in such great demand that we had to add another night!

The show expanded from an hour to two hours and we were able to add a more complex portrayal of Sex Workers’ experiences both locally and globally.

We would like to thank The Arcola, all our audiences and supporters from around the world and everyone in our cast and crew for once again putting on such a fantastic show.

We received some great press, Vice, Reasonance FM, London Live and BBC Radio 4 to name but a few.

Since the show in January we haven’t stopped! We were honoured to perform a full version of the show (which sold out again) at Central School of Speech and Drama for International Womens Day, and we also performed a reduced cast excerpt at Sound Act Festival in Athens and The Lost Lectures, alongside inspiring speakers such as the wonderful and hilarious Josie Long.

There is a lot to come for the Sex Workers’ Opera. Plenty of plans in the pipeline and many things a’ cookin’. In the meantime we are always on the look out for sex work stories.
If you are a sex worker and have a story to tell please let us know here
Also if you have any information about funding opportunities (or rich generous friends!) please let us know. We are a grassroots group and so far have been crowdfunded/self funded.

We are so passionate about this project and so happy that it has been getting the attention it deserves.

Watch this space for more updates and news as they come!

Yours,

Siobhan Knox and Alex Etchart
Co-Directors of Sex Workers’ Opera

Announcements 2014 – Teasers, Fundraisers and New Show at Arcola

After a summer of evaluating and recuperating and a few weeks of production meetings and speaking to venues,
Experimental Experience is pleased to announce exciting new developments for Sex Workers’ Opera!

1. Sex Workers’ Opera at the Arcola Theatre in January 2015
We’ve been chosen to perform at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston, London as part of their community theatre festival in January.
We’re developing the show over 6 days from the 19th – 23rd January to make it bigger, braver, more personal and more global.
We’re performing 4 new dates – the 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th January. http://www.arcolatheatre.com/
We’re inviting new participants, expanding the orchestra, developing the scenes and songs and involving more international groups.

2. Sex Workers’ Opera Performs at Bar Wotever on 11th November at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern
We’ve been invited to perform a 20 minute teaser of the show at Bar Wotever on the 11th November 2014
Bar Wotever is the name of a wotever-inclusive night (queer, trans, LGBT, women, all ages and backgrounds)
It’s held at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern – an LGBT dedicated venue in Vauxhall at 372 Kennington Ln, SE11 5HY
The event is £5 in and we’ll be collecting donations for the next stage of the show
http://woteverworld.com/event/bar-wotever-sex-workers-opera-taster/

3. Sex Workers’ Opera Nominated for Prize at Sexual Freedom Awards (20th Anniversary) on 17th November
We have been nominated for a prize at the 20th Anniversary of the Sexual Freedom Awards (previously Erotic Awards)
We will be performing a 20 minute teaser to the audience and also collecting donations for our upcoming show
It will be held at Bush Hall near Shepherds Bush, 310 Uxbridge Rd, W12 7LJ at 8pm http://sexualfreedomawards.com/

4. Sex Workers’ Opera Fundraiser PARTY! December 12th – Venue TBC
On December 12th the most beautiful, talented and raucous party of the festive season will hit London
There will be performers of all backgrounds from burlesque, strippers, pole dancers to musicians and performance art
All proceeds will go to funding the Sex Workers’ Opera’s foray at the Arcola in January
The venue is yet to be confirmed but it will be central and accessible so save it in your diary!

5. In the meantime please support us by donating and/or supporting us via social media platform Thunderclap
We have no funding as of yet for any of our upcoming performances nor our stint at the Arcola Theatre in January
This is expected to cost a minimum of £5,000 to run so we need your support and that of your networks to make it possible!
Read our donation link for more information http://sexworkersopera.com/donate and spread it to anyone you think can help.
Regardless of whether you can donate at this time, please pledge to tweet/facebook post about us all together on the same day
Via our Thunderclap campaign – http://tinyurl.com/swothunder – select Twitter AND facebook for maximum effect
And ask your friends and networks to do so to – a single tweet from you can be part of making the Opera VIRAL!

