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Feminist Festival Guide

By Jenny Lester, Zero Tolerance Project Support Intern

The BBC reported last week that there has been a surge in shows about “social issues” this Edinburgh Fringe. Sadly, the Fringe guide does not allow you to search for shows with the criteria, “must be feminist”, so, we’ve put together a handy guide to finding interesting, entertaining, and thought-provoking feminist performances this Fringe and book festival!

Profile pictures of six women

Comedy

Are women funny? Do feminists have a sense of humour? Yes, to both. See below.

Luisia Omielan: Politics for Bitches

Aug 1-13, 15-22, 24-26, at 21:00 – 22:00, £14

Marked as wheelchair accessible by Fringe guide

Book here

Fresh from filming her BBC Three series of the same name, comedy phenomenon Luisa Omielan (What Would Beyonce Do?! and Am I Right Ladies?!) is back with her third stand-up instalment. In her own words, 'I believe it is my right to have an opinion on something I know absolutely nothing about!' Welcome to Politics for Bitches.

Ayesha Hazarika: Girl on Girl

Aug 2-11, at 18:45 – 19:45, £7 - £12

Marked as wheelchair accessible by Fringe guide

Book here

What happened to feminism? Is it too posh? Too white? When did Germaine Greer become Richard Littlejohn? Whose feminism is it anyway? And who asked your opinion, Piers f*cking Morgan? Ex-political adviser and regular pundit on Sky, BBC and CNN, Ayesha analyses the fight for feminism with humour and honesty, and asks – are sisters doing it to themselves?

#Yesallmen

Aug 24, at 20:10 – 21:10, £8 - £10

Temporary ramp with small turning circle of 1m therefore not suitable for an electric wheelchair user.

Book here

Time’s up; but on what, exactly? Are the Weinsteins of the world isolated bad apples, individuals who use their positions of power to take advantage of vulnerable women, or is it a much deeper problem? Are men just not listening when women refuse sex? Or can women not refuse at all? Join feminist philosopher Dr Elinor Mason (University of Edinburgh) to explore consent, entitlement and the cultural systems which mean women are denied the authority to refuse sex.

Shady with a Chance of Sunburn

Aug 2-26, at 18:00 – 19:00, Free

Stairs with no ramp or lift: Not wheelchair accessible

Book here

Dana Alexander offers her unique and irreverent perspective in an industry that is dominated by the privileged and homogeneous – a purple sheep in a group of black sheep. This is her funny, fresh and alternative perspective on our cultural shift which challenges the status quo because you can't be 'woke' if you were never asleep. In a world of constant surveillance and social media, there is nowhere to hide. New voices have been amplified and we are starting to question everything. How do you discover a country that already has people in it?

Funny Women on the Fringe

Aug 20-24, at 19:20 – 20:20, £8 - £10

Marked as wheelchair accessible by Fringe guide

Book here

Join Funny Women for a sparkling mix of comedy including performances by special guests and the brightest new talent at the Fringe. Enjoy stand-up, chat, sketch and more as we showcase some of the best acts from 15 years of the Funny Women Awards and beyond.

Keara Murphy: Furious! #MeToo Time's Up! No Bawbaggery Allowed!

Aug 2 - 26, Free

No accessible: 3 Steps to door/bar, stairs to performance space

Find out more here

Twice featured on BBC Radio 4's Pick of the Week. 'Her motormouth delivery makes Ben Elton look like Stephen Hawking' (Chorlte.co.uk). 'Comic genius! She's Eddie Izzard with more make-up' (List). There's only so much bullshit she can stand! She is out the house! She's in a taxi! She's donned her red ethical lipstick! She's even shaved her legs! With a Stanley knife! She now has plasters on her shins! But the show must go on! Get a ringside seat! Snowflakes will not be tolerated! No bawbaggery!

Theatre

Skirt

Aug 6 - 11, at 18:30, £10

Portable ramp with small turning circle of 1m therefore may not be suitable for an electric wheelchair user. Call ahead if needed on 0131 556 4270.

Book here

Becs is a single mum and leader of the opposition party in Scotland. Oldest daughter Ellie is about to go off to university while Neve is still at primary school and struggling. Becs is offered the chance to head up the party at Westminster. But her mum has early onset Alzheimers. Her best friend Nina and her teenage daughters need a bolthole. And Becs isn’t quite sure that she could do the job anyway. The party need her to go. Her family and friends need her to stay. Are women ever really free to choose?

Never Vera Blue

Aug 1 - 26, 13:05, £5 - £12

Marked as wheelchair accessible

Book here

Written in response to conversations with survivors of domestic abuse, Never Vera Blue is a disorientating story of one woman’s journey to recover who she is.

