2018 has been a glorious year for me, so glorious in fact the anxiety of whether 2019 will be on par has sunken in now. Here's a little round up of where my work has taken me this year...
I performed a section of The Vagina Monologues with the wonderful All Things Considered at the Unity Theatre for V-DAY! I had to perform about 20 different interpretations of various orgasms to a sold out audience and I loved every minute. I also met some incredible and inspirational women along the way.
Was invited by Making Room Theatre Company and Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University onto a residency that supported talent development in interdisciplinary theatre, performance and live art practice. I met a bunch of talented artists/facilitators and was given time, space and feedback to develop ideas that were bubbling away.
I performed a selection of songs I'd been working on as part of my Masters to an audience at John Moores University. 'I Dreamed A Dream' was officially born.
I began the research and development for HIP HIP I'M GAY!, my next project that was going to based around the topic of LGBTQIA+ identity and mental health struggles.
I was Artist In Residence for a week at Metal Liverpool researching Mental Health struggles within the LGBTQIA+ community. I interviewed 12 members of the queer community to hear about their personal experiences/opinions and I worked with artist Rebecca Clarke on creating performative material aimed at dispelling myths around Bisexuality. I held a keynote speaker day which included talks from Merseyside Police, Liverpool Pride and GYRO and I held an audition day to find performers and collaborators for the project. More info here: https://www.ashleighowen.co.uk/blog-1/hip-hip-i-m-gay-r-d-week-1
I performed at the launch party for the first ever Peterborough Pride which was hosted by Scottee and also featured Tom Marshman and Rhys Hollis. It was a beautiful event and I met some lovely people who I've stayed in touch with. Here is the footage of my performance...
I performed on the cabaret stage at Liverpool Pride for the first time, Liverpool audiences are always my absolute favourite! FUN FACT: The night before this I accidentally sowed this costume to the t-shirt I was wearing underneath LOLZ.
On my 30th Birthday I officially became an Arts Council funded artist, gaining a grant to continue the research and development for HIP HIP I'M GAY!.
I also performed in A Midsummer's Mooncup at 17 Love Lane with the wonderful gals (and part time gals) of Mooncup Theatre. It was a flippin' hoot!
I was back as Artist In Residence at Metal for two weeks with four wonderful performers (read about them here: https://www.ashleighowen.co.uk/blog-1/meet-the-performers) to continue the research and development of HIP HIP I'M GAY!. We spent the time sifting through 10 hours of verbatim, writing sketches and songs, opening up about our experiences with mental health and by the end we had formed the skeleton for a brand new show.
I also performed alongside some of Liverpool's most loved performers at The Royal Court to raise money for life-changing surgery to help a little boy called Jamie with Cerebral Palsy. This was such a special evening full of talent and love. We raised just over £1,000!
I then completed my Masters Degree with a Merit! (I know right? Not just a pretty face!)
I Performed excerpts of the work I had been creating during the year at The Space-In Between which formed part of Unlimited Festival at the Southbank Centre curated by the amazing Kate Marsh and Metal.
I paid homage to one of my favourite humans Scottee at his event I Made It at The Roundhouse in Camden. I had to recreate one of his cabaret acts from memory, and yes it was as disastrous, fabulous and hilarious as it sounds.
I joined Scottee again in London, along with Travis Alabanza and Kelly Green to help facilitate a weekend of workshops for young Working Class artists at The Roundhouse.
September was definitely the month of Scottee! I finally got to meet his book which celebrates a decade of his important work. I was honoured to be asked to contribute to the book alongside artists I admire such as Munroe Bergdorf, Bryony Kimmings, Charlotte Cooper, Selina Thompson and Travis Alabanza. Here I am with my section (I did a little cry because I'm very proud of him).
The cast of HIP HIP I'M GAY! and I performed an excerpt of the show at a Mental Health Symposium at John Moores University.
In October I was part of a panel discussion at FACT alongside Joan Burnett, Niloo Sharifi and Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor to talk about Vivian Bang's film White Rabbit and the use of comedy to tackle sensitive subjects.
I was informed that alongside my Masters I had been awarded a Lynda La Plante Prize for Outstanding Practice #doublebackflip
October was also the month ACE agreed to support HIP HIP I'M GAY! again by funding the rehearsals and a small preview tour. The cast and I had a fabulous photoshoot with the incredible John Hollingsworth (photography) and Alex Clarke (make-up), we then got cracking back at rehearsals to finish creating our show-baby.
I performed my cabaret act 'I Dreamed A Dream' (y'know, the one I've been milking all year) at the Homotopia Launch party to a crowd of gorgeous artists, queers and allies. Here's some footage of the event...
I appeared on BBC Radio Merseyside to promote HIP HIP I'M GAY!
I went into LIPA Sixth Form to talk to their students about me, my journey into performance, my style and how I created HIP HIP I'M GAY!. Feedback from a member of staff was "Not only was that brilliant and funny but really important. Made us reflect on how we facilitate safe queer spaces. Thank you so much". I left wanting to adopt them all the cuties!
The Cast and I performed HIP HIP I'M GAY! to sell out audiences at Unity Theatre and 17 Love Lane. We also took it to The Studio Widnes and had a private performance for the young people and staff at GYRO. The feedback for the show was overwhelmingly positive, read some about it here: https://www.ashleighowen.co.uk/blog-1/hip-hip-i-m-gay-audience-feedback
We also had a trailer of the show made:
I officially became a Master Of Arts!
I also performed an excerpt of Angela Simms’ new play ‘Mary, Sue And The Park Bench’ with the gal herself as part of Stage Write at The Royal Court.
I debuted a new parody song (THANK HEAVENS!) at Filla's Christmas Cracker. My version of Santa Baby went down a treat and has had over 6,000 views across my social media platforms. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/ashleigh.owen/videos/10161617891725657/
So there you have it!
During 2019 I'll be working even harder, HIP HIP I'M GAY! will be back for a UK wide, I'll be working alongside Scottee again, I'll be starting one or two other projects and... who knows what else. Oh yeah... and I'm getting married. SCREAM!
Hope you lot have a lovely one.