6. If you’re a Sex Worker who can’t be involved in person, please send us your stories!
This time we are expanding the show to include more anonymised written stories from around the world
Anonymised audio interviews with Sex Workers in multiple languages with translations as live sound art
Skype sessions during the workshops between our cast and crew and Sex Worker communities worldwide
For more info on how to take part in this arm fo the project go to: http://www.sexworkersopera.com/global-stories/

Thanks for all those who have supported us so far and looking forward to taking it further together!
Siobhan Knox and Alex Etchart
Co-Directors of Sex Workers’ Opera
Co-Founders of Experimental Experience

London May 2014 Production Success!

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It really was a success. We want to thank all of you. Everyone who believed in the project. Everyone who sent their stories. Everyone who passed our details to an interested friend. Everyone who donated their time and money through the crowd fund. Everyone who we skyped with from organisations all over the world who gave us their support. Everyone who had breakfast with us. Everyone who made up our incredible cast and crew. Everyone who came to the shows.

We can’t believe that it happened, and we are so honoured and proud to have worked with such a wonderful group of people to make such an incredible show -and we can call it incredible with no false humility because we were all responsible for making it so- in such a short amount of time. Three days to create an opera? What now?

And let’s be honest – an opening number written by the cast featuring jazz hands, fisting and ending with the line “DON’T BE A MISOGYNIST”? What  more could we ask for…

It’s been an emotional week, and rest assured this is not the end for The Sex Workers’ Opera. First we need a well deserved sleep but plans are a’ brewing. Watch this space.

Meanwhile have a look at all the wonderful things people said about us!

The Independent

The Hackney Gazette

Classic FM 

Review by Pandora Blake

Review on Sex and Censorship 

 

 

 

 

Live Art and Feminism Long Table

A week or so ago I spent almost 2 hours discussing Live art and Feminism. Sitting round an intimate dinner table,  with approximately 30 different people, spanning age groups, genders and agendas.

When we sat down, there was a silence. None of us wanted to be the first to speak, Lois Weaver had emphasised in her introduction that silence is okay… sometimes it’s important to have silence and worlds without words. I thought it was quite fitting to start with silence. Start with space. The topic of Live Art and Feminism is one which is centred around working out ways to reclaim space, make the world realise that Feminist Art is important.

This event was called The Long Table and was a happening conceived by Lois Weaver and inspired by Marleen Gorris’ film Antonia’s Line, the Long Table.

The night was hosted by LADA The Live Art Development Agency. Held at the White Building in Hackney Wick, 30 or more people sat in a circle surrounding a dinner table that had 12 seats. One by one people would start to sit down and discuss Live art and Feminism. It was a continuous conversation and there were always at least three people at the table carrying it on, while everyone else listened. You could come and sit at the table just to add a point, and then go sit back down in the ‘audience’ or you could sit there talking for most of the night (being aware, of course, of others who may also be waiting to come sit down).

I was one of the first people to sit down, alongside Lois and another brave volunteer. I have learnt from experience with things like that, it’s best to get it over and done with and be the first person doing it, otherwise I would be sitting in my chair for the rest of the night with sweaty palms, worrying about when I would join in.

Silence.

But pretty shortly the silence was broken and – once it was broken – it never came back. There were points when the 12 spaces at the table were completely full. The two hours completely flew by, and really demonstrated how much there was to say and the breadth of work there is currently in London involving gender, feminism and live art.

One of the key issues that kept being raised was just how necessary it was to have a real life meeting of minds (not just online) for artists working for the same cause, and how we definitely wanted to make it a regular occurrence.

The event followed a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on the same subject, which unfortunately I didn’t get to attend but it was giving people the knowledge and skills to create wikipedia articles championing feminist live art. The late Rose Finn-Kelcey, a dear family friend and fantastic artist was given a wikipedia page.

Thank you so much to Lois Weaver and LADA for putting on such a great event.
It was much needed on so many levels. My mother is feminist artist who worked most in the 70’s and to know that her work and others were still being discussed and that so many people still thought there was a place for feminist art in todays world was a very special thing for her. For me, the chance to mingle with so many others spanning generations and hear about their incredible work was eye opening, humbling and inspiring.

Some of the projects and people you should definitely check out:

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A
Speaking of Ireland Making England the Legal Destinations for Abortion. A Feminist direct action performance art group operating against the shaming and silencing of women who have had abortions in the Irish region and more widely.


