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Fanny Pack Theatre launches to tackle gender inequality with female-focused stories

Fanny Pack Theatre founders Maria Alexe and Rachel Scurlock
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An all-female theatre company pledging to dedicate its productions to “contemporary stories about contemporary women” has been set up to tackle gender inequality in theatre.

The London-based company, Fanny Pack Theatre, also wants to focus on working with women who are “outside the industry norm”.

The company has been set up by performers Maria Alexe and Rachel Scurlock, who met while studying for masters degrees at East 15. They subsequently decided to found a company to stage work they felt was lacking in British theatre.

“We wanted to make work that we wanted to see, which we didn’t feel was happening enough. One of the things that is really important to us is to tell the stories of contemporary women and give the platform to women, but also include and embrace styles and performers who are not the industry norm,” Scurlock said.

“We think it is much more interesting to work with people from different backgrounds, women with different appearances, body types, ethnicities, nationalities,” she added.

The company’s first show, Day Job, is a devised piece centred around the the struggle to make ends meet while pursuing a creative career. While the play is inspired by the devising process, the company has commissioned Evi Stamatiou to write and direct the show.

“For emerging artists, actors and theatremakers, the struggle is real when you’re sitting down at a temporary receptionist job, for example. You’ve worked so hard to get where you are and yet we sacrifice a lot of energy and time giving ourselves away to something we really hate. That’s a constant battle,” Scurlock said.

Day Job runs at the Bread and Roses Theatre in Clapham from December 6 to 10. Scurlock and Alexe said they plan to secure a longer run for the show next year, as well as exploring UK and international options.

They hope to work predominantly with female performers, writers and directors, but Alexe said the pair were interested in meeting with anyone with ideas of telling contemporary, female-led stories.

“We want to create work for ourselves and other women in the industry but also be some source of inspiration. We believe there’s not a lot of hope for girls and women that want to enter into a creative field so we want to be a voice to younger girls as well,” they said.

Last week, founders of campaign Bechdel Theatre announced plans to create a play based on the conversations of women.

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