Call Out for Female Soprano Performer

CALL OUT – FEMALE SOPRANO UNDERSTUDY AND PERFORMER

Our Carnal Hearts is a gleeful, thrilling and murky celebration of envy, competitive spirits and all the times we fuck each other over.  It features an original choral acapella four-part harmony score by Louise Mothersole (Sh!t Theatre). As the show continues to tour we are looking for an extra person to join us. 

We are recruiting a singer/performer to learn the two Soprano parts, perform at the shows at the Albany, London and understudy/hold the dates for other performances as below.
You'll have very strong sight-reading, experience at singing in groups without accompaniment and gung-ho-ness. 
You can be any age, in any body. Most of the show is performed sitting, but there is some physical movement. This can be adapted to the physical needs of the singer.

You can see more about the show (and listen to some of the music) at www.rachelmars.org/our-carnal-hearts

Confirmed dates of engagement:
Feb 27th and 28th, 10-6pm, London venue TBC - Rehearsal
March 29th and 30th, The Albany, London - Performances, Call time afternoon.

You will be required to be on call:
1st March
8th March
11th March
26th March

Fee

2 x rehearsal days: £240
2 x confirmed performances: £300
Holding fee for additional dates: £300
TOTAL = £840

To let us know you are interested:

Please email a CV and short video of you singing a piece of your choice acapella (just a mobile phone video, nothing flashy) to Rachel@rachelmars.org

THANK YOU.
Rachel and team x

 

 

'33 Shades of Shit Date' for Worst.Date.Ever - Varjack and Simpson for And What Festival

Paula Varjack and Dan Simpson run a night called Worst.Date.Ever, which invites people to share their stories of terrible dating mishaps. I conducted a poll of friends and family and performed this. All true. Thank you to all contributors.

 

1.     The first date where we had to sit in the shade in a pub garden on a lovely summer’s day as he told me he was on medication for chlamydia

2.     The date where he said ‘is that all I’m getting’ as we parted on a street corner with a snog

3.     The date where she got asked to take part in a threesome by a couple sitting next to us. Not a foursome. A threesome. And she spent ages chatting to them

4.     The date when I had food poisoning and I went back to hers just before it kicked in, and then it kicked in and I threw up violently in her loo and then her dog threw up violently on the carpet in front of us and she gave me a dry cracker, led me to the door and micro flinched when she hugged me goodbye

5.     The date where she brought her boyfriend along

6.     The date where we had nothing in common except crisps so we had to talk about crisps until a socially acceptable amount of time had passed and I could leave

7.     The date who had already had 2 bottles of wine before I got there and mumbled through the first half hour then I went to get her some water and when I got back she had passed out

8.     The not first date where I realised he was a deeply cynical person as he kept mocking everything I enjoyed and I called him out on it and we sat in silence until a socially acceptable amount of time had passed and I could leave

9.     The date who I didn’t fancy but fucking them in an alley was easier than talking any more

10.  The date where I flippantly said I didn’t know how people got accidentally pregnant so easily and she told me about the first time she’d had sex with her ex and accidentally got pregnant and had to have an abortion

11.  The date who ordered food but didn’t eat and it was the first date so I didn’t feel I could eat their dinner as well as mine and I never got over their wastage

12.  The date where I was thrown out of girl’s house for laughing at her poster of 50 Seminal Danish Chairs

13.  The date where he kicked a homeless man and ripped a hole up the arse of his own white jeans in the process

14.  The date who turned up pushing a double buggy but didn’t have kids

15.  The date where the guy was 45 mins late and I said I wasn’t drinking and he said ‘are you doing that to punish me’ and then told me everyone who has a pet should be forced to have children because pets are immoral

16.  The date that was so boring I pretended to be having a diabetes induced hypo

17.  The date who didn’t know how to use a bus because he’d never left Kilburn

18.  The second date who I immediately remembered I hadn’t even fancied on the first date but I’d been wasted so I’d forgotten

19.  The third date who I immediately remembered I hadn’t even fancied on the first or second date but had been wasted both times and forgotten.