Cuntemporary

“Cuntemporary is an organisation that works with individuals and groups that explore feminist and queer art practices and theories. We facilitate and curate projects in response to the lack of visibility and the difficulties in presenting such work within mainstream media and institutions.”

Thickandtastyxxx
“I like things light – I explore the contrast between a heavy concept and a light visual way to represent it. I am an expressive artist, and I use art to get through emotions as well as get in touch with them, making art is therefore an uninhibited process. I recently started painting fruit boxes as well as painting glossy magazines. In the past I have painted crisps, have worked a lot with barbies, autumn leaves, have made sculptures out of plastic bags and gaffa tape, used candy floss in sculptures and thrown parachuting barbies in the trees of London Fields.”

Magic So Far, Sneak Peak & Two Weeks to Crowdfund

We have so much to share with you, the last two weeks since we launched the crowdfund have been an absolute roller coaster!

We have stories to tell you of our adventures, teasers to show you in terms of the content of the show, and great news to share about our crowdfund campaign!

However we need your support more than ever, and below we expand on how helping the production will directly provide the global community with tools to enable similar artistic resistance to be done elsewhere. Find attached a handy press release you can spread to friends or networks who can potentially support the project.

Below you’ll find:
1. An update on all the magic that has happened so far
2. A sneak peak of the production and what to look forward to
3. A call-out to crowdfund more than ever and how it will help the wider community

If you haven’t got the time to keep reading, key info can be found here
http://kickstarter.com/projects/xx-experiments/sex-workers-opera
And you can follow us on social networks to build our presence here:
http://twitter.com/sexworkersopera | http://facebook.com/sexworkersopera
And all the background and development of the project is found here:
http://sexworkersopera.com

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1. Magic So Far
In the past two weeks we have met more magical people than we could ever have imagined!
-We have booked a very central London Venue to host the performance
-We have involved an Orchestra to develop the songs and underscore the scenes
-We have been interviewed for The Independent (UK Broadsheet Paper)
-We have received stories in many languages, from Hindi to Spanish and had some translated
-We have had an offer to publish an eBook edition of the stories in kind
-We have been taking fantastic pole dancing lessons at Sex Worker breakfasts in London
-We have been learning about bridging Disability Rights with Sex Work with Tuppy Owens of The Outsiders/Erotic Awards/Sexual Freedom Coalition

2. Sneak Peak at the Production So Far
Stories and Participation
We have already recieved many incredible contributions from Sex Workers locally and globally which will be used as inspiration for songs, monologues and scenes in the production by our ever-expanding cast (currently 20 strong). Here is a short example of this in poem/video form. The full words are in the video description

We Sex Workers and Allies involved in the workshops are from very diverse walks of life and reasons for and types of Sex Work which makes for an enriching group within which the process of working together and bonding is as much the goal as putting on the show.
We still need as many of your stories as you can send us to feature in the show itself and in the booklet of stories we aim to spread… Send them to stories@sexworkersopera.com no matter how short or long, trivial or deep, delightful or painful they are. There are no rights and wrongs.

Music
The Next Room are a Classical Improvisation Orchestra who will help joining us to develop the songs and underscore the show, bringing diverse textures and musical styles to the production as well as an element of raw in-the-moment emotion and surprise! The Next Room have a record of working with theatre contact improvisation groups and art installations including a show at London’s Barbican Centre at the beginning of May. Their music will be blended in with other mediums including sex working electonic artist Aurist and a filmed cam show art installation by some of the workers involved in the upcoming documentary Cam Girlz.

Space and Design
We have been spending time getting to know the space we’ll be working in and its fantastic and dynamic and has great sound and lighting. Here is a picture of it being used for a more cabaret setting:
the courtyard - studio

We are involving many creative set designers who along with an advisor from the Royal Opera House, will join us in devising the 3 days of workshops before the performance in which all of us Sex Workers’ and Allies involved will sculpt the songs, stories and set together to make a production that’s truly ours!
 
3. Crowdfund more than ever for the local and global cause
We are honoured to announce that we are half way through our Crowdfund campaign an exactly halfway to our base goal. Thanks to all who have contributed, every bit however big or small is invaluable, not only because it makes the production achievable without putting us into debt, but it also reminds people that the project is about a wider struggle.

