As a woman in what is still a male dominated industry, can you achieve your goals, without exploiting yourself through sexualisation?

The Maiden Speech Festival is a platform for new writers, produced by Lexi Clare, offering young new artists the chance to explore current and innovative topics that need to be employed through the medium of theatre.

The two short pieces commences with The List by Lucy Park, which challenges the exploitation of women specifically in work centred around Asian women. Park shares the true story of a Korean actress, as she sacrifices her personal integrity in order to achieve her goals and make her parents proud. In what capacity can we argue that we should just say no? Or maybe not everyone has the support they need in order to encourage them to make that important choice to avoid sliding down the horrific trap and before too long, ending up contractually obliged and even worse, physically threatened and assaulted.

Park’s work is compassionate and clear, at times there is a niggle of “what is the purpose of doing this or that action?” however that is most likely just my misinterpretation of the symbolism, after all, the form is very subjective. Park’s connection to the situation is very visceral and tells a story that needs telling and is something that a lot of people contribute to the problem of: sexualisation due to pornographic videos. Assault is something I cannot write about from experience, but is just as important for everyone to be engaged with for prevention within an industry that is so riddled with assault even if it is in subtler forms.

The second piece; Hear Me Out written and performed by Kayla Feldman and directed by Lucy Foster, is a piece exploring similar themes in the form of an autobiographical story, simply told without glorifying the consequences. It is difficult to share an autobiographical play without indulging in your trauma and questioning the purpose of your work, and whether it is making an impact on anyone other than yourself. I think Feldman uncovers some very important discussions that need to be had more often, but more importantly, it needs to be a conversation with those who are consensually ignorant. Feldman is brave to share her story and it is both very powerful and well written with moments of light fun followed abruptly with gritty emotional storytelling. Feldman’s ability to engage us with simple storytelling from human to human is no easy task and is very effective in such an intimate theatre as the Tristan Bates.

Whether it is healthy to explore a piece written and performed by the same artist, based on true personal experience and at times relive it through storytelling, is a question I’m not sure the answer to as I’ve not done so myself, but it definitely seems to have a fine line.

Maiden Speech is an active stage and I am very excited to go back and watch more!

The Maiden Speech Festival is playing Tristan Bates Theatre until 8 December. For more information and tickets, click here.