20.  The date who was furious and became abusive when I wanted a pint and chat and not to go home and fuck and shouted I wasn’t all that anyway

21.  The internet date who turned out to be my mate’s dad who wasn’t out as gay

22.  The date who showed me hundreds of pictures of the vegetables she carved ornately for  dinners on her own

23.  The date who didn’t ask me a single question

24.  The date who talked about her ex all the way through the evening but I went home with her anyway and then she started talking about her ex when we were fucking and I finally realised I’d been out with her too

25.  The date who looked so much like my mum a bit of sick came up when they walked in

26.   The date who walked in carrying a plastic bag as his main bag bag and you just know

27.  The only date I’ve ever been on that has turned into an 11 year relationship and I’m still not sure it’s right     

28.  The date where I didn’t fancy them at all so I said I was having an early night and walked them back to their bike and I got on a bus and then got off at the next stop and walked back to the bar and snogged the person I’d actually had my eye on all night

29.  The date who suddenly disappeared after 3 weeks as he went to prison

30.  The date who was an actor on Coronation Street who would spend every meal saying ‘are they looking at me? are they staring at me?’ when we were eating. They never were.

31.  The date who was German and spent the whole time banging on about how in Germany they had had double glazing since the 1960s and we were really backward in only having it recently

32.  The date I didn’t realise was a date and took my partner to

33.  The date who took me to the same restaurant where his parents were eating out that night and we sat next to them and said hullo and then politely ignored each other until we were looking at the menu and my date asked me if I thought the chicken sounded like a good choice and his mum said darling that’s what I’m having it’s lovely and leant over and fed him with her own fork

A Pause for Thought that never was (Radio 2 doesn't do bodily functions, alas)

Last year I was being very grown up and I booked one of those hire-by-the-hour cars that you can pick up on a local street. We were going to the garden centre, a sure sign of maturity. Loading up the car boot with plants and pots and I thought proudly – here I am, finally arriving in adulthood.

Driving back home, we got stuck in a long traffic jam and I realised I really should have used the bathroom at the garden centre. Not to worry! I thought. Adults use their wits! There, a shortcut, and I turned down a small road on the left. A very small road. A road that got narrower and narrower until it became obvious it wasn’t a road, just a passageway to someone’s garage, until it was clear that there would be no way of turning the car around. I panicked – how was I going to reverse the car out without scratching it, it wasn’t even my car and it had to be back in 20 minutes. The panic suddenly made me laugh, and the laughing and the panic combined to make me need a wee more than ever. I realised I was going to have to get out and pee in the passageway. I tried to open the car door and found that the walls of the passage were only a fraction wider than the car. I couldn’t get out.

There’s a prayer in Judaism that you say after going to the bathroom. It thanks god for keeping our passages open and working because a blocked passageway would make it impossible to survive.  Trapped in my hire car, the perils of a blocked passage had become horribly apparent.

So, this is a story about pride coming before a fall. Or about wetting yourself in a hire-by-the-hour-car, aged 35. You can go to the garden centre, you can buy all the spider plants you like, childhood is never that far away.

On Women, Comedy and Older Jewish Audiences

For two years now I've co-produced the UK Jewish Comedy Festival in London. It's an inclusive beast- we programme acts that are Jewish, Jew-ish and not at all Jewish for any one who wants to come. There have been events which felt vital - the cross- communal joy of 'A Rabbi, A Vicar and An Imam Walk Into A Comedy Club'; nights which were thinly veiled scratches to personal itches - 'When Harry Met Sally: The Live Read Through' and a moment where a naked man danced around in an Jeremy Clarkson mask (thank you Arthur Smith).

Audiences at the festival for traditional stand-up are tricky to figure out.  On the whole the average audience age is higher than you might predict at a standard comedy night and blue material is hard to get past them. There's an initial suspicion, a 'come on then, entertain me' challenge. There's not a lot of drinking ( but interval queues for coffee and cake, absolutely ) so comics don't get that kind of rolling laughter that comes from a crowd being being slightly...softened.. But, mostly, they'll slowly defrost and acts have a good time.

Except, that is, if you are a Jewish female comic. Now, I'd thought that being an out-Jew in front of a predominantly Jewish crowd would be an advantage. Like playing at home. The slightly in-jokes, the mirror-reflecting your experience back at you from the stage can be reassuring, especially if you don't feel represented a lot of the time.  And yes, if you are in a male body, this seems to be true. But everytime a confident, edgy Jewish woman is on, something bizarre and worrying happens to the atmosphere in the room.  There's a sudden feeling of hostility, an air of disapproval. Whilst noone heckles or says anything outright at the time, it's a loaded and complex silence which is harder to challenge.

The audience reception is notably unequal.  You can drop some mild homophobia down the mic if you have a circumcised penis, but good luck to you if you swear whilst being Jewish in possession of breasts. Two older women walked out of a gig after a female comic said 'cunt', complained about that, but not about the fact that an older male comic had previously joked that they were a 'couple of hookers'.