However we dream big, and so think if everyone pitches in to support how they can, whether by donating or thinking hard who might be able to among their friends and networks, then we can help the campaign snowball and have an impact far beyond the local community and public perceptions in London. We believe strongly in open source methods for community empowerment and want to embody that through the legacy this project can leave behind.

If we reach our £3,000 stretch goal we will be able to:
-Record the album of songs and monologues addressing Sex Worker issues with the orchestra and spread it far and wide for free on the internet, to gain exposure for Sex Workers through ever increasing diversity of art forms, ever increasing our chance of being heard by the unaware/disengaged.
-Fund the travel for some Sex Workers across Europe to join in the production and bring their stories and voice directly to the stage.

If we reach our £6,000 stretch goal:
-Release a film of the show and making-of/behind the scenes for free online for the whole world to watch
-Create a free Do-It-Yourself manual for producing a community theatre project with step-by-step instructions and workshop plans
-Print and distribute the booklet of international Sex Work stories for free to educate the public in general and in institutions
-Take the workshops and production on tour to our sister community in the US in July to create an equally unique performance giving voice.

We hope you see how a freely available good quality online album, film, story collection and DIY manual can greatly benefit the Sex Work community. By providing community arts guides and high quality activist art examples, we can join the increasing number of workers creatively infiltrating the mainstream to gain platform and shift opinion.

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Please donate if you can, whether stories or funds
& spread the word regardless – so the team can do our community proud!
Yours,
Siobhan Knox and Alex Etchart
Co-directors of Sex Workers’ Opera
http://kickstarter.com/projects/xx-experiments/sex-workers-opera | http://twitter.com/sexworkersopera | http://facebook.com/sexworkersopera | http://sexworkersopera.com

SWO Reborn

Dear past and present SW Opera enthusiasts.

We have amazing news. After an initial series of meetings and workshops, we have found an effective format for the Opera that can involve as many people as possible and fit around all of our unpredictable schedules.

Rather than an 8 week process, we will run three consecutive full-day workshops culminating in a powerful public performance on the last day. This will happen at the end of May.

We will finalise the dates next Wednesday 9th April so we can book a venue, launch the crowdfunding video and start promoting it.

If you are a Sex Worker or Ally interested in giving three weekdays of your life at the end of May to create something magical, email us at:

email

The Second Workshop!

Our second workshop was held on the 12th March.

We went over our safer spaces agreement. We had a few newcomers so they introduced themselves to each other and to the rest of the group, and we took some time at the start of the workshop to bring them up to speed with the process so far, and fill out their own positive, negative and media perceptions on sex work as shown here.

Perception Boards

We decided to start off with some singing, some simple vocal exercises and simple songs to warm our voices and bodies up.

Then we started to expand the visioning themes we worked on the previous week and create some tableaux around them. A tableau is simply a frozen image expressing a moment of conflict between characters.

In two groups, we looked again at the themes we had visioned last week and decided on one we wanted to make a tableau for. Then one by one, we stepped on stage and created the moment of conflict for our chosen theme.

The two themes each group decided to tableau were “excitement” and “empowerment/disempowerment.

After making the tableau, the first group un-froze and came to watch and observe the second group. We tried to work out what was going on in the scene and what the characters were doing, what emotions they were going through. Then one by one each of the actors had their place taken by members of the other group, so that the first group got to observe their own tableau as created by them, and comment on how the scene looked.

We then positioned some lighting around the frozen actors, and turned the overhead lights off, giving everyone papers and pencils, and everyone sketched the tableau that they saw in front of them, paying attention to the lighting and shadows and the effects they created.

We then did some basic rhythm work, clapping our hands and working together as a group to feel connected and working towards making music and making basic beats and group percussion.

We then did a short exercise where we examined different types of song and texture sessions such as arias and duets. We discussed all the different uses for each type of song and where they would be most effective in a musical or opera.

We then got to grips with the different points of address on stage. For example, the character on stage could be openly addressing the audience, staring into their eyes or speaking to oneself, showing an internal monologue of the characters feelings. We all tried to take it in turns to be the one onstage, trying out different points of address.

Finally after doing some admin and having a well deserved break, we all got together, behind some red umbrellas (symbol of sex workers rights) and we filmed a crowd funding video! We have no funding as of yet, so crowd funding will be very welcome!

Watch this space, the video will be linked here very soon!