Literature

The Edinburgh International Book Festival are running a series of events with the theme of Revolting Women which promises some fascinating events including:

Take Over the Tent for Revolting Women

Aug 23-25, at 10:00 – 18:00, Free, Drop-in

Marked as wheelchair accessible by guide

Book here

The Take Over Tent for Revolting Women is created by Glasgow Women's Library in honour of militants and mavericks 1918-2018, with the aim of making feminist waves. An inspirational oasis for writers and readers of all ages, it's open to everyone. Drop in for strident spine poems, manifesto workshopping and to fuel your appetite for change.

Akwugo Emejulu, Heidi Safia Mirza, Djamila Ribeiro & Sara Wajid: Breaking Down Barriers

Aug 23, at 14:15 - 15:15, £10 – £12

Marked as wheelchair accessible by guide

Book here

Heidi Safia Mirza, Professor of Race, Faith and Culture at Goldsmiths University London, and Sara Wajid, Head of Engagement at the Museum of London join Brazilian human rights activist and writer Djamila Ribeiro, and Professor of Sociology at Warwick University, Akwugo Emejulu. Together they discuss the women of colour who play a critical and revolutionary role in 'detoxing' institutions in the education and museum sectors. Their goal: to open up institutions to all people in the 21st century.

Chitra Nagarajan & Olumide Popoola: Queer Africa

Thu 16 Aug, at 16:00 - 17:00, £12.00, £10.00

Marked as wheelchair accessible by guide

Book here

Chitra Nagarajan is an editor of She Called Me Woman, a groundbreaking collection of stories about life in Africa as a queer woman. These are narratives of first time love, curiosity and growing-up defying society's rules. In When We Speak of Nothing, Olumide Popoola takes us on a journey of self-discovery from the racial tensions of London to the Niger Delta. Join them for a discussion on feminism and intersectionality in contemporary African communities and countries.

Or you can go along to the free event to hear from the editor:

She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak

Aug 15, at 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm, Free

Portable ramp with small turning circle of 1m therefore may not be suitable for an electric wheelchair user.

Find out more

Editor Chitra Nagarajan discusses the anthology which is a ground-breaking collection of queer women’s narratives - beautifully told stories of resistance and resilience, joy and laughter, heartbreaks and victories, collecting the realities of queer Nigerians who will no longer be invisible.

Other than this, the Lighthouse Radical Bookshop, self-described as, “an intersectional feminist political bookshop” always hosts a plethora of exciting events. Their accessibility information is available on their website.

This August they are hosting:

Sabrina Mahfouz: poet, playwright, performer and writer

Aug 18 at 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm, Free

Portable ramp with small turning circle of 1m therefore may not be suitable for an electric wheelchair user.

Book here

Award-winning, playwright, poet, screenwriter and performer Sabrina Mahfouz discusses her diverse body of work including her poetry- How You Might Know Me– her contributions to The Good Immigrant, She Grrrowls, and Don’t Panic I’m Islamic as well as editing The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write.

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀: Myth, Medicine and Motherhood

Aug 28 at 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm, Free

Portable ramp with small turning circle of 1m therefore may not be suitable for an electric wheelchair user.

Book here

Nigeria, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀’s debut is the heartbreaking tale of what wanting a child can do to a person, a marriage and a family; a powerful and vivid story of what it means to love not wisely but too well. Shortlisted for the Baileys & Wellcome Book Prizes, Stay With Me was one of the great books of the year.

Showcases

Each evening from 9-10pm on the 15th-18th August, 22nd-25th Lighthouse are hosting artists who don't usually have a chance to take part in the fringe because of money and structural exclusions. They are offering their space for free to performers who are women & non-binary/ queer/ black or minority ethnic/ disabled/ neurodiverse/ working class - and particularly asks for artists with intersecting identities to apply. This venue does not do all male line ups & all shows will respect a safe spaces policy. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

Variety

Self-ish – Feminist Open Mic

August 16, 18, 23, 25 at 10:00pm - 11:00pm, Free

The space is wheelchair accessibile

Book here

A monthly, travelling, women, trans and non-binary open mic founded in 2016 in Paris. So far we've been to Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels and Madrid amongst others. Anyone is invited to attend but the mic is exclusively open to women, trans and non-binary folk (anyone who doesn't identify as cisgender).

