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Theatre professional apologises for alcohol-fuelled outburst during Taylor Mac show

Taylor Mac in A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act. Photo: Sarah Walker
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A theatre professional has been accused of “trans-exclusionary white feminism” and “bullying” after she interrupted a performance.

The incident took place during performance artist Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act at London’s Barbican Theatre on Saturday, June 30.

Producer and curator Becky Burchall appeared to own up to the incident after an apology was posted on her Twitter account the following day, attributing the outburst to “too much wine and not enough thought”.

A Tweet posted by Burchall on the same evening said: “I’m halfway through #TaylorMac @BarbicanCentre …. And wondering why these men dressed as women are continuing to speak for the experience of women??”

The incident prompted a strong reaction on Twitter, with some accusing Burchall of bullying and “showing the absolute height of disrespect”.

Director Nadia Latif said: “.@BeckyBurchell Your heckling of Taylor Mac tonight wasn’t protest, it was just bullying, and a total trampling over the many women/femmes who contributed to that show. Not everything is FOR you, hun.”

Latif added that she was still angry about the incident the following day.

Twitter user Wendy Dempsey expressed surprise that someone working in the arts would shout out during a live performance.

Beth Watson, who runs feminist theatre company Bechdel Theatre, added that the incident was a reminder not to drink to much before a show.

Burchall posted an apology on Twitter the following day: “To everyone at the #taylormac @BarbicanCentre show last night, I’m so sorry for my outburst, it wasn’t appropriate and I can see it was a very blinkered view.

“Too much wine and not enough thought. I met with the producers after and got a deeper perspective. Thank you for all feedback.”

Cabaret and performance artist Le Gateau Chocolat, who appeared to have engaged in a debate on Twitter with Burchall during the show itself, criticised the apology.

A tweet on the artist’s account read: “Fuck this apology. Yes, I’m still livid as this wreaks of the entitlement that prompted your outburst; It’s only after meeting the producers you have ‘deeper perspective’? Be better! Check yourself and your privilege.”

Burchall apologised to Taylor Mac, Lift Festival – which the event was a part of – and the audience at the Barbican for her behaviour in a statement.

She said: “As an arts producer, I am strongly committed to providing a platform for marginalised voices. I have booked many queer acts in the past, and also want to see more female voices being given a platform.

“I felt frustrated during the performance that, while there was significant emphasis on the marginalisation of women, female performers were not as prominent as they could have been in telling that story.

“However, I was disrespectful in how I expressed my frustration. I was also wrong not to recognise how the universal themes in the show spoke to a wide range of marginalised groups.”

he added: “I am distressed that my comments have been interpreted as trans exclusionary. Through my work, I have always worked hard to be an ally to a wide range of communities. My comments on Saturday, however misjudged, were motivated by a desire to see more different people represented, not to shut anyone out.”

Burchall told The Stage that during the performance she had asked Mac “where are the women?”

A spokeswoman for the Barbican said: “Towards the end of Saturday’s performance of A 24 Decade History of Popular Music (The First Act) a member of the audience shouted comments at Taylor Mac.

“Taylor responded to the audience member at the time and the show continued as normal. At the end of the show Barbican staff were on hand to answer any questions from other audience members. Members of the production team also spoke to the audience member about the incident after the show.”


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