I've seen the same women performers rock non-Jewish comedy nights time after time -it's not a question of talent or quality- it's our (supposedly celebratory) Jewish spaces that are the problem.

It sends a pretty clear message. We are fine with non-Jewish women taking the stage.  We will laugh along with Jewish men. We will not support a Jewish woman owning her voice. We do not want the world filtered to us through a female Jewish perspective, and we are absolutely not OK with her expressing challenging opinions. Back again to Yose ben Yochanan and his 'do not converse much with women' (Pirkei Avot 1:5)

If I am being generous, I might attribute a kind of strange parental concern to the behaviour. There is enough of an age gap that the comic could be the audience's daughter, and a sense of familial ownership and the potential shame of a subsersive child kicks in. We are entitled to criticise, to disparage. You belong to us and we haven't raised you to speak like this.

There are exceptions. if you are an outspoken Jewish woman who is lauded by the non-Jewish world first - Ruby Wax for example, then the community want to welcome you back. You've got the 'real-world' stamp of approval. We can get over our discomfort if them-others tell us it's ok to appreciate our people, to get with modernity.  A friend reminded me of Naomi Alderman's brilliant and depressing article [you can only read a bit of it there, alas] about her treatment by the British Jewish press and community before she was lauded by non-Jewish institutions, which so frighteningly echoed that of late Nineteenth Century novellist Amy Levy who was reviled for her novel Reuben Sachs. Both women were berated for speaking too loudly about the weaknesses of the Jewish community to a potentially non-Jewish readership, (I realise I risk that here. Fuck it.)   It's the kind of 'head below the parapet', entrenched auto-anti-semitism which we are loathed to admit, but, when coupled with the acting-out of internalised patriarchal repression , finds an acceptable target - the public Jewish female voice.

I know that we're emerging out of a hugely unequal tradition, but I really thought we'd travelled further than this. We claim to be a welcoming, liberal community with valued female Rabbis and thinkers. We say we want to be louder, prouder in our Jewishness. This comedic space seems to be an area where old-fashioned British Jewish misogyny and entrenched patriarchal shame can silently simmer on- or make itself known in disapproving complaints after the fact- as yet unchallenged.  It's not gone unnoticed. It's time to call it out. Enough.

 

Pause for Thought on 'Surprising Encounters' - BBC Radio 2, Jan 2016

If you’d pulled up alongside a particular London minicab at a particular red light last Sunday evening, you may have seen the driver and the passenger engaged in what might have looked like an argument, arms flailing, mouths animated. But if you rolled down your window and listened, you would have heard that they were in fact singing, dueting passionately.

I was taking a cab home from the community centre where I sometimes work. The driver who picked me up asked what this place was. ‘It’s a Jewish cultural centre’ I said. ‘Well, Jew-ish. It’s for everyone really’. ‘Oh’ he said. And then went very quiet. After a considerable pause he suddenly broke out in song ‘Sunrise! Sunset! Sunrise! Sunset!’ He told me he’d left his home in Kabul ten years ago, escaping war and uncertainty. He had moved into a room in London where the previous occupant had left behind one DVD -‘Fiddler on The Roof’. He had used it to learn English and now could recite the whole thing off by heart, and sing all of the parts in all of the songs. We talked about the music and culture in Afghanistan, the Afghan sense of humour and then we got down to the nitty-gritty – what was the best number in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’.

It is encounters like this that give me hope for human connection, and blow myassumptions about difference getting in the way of our relationships well and truly out of the water. A small Jewish woman and an Afghan man crossing a city, singing songs about a family escaping conflict, both he and I brought to this moment by our own acts of fleeing (his journey to the UK, my grandparents’ journeys generations before.) As the lights changed and we belted out ‘Tradition’, the sadness at the cycles of war that displace us were eclipsed by the joy of this surprising affinity.

 

 

 

Hullo. An Article on Jewish Humour (and the Moose joke) for The JC, Dec 2015

 

Dissecting humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.
E.B White

 

This year’s inaugural UK Jewish Comedy Festival at JW3 has prompted a lot of people asking ‘what is Jewish comedy? Not least, me. As a co-producer of the festival I’ve killed a lot of frogs, trying to work out what would be different about this festival to any other comedy week. Did we operate via the Virgil Thomson model? Thomson, a US composer, remarked: “ The way to write American music is simple. All you have to do is be an American and then write any kind of music you wish.”

