Ahead of their tour with house, Charlotte Josephine of Snuff Box Theatre talks more about creating the production:
I wrote “Bitch Boxer” in the coffee shops I worked in, the Soho Theatre Young Writers Lab workshops and in Islington Boxing Club where I trained for research. The character came first, born out of a reaction to an unwelcome bit of banter about how unladylike I looked lugging coffee cup boxes into an office. I wrote a rant on my phone and later tidied it into a monologue. Discovering a passionate character with real fight, and then learning that women were boxing in the Olympics for the first time in history, I put the two together and started training. I won a place on the Old Vic New Voices Edinburgh Season 2012 and asked my fellow Snuff Box artistic directors to make the piece with me. Bryony directed it and Dan dropped some pearls of wisdom when his touring schedule with Tall Stories allowed. It was really useful to have a fresh pair of eyes, particularly from a male perspective. Kay Ogundimu designed some beautiful artwork and Seth Rook Williams made us look pretty with his lighting design. Choreographer Imogen Knight explored some ideas with us and Sarah Dickenson at Soho Theatre was invaluable as dramaturge. “Bitch Boxer” won the Soho Theatre Young Writers Award and secured a run there after selling out in Edinburgh. We toured the play nationally and then were then invited back to the Edinburgh Fringe as part of the British Council Showcase. This is where Holly Augustine joined us as the new actress, and did a smashing job. “Bitch Boxer” won the Holden Street Theatres Award and Holly performed it for the run in Adelaide winning a Fringe Theatre Award.
Research at Islington Boxing club was really invaluable. It helped in grasping an understanding of the world of boxing, the language of the sport, the rhythms and moods. The physical experience of enduring this intense sport colours the performance with some genuine authenticity. Holly Augustine too speaks highly of her training in helping her get into the skin of Chloe.
It’s a fantastic experience to take the play on tour and share this story with people outside of London. We feel particularly satisfied when non-theatre-goers are in the audience and so enjoy inviting local boxing gyms. Different venues create different atmospheres for each performances. Some smaller, more intimate venues allow for a more up-close personal experience. Larger spaces take a different kind of energy, pushing the performer to grasp that same intimate story telling style whilst in a bigger space, and allowing the visual images and external themes of the play to feel larger.
“Bitch Boxer” was really fun to make, lots of hard work, very sweaty! It’s not an easy show to perform, one fast-paced physical monologue, jumping from one emotion to the next, you really have to work for it. Bryony’s direction pushes the performer to directly address the audience, to respond to them, to be really honest, open and present. It keeps the work fresh, it’s very much a live experience, it’s happening in this room, with these people, right now!