INTERVIEW: Brash | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Bethan Kitchen

As artistic director of theatre company BRASH, Bethan Kitchen is particularly interested in exploring the experiences of young women in the North East and helping them to explore and celebrate their identities.

“Really, the aim of the show is to destigmatise,” says writer and director Kitchen about her new show Raising Shame, which comes to Byker Community Centre and Northern Stage on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd February respectively. Working with young people’s charity Streetwise, Kitchen’s show centres around destigmatising menstruation and its relationship with poverty.

Recent statistics show that, despite periods being part of everyday life for half the population, 27% of females are affected by period poverty. Kitchen began planning her show by interviewing young people from across the city, and she found that students were keen to come forward and share their stories. “Those who were quieter were still keen to write down their stories, and when writing the show I decided to only use stories young people had told me directly about themselves, not stories about other people.”

Researching the project, Kitchen held focus groups with young people, boys and girls included. “The boys were definitely a lot quieter than the girls,” she notes, “but it was so important to have their input too.” When asked about the breadth of the stories, she reflects that the subject is nuanced. “Period poverty isn’t as simple as not being able to afford products. I heard stories about transgender people transitioning and their experiences, those with single dads, all sorts.”

In Raising Shame, Kitchen has succeeded in a dynamic, lively, spoken-word led show that she hopes will open up conversation regarding periods. “The show has a range of different characters, and is focused on the same time in the day happening for each of them. It’s a sort of ‘day in the life’ show.”

Another aim for both Streetwise and Kitchen was to raise awareness of the M-Card. “The M-Card is like the C-Card, which gives young people access to free condoms,” Kitchen explains. “Young people aged between 11 and 25 can get an M-Card and access free menstruation products. It’s part of Streetwise’s #ProjectM campaign, and the show’s programmed will be packed with information raising awareness about it.”

BRASH present Raising Shame at Byker Community Centre on Friday 21st and Northern Stage, Newcastle on Saturday 22nd February

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