So we could just programme Jews, whose material – no matter the style or content – would be inherently Jewish. Or does Jewish comedy have to be identified by something more than who your (standard-joke-character) mother is?  Is there a tone, a rhythm, subject matters that mark comedy out as Jewish comedy, no matter who is saying it? Arguably (and argued-albeit jokingly - by David Schneider on this week’s BBC ‘Front Row’) all comedians are outsiders, observers, and therefore, Jews. I’m not convinced that this revelation is going to go down well with everyone.

The most well celebrated Jewish Comedians’ material is marked by a seductive mix of intelligence and coarseness; it’s there in Larry David, Lenny Bruce, Sarah Silverman, Joan Rivers.  This makes sense. We’re the people of the book, but also the people of the book that contains a prayer for the successful working of our bumholes. So yes, it’s got to be sharply argued, and yes they’ll likely be references to oral sex/ erectile problems/ hemorrhoids. But if I had to nail my colours to the mast (to use a particularly non-Jewish phrase – what Jews do you know going boating?) I think it’s the rhythms that, above all, make comedy Jewish. Rhythms rooted in a language lovechild of Yiddish and English with a no-nonsense New York tawwking step-mother. This doesn’t mean Jewish comedy has to have an American accent; you can use these cadences whether you’re Brooklyn or Bromley.

I would argue that Woody Allen’s Moose routine is one of the finest examples of Jewish comedy going.  A mix of the potentially believable and wildly fanciful, with a lyrical linguistic phrasing and a killer pay-off, all told in a way that’s both neurotic and nonchalant - like he could be talking about his day in the office.

‘I shot a moose, once’ he starts. Not ‘once I shot a moose’.  The latter is both too smooth rhythmically and also builds the event into a big deal. The way Woody tells it makes it sounds casual, allowing the audience time to figure out the actual surprise and surrealism of the statement before disrupting the rhythm with ‘once’. Subtly echoing the word order of Yiddish phrasing like ‘smart, he isn’t’, it is also funny out of Allen’s mouth: a tiny, twitching, urban man who we wouldn’t believe had ever had access to a gun, or a moose.

Allen ties the animal to his car, but ends up having only wounded it. On the road he has an idea, so drives the moose back into town, trying to ditch him at a costume party.  Here we are out of the woods, back in a familiar suburban world and the classic terrain of unlikely juxtaposition providing humour. As the host of the party opens the door, Allen introduces the moose: ‘You know the Solomons’. Not the Jones’, not the Smiths , not even the Cohens. Three syllables - a classic comedy choice- and a name that immediately makes the audience understand what kind of party this is. Plus, the idea of passing a moose off as a Jewish couple is such an outrage, so meshugge and chutzpahdik , that we recognise it as effortlessly Jewish (almost Rabbinic) in logic .  Sure enough, at midnight when the best costume is announced: ‘The first prize goes to the Berkowitz’s, [beat] a married couple [beat] dressed in a moose suit.  The moose comes in second’.   

The end of the routine sees Allen mistakenly transport the Berkowitz’s –not the moose- back to the woods, where Mr Berkowitz is: ‘shot, stuffed….and mounted….at the New York City Golf Club’.  Massive pause. And then, here comes the kicker: ‘And the joke’s on them, because they don’t allow Jews.’ Noone sees this coming, this fantastic story that has paid no care to reality suddenly slamming back into local, political territory; ending with two-fingers up at Anti-Semitism and a massive victory for the Jews (although, not so much for Mr Berkovitz). Again, the Yiddish-inspired word order - not: ‘And because they don’t allow Jews, the joke’s on them’ – means the final idea comes like an actual punch, withholding the piece of information that makes sense of the phrase until the last word.

Woody Allen was not at the UK Jewish Comedy Festival in person (although we did screen ‘Sleeper’). But the quality of the entrants to the UK Jewish Comedian of the Year Competition highlights the riches we have as a British Jewish community.  Although the acts were wildly differing in content and Jewishness - (look, we didn’t ask, some of them might have been Mormons, anyone even considering holding the title ‘Jewish Comedian of the Year’ is Jewish enough) – there was still a unifying factor. Close your eyes, don’t listen to the words so much as the cadence, and there was the essence of Jewishness, a melody even, that had travelled time and continents to be there. And after consultation with our lawyers we’ve decided the prize for the competition is £1000. The plan to stuff and mount the winner in the JW3 entrance as an extravagant call-back to the best Jewish comedy routine of all time has been scrapped.