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Preview: Dark & Lovely at Newcastle Northern Stage

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Dark & Lovely
Newcastle Northern Stage
Tuesday 3rd – 4th November 2015

An interactive performance using memories, music, rum and a ‘tumbleweave’ installation to explore the connotations, history and politics of afro hair and what it means to be Black, British and Female in the UK today

“…unashamedly honest and provoking, and Thompson is so personable that you could eat her up” Lyn Gardner on Chewing the Fat

Presented from within ‘the tumbleweave’, a home for hair built from abandoned weaves and hair extensions, this part autobiographical, conversational new show is for an audience of up to 40 people. Audiences are invited to peer through the Tumbleweave, and feel its various hidden textures. Inside the tumbleweave, audiences will find Selina’s Nan’s living room – drinks trolley, pineapple ice bucket and all, where they will be offered a rum punch.

Using recorded conversations with barbers, hair vendors and customers, feel good music and written text, Selina explores the complexities of the social debate surrounding Black hair. She transforms the tumbleweave, which is admittedly ‘a little bit gross’, into something beautiful, which can transcend the weight of all the connotations placed upon it. Dark & Lovely celebrates what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be Black through the way we wear our hair.  Dark & Lovely was developed as part of a project where she undertook six residencies in six different cities. She spoke to people about their relationship to where they live to build a national picture of what it means to be Black, British and Female in the UK today.

Dark & Lovely was first performed in Chapeltown, Leeds in a disused barber’s shop for a weeklong sell-out run as artist Selina Thompson says: “Dark and Lovely was developed in the barber shops and hairdressers - and making the work was a real coming of age moment for me: one in which I got to reconnect my heritage and cultural upbringing with my developing political consciousness and my practice as an artist. I like to think I've made something that reflects the love and care that those that opened up their community spaces extended to me - but also something with bite!

Something which reflects the battle black women have to go through throughout their lives, negotiating living in a culture dominated by an unattainable beauty standard that marks them down as other. I hope I've made something that stands in solidarity with anybody that's ever felt crushed by that - something which is the performance equivalent of the friend that notices (and compliments!) each new weave, holds your braids back if you need to be sick, lends you a scrunchie if you're going in for a fight, and strokes your head wrap as you fall asleep. Something like that!"

Selina Thompson is an artist and performer based in Leeds. Her work is playful, participatory and intimate, focused on the politics of identity, and how this defines our bodies, lives and environments. She has made work for pubs, cafes, hairdressers, toilets and sometimes even galleries and theatres – including the SPILL Festival of Performance, The National Theatre Studio, The Birmingham REP, East Street Arts and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Over the past three years she has developed a body of work called ‘Edible Women’, exploring the fat body, dieting, control around food, and how much of a mess she can get away with creating with an audience and a taste for excess. This group of works saw her make a theatre show, build a dress out of cake (twice), and spend a lot of time listening to people confess their food sins, as well as sharing many of her own.

Currently, she is in the middle of developing a new body of work entitled ‘As Wide And As Deep As The Sea’ – of which Dark & Lovely is a component part. This work will eventually become a three part series. Part 1 has just received the Mayfest and Theatre Bristol Award – to be premiered in their 2016 festival.

On The Web:
@SelinaNThompson | #Dark&Lovely | 

Running Time: 60 minutes, no interval | Suitable for ages 7+ suitable for families (non alcoholic rum for under 18s)

Cast & creatives
Created and performed by Selina Thompson
Lighting Design by Cassie Mitchell
Produced by Emma Beverley                      
Designed by Rachel Good
Composed by BUFFALO                       
Production Managed by David Lam

Touring dates

3 – 4 November Northern Stage, Newcastle
Barras Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RH
7.30pm | £10 (£8 conc) 

10 – 14 November     Birmingham REP
Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EP
2.30pm (Thu & Sat only) and 8pm | £13 (£10 conc)
Box office: 0121 236 4455

18 – 20 November     The Crucible Studio Theatre, Sheffield
55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA
5pm (19th & 20th only) & 8pm | £10
Box office: 0114 249 6000

25 – 28 November     Theatre in the Mill, Bradford
Off Shearbridge Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 1DP
7.30pm | ££8 (£6 conc) | Limited student offer: £3
Box office: 01274 233200 or email
Dark & Lovely was commissioned by East St Arts, and supported by Leeds Inspired and Arts Council England. 

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