INTERVIEW: Kate Fox – Where There’s Muck, There’s Bras | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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When Kate Fox first worked at Metro Radio in 1998, she wasn’t allowed on air, and she’s still made acutely aware of her Northern-ness in her work for the BBC. But Kate Fox is proud of her regional identity, saying “I’m leaning towards describing myself as ‘pan Northern’ at the moment. It’s the accent, you see – I’ve picked up a bit of everything!” Born in Bradford, she lived and worked as a radio journalist in the North East for many years and is now based in Thirsk.

Having completed a practice-based PhD in 2014 which explored ‘Class, Gender and Northern Englishness’, she compiled a long list of Northern women past and present who’ve achieved great things, which has led her to her show Where There’s Muck, There’s Bras.

When she first started work on the production, she invited suggestions via Facebook of notable Northern women past and present and was inundated with names. Many she had never heard of, because these names do not appear in the history books; these were the unsung heroes, the women who innovated and led and performed and competed and created – and those with so much partly fulfilled potential who were held back by their class and gender from ever reaching their goal. Women whose achievements were, and still continue to be, minimalized, not appreciated, not recognised. “The chance to create a show predominantly for a Northern audience to shine a light on these Northern women was what I’d been waiting for. The show entertains and it educates, for the two go hand in hand.”

Back when Kate was drawn to watching late night TV comedy competitions, she developed a passion for stand-up and when she added poetry into her performances, she began to build up a career. She discovered that through comedy, she could open up the conversation about serious issues that she would not have been able to otherwise broach – “I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have got away with openly discussing my desire to not have children in any other format,” admits Kate.

Where There’s Muck, There’s Bras is an obvious celebration of achievement, but it’s the subtle strands that are woven throughout the performance that create depth and resonance. There’s that long line of remarkable, unrecorded women with their hands on that thread of history who are ploughing their own course, just cracking on, simply getting on with the everyday, creating little tactical resistances to that subtle pressure from without and within. Women like you and me (or a woman you know), who are doing our own thing, fighting our own battles, juggling expectations, pushing against the barriers, without recognition, without appreciation. “I wanted to create a show which contains an underlying recognition of all those nameless women who’ve striven to be ‘perfect’; to have it all, do it all and still look good 24/7.”

All those exhausted women in the audience who may never be remarkable in the eyes of the world can find acceptance, affirmation, encouragement and inspiration with Kate Fox and this great company of women.

Where There’s Muck, There’s Bras is performed at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Friday 15th February; The Hullabaloo, Darlington on Friday 1st; Northern Stage, Newcastle on Wednesday 13th; and ARC, Stockton on Saturday 23rd March.

 

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