Hot Brown Honey

Aug 3-7, 9-14, 16-22, 24-27, at 19:30 – 20:40, £14.50 - £16.50

Marked as wheelchair accessible by Fringe guide

Book here

Hot Brown Honey turn up the heat with lashings of sass and a hot pinch of empowerment in the smash-hit, genre-defying, award-winning firecracker of a show that's taken the world by storm. 'It's phenomenal' ***** (Scotsman). 'A loud, proud evening of consciousness raising' ***** (Vancouver Sun). 'A truly groundbreaking production unlike anything you've ever seen before – an independent feminist masterpiece' ***** (UpstagedManchester.com).

Bitch Night

August 4 – 21, various times, Free

Find out more

Edinburgh’s leading female and man-bitch friendly variety night showcasing the best of UK talent!

Other Voices: Spoken Word Cabaret

August 4 - 14, 16- 26 at 15:10 - 16:10, Free

Not Wheelchair Accessible

Find out more here

An open-hearted open mic, feature sets from a magnificent cast of spoken word stars, and different special guests every day, all with a sumptuous cabaret vibe. The twist? Every performer featured is not only excellent, but someone who represents a marginalised voice of some kind, often more than one. In short: we highlight female voices, non-binary voices, voices of colour, trans voices, disabled voices, queer voices, and neurodiverse voices.

She Grrrowls

August 11 - 27, 23:20 - 00:20, Free

Not wheelchair accesible

Find out more here

She Grrrowls features talented women and non-binary people in the arts within poetry, comedy, music, and everything in between.

Don’t Knock Your Granny

August 9 – 11, at 13:45 – 14:35, £10

Marked as wheelchair accessible by Fringe guide

Book here

Six feisty older women shine a light on family violence. The show will make you laugh and cry as you listen to true stories of women’s experiences. And our puppets Reg and Regina will try to get a word in. Don’t Knock Your Granny has its roots in political activism when in 1988 a small band of women performed original skits and songs in front of the Australian Parliament House, Canberra. We wanted politicians and the media to get the message that older women were sick of being ignored in policymaking. We wanted action.

Every Girl Matters (Talk)

August 21, 19:15 - 20:15, £6

Book here

We live in a world where being born female is a health risk. Day after day, around the world, girls are told their lives don’t matter: married off in their early teens, denied an education, burdened by household chores, providing food and care for sick relatives and denied a youth. It is time to raise a voice of hope. To ensure every girl is heard. To show that every girl matters.

Join us for a short film screening of India’s Girl Child and a panel discussion with a focus on girls in Malawi, Zambia, Nepal and India with Elaine Motion (Chair of Balfour + Manson LLP), Vicky Allan (Senior Features Writer at the Sunday Herald); James Wells (EMMS International CEO) and Cathy Ratcliff, (Director of International Programmes at EMMS International).

Music

Sing Sistah Sing!

August 19-26, at 17:55 – 18:55, £11 - £13

Marked as wheelchair accessible by Fringe guide

Book here

Internationally renowned singer Andrea Baker celebrates the extraordinary breadth of the African American female voice. A joyous mix of storytelling, jazz, blues, gospel, featuring singers including: Leontyne Price, Donna Summer, Nina Simone and the great Billie Holiday, with rollicking piano virtuosity from Richard Lewis. Sing Sistah Sing! weaves together these women's struggles in the civil rights movement with their fight for artistic freedom, and at its heart, is what all African American women carry in their souls and voices: the sounds of their ancestors' songs of the plantation.

We Are

Aug 7, 10-11, 13-14, 17-18, 20-21, 24-25, at 21:00 – 22:00, £12 - £15

Marked as wheelchair accessible by Fringe guide

Book here

A high-octane hour of drumming, singing, storytelling and dance. Los Angeles all-woman band Adaawe premiere their new show, bouncing hip multiculturalism off their own ethnic roots from Africa to the Middle East to Morocco to Panama to the USA. Inspired by, and dedicated to, the women of Ghana, West Africa, who gather under the full moon to tell stories of sorrow and joy. We Are shares stories of women of many cultures who have inspired, changed, and healed our world. Skin on skin. Wood on wood. Voices on air. The first heartbeat. Put your ear to the earth and listen!

Blueswater Presents: Queens of Blues

August 3-25, at 21:10 – 22:00, £9 - £10

Marked as wheelchair accessible by Fringe guide

Book here

Led by acclaimed vocalist Nicole Smit, Queens of the Blues presents a musical celebration of the women who have shaped blues and popular music as we know it, and have gone largely unrecognised for their influence and talent, until now. The show features a seven-piece line-up of award-winning band The Blueswater. ***** (TheWeeReview.com). **** (BroadwayBaby.com). 'A ridiculously tight band of musicians and an extremely charismatic turn by Nicole Smit' (Fest).

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