Two Tongue Theatre is a bilingual theatre company, producing theatre in French and English. Their new theatre piece, The Boys Club, is taking on an important social issue, inequality between men and women.
Film and theatre are paramount to social change. They evoke conversation and debate on issues. It is a gentler way in, rather than being bombarded by one sided views from tabloid papers, and far more entertaining and memorable.
I asked Sharlit and Leonor of Two Tongue Theatre some questions regarding their show and the inspiration behind it.
What are your personal and theatrical backgrounds?
We are bilingual actresses, born in France, raised in american schools and classically trained in the UK.
We met on the London theatre scene, performing shows in French and in English.
With a penchant for comedy and physical theatre, and both feeling strongly about the inequalities between men and women in the world, we decided to start a bilingual theatre company that would devise shows inspired by the female condition and french theatrical culture.
How and when you started 2 tongue theatre?
We started the company to coincide with the first Voila! frenglish theatre festival in London in 2013.
We devised a bilingual show called Folie a Deux, loosely based on The Maids by Jean Genet, where the maids were french and Madame was british. We explored how society view women who are “mad” versus “bad”, using archives of the real Papin Sisters murder case from the 1930’s, and shedding light on how the media sensationalised the case, the “gruesome” crime committed by these devilish (clearly mentally ill) women. We developed our devising technique during this time and discovered our “signature” bold, dark-comedy style.
The year after, we devised a new show in honour of the Grand Guignol genre from the 60’s in france. In a genre-bending rollercoaster of blood, guts and death, the show was part horror play, part live TV show that goes wrong, ending with all three actresses dying on stage, to a roar of laughter from incredulous audiences. We were awarded best show of the festival and invited to perform again the year after.
What’s your show about?
Two Tongue’s latest show is called Boys Club and was born out of a desire to cross-dress and redress the gender imbalance.
Imagined in late 2014 as a short cabaret piece and later developed into a full-length show, it has toured in venues across the UK and France, gathering momentum and being perfected with time.
Boys Club is a cheeky, quirky and twisted dark comedy, about the gender pay gap.
Two out of work actresses decide to drag up as men, in order to host the monthly male cabaret Boys Club. Their alter egos Jules and Jo, an odd duo of suave and boisterous Frenchmen, bounce onto stage with frisky routines and risqué jokes, seducing the female spectators.
But a series of unforgiving accidents force the girls to make it up to the paying audience…
What was your inspiration for making the show?
We wanted to explore a new genre i.e.: drag and cabaret, and as actresses, we felt very much at the heart of the problem of the gender pay gap and the lack of roles for women in the theatre and film industry.
We are a part of the League of Professional Theatre women UK, and have marched for “50/50” opportunities and women’s rights quite a lot over the years. We were shocked to find out that only 17% of jobs in the industry are given to women (with still very little women represented on stage and off.) We wanted to explore direct action on stage (being french and our history of striking!) along with audience interaction and live streaming. We wanted to take the audience on a journey through the characters’ personal story, so they experience the inequality with them, rather than telling them about the stats and the world situation.
Although we love to make political points, we always disguised them in clownery, comedy, and satire.
What people can expect and why people should see it?
We love to laugh and be made to think at the same time, so we hope that’s a good reason to come see the show! You can expect jokes, dancing, lip-synching, quick changes, accidents, some audience interaction, giggles, shocks, and we promise you, there won’t be a dry seat in the house!
What message you want audience to leave with?
We hope to awaken the spectators’ inner activist, seduce them with our gender-bending characters, blur the lines and maybe make them question their sexuality! But mainly we hope they leave with belly muscles aching from laughter and with some food for thought on the themes of equality for men and women.
The Boys Club will be playing at The Kings Head on 8th May. Use code ’empty pocket’ to get tickets for £12 instead of £18