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Interview: Celebrating International Women’s Day With A Thistle and Rose

Thistle and Rose Theatre talk about their upcoming Scratch Night

With International Women’s Day coming up on Friday 8 March, what better way to mark it than with a female-led scratch night of creativity? We snatched a few minutes with Katie Bignell and Caitlin Lee Smith from Thistle & Rose Theatre Company to ask about the exciting evening they have planned.

Hiya Katie and Caitlin Lee. We at ET are big fans of your company Thistle & Rose and just loved Post-Sex Spagbol at the Vaults last year. Would you like to say a bit about what you do?

Hi Mary! Thank you so much. We are an emerging female-led theatre company dedicated to uncovering the dirty truths of womanhood, formed in 2022 and graduates of the Acting & Contemporary Theatre course at East 15. We have since created shows with an ensemble of women from England, Scotland, Denmark, America, Mexico, and various regions across the UK. We are devoted to bringing forward women’s voices with gasps and giggles, creating theatre that is open, honest, provocative and unapologetic. Our debut play, Post Sex Spagbol, won The Space Launchpad Award 2022 and was nominated for The Spirit Of VAULT Award and an OffFest Award. We are excited to continue elevating and celebrating female-voices through our upcoming Scratch Night!

You’re hosting a scratch night for new work by women this week. Why now?

We have been keen to put on a female-led scratch night for a while now, and what better night than on International Women’s Day! In light of the day, we will be donating all our profits to the Malala Fund. An incredible charity “working for a world where every girl can learn and lead”. 

How did these diverse female creatives come together?

We put out a call-out on social media and had an amazing response of artists, which made our job very difficult as we had so many fantastic submissions. We were keen to focus on very new, emerging artists / work and to create a diverse array of performance styles. We have new music from work-in-progress EPs, extracts from scenes, 1-person shows and some poetry! Some of our artists we have been lucky to collaborate with before, and some are brand new to Thistle & Rose Theatre!

Can you tell us about the plays and the work in progress on the night?
Of course! We have a real mix, new comedy shows such as I Be Stress by Demelza Sears, Kuthbert’s  Parties by Kat Stidston & Nicole Cuthbert, Party Favour by Shelby Corley and Go Go Boots Go by Rosalie Roger-Lacan & Amber Charlie Conroy – all of which explore femininity, girlhood and female-expectations, but in laugh-out-loud ways. We also have some drama such as Not In The Mood For Quiche Anymore by Victoria Buse and Cherry Sour by Isabel Quiroz that explore complex relationships, and finally The Womb by Aylin Rodoplu, which is a unique, absurd play about things that “women have been going through since the beginning of the world till now”.

And what other performance types might we expect to see?

As well as all our fantastic plays – we have some music! Crystal Mills will be performing a brand-new, original song, ‘Lion Of Judah’, and Sarah Victoria (who is also our fabulous techie for the evening) will be performing ‘Chelsea Tractor’ – a piece of satirical songwriting that pokes fun at gentrification in South London, inspired by Amy Winehouse’s ‘F*ck me Pump’. We also have the fantastic Georgie Wedge performing her new piece ‘Per-Verse’,  where Georgie “examines her dating experiences through the five senses”, performed in a spoken word/stand up style!

Can anyone come along or is it just for women?

Of course! At Thistle & Rose Theatre we are keen to create artistic spaces for women and marginalised genders but we encourage everybody to attend our scratch night to laugh, learn and connect. 

This all sound really exciting. What will Thistle & Rose be doing next?

Thank you Mary! We’ll absolutely be putting on another scratch night soon, as this one has been such a hit, we’re also planning to run some more workshops after the success of our writing and comedy workshop last spring. We are also both in the process of writing new plays so hopefully this is something we’ll be planning soon – but we’re also looking to expand our company and bring on new fiery, female-led shows from external playwrights!

Thanks very much to Katie and Caitlin Lee for taking the time to talk to us about the International Women’s Day Scratch Night which takes place on Friday 8 March at Actor’s East, Dalston, London. Tickets for the event are now sold out but you can join a waiting list for returns here.

You can find out more about Thistle and Rose here.

About Mary Pollard

By her own admission Mary goes to the theatre far too much, and will watch just about anything. Her favourite musical is Matilda, which she has seen 16 times, but she’s also an Anthony Neilson and Shakespeare fan - go figure. She has a long history with Richmond Theatre, but is currently helping at Shakespeare's Globe as a steward and in the archive. She's also having fun being ET's specialist in children's theatre and puppetry, and being a Super Assessor for the Offies! Mary now insists on being called The Master having used the Covid pandemic to achieve an award winning MA in London's Theatre and Performance.