Feminist theatre festival kicks off in Camden

Calm Down Dear – a UK festival of feminist theatre – has kicked off for a fourth year, promising three weeks of theatre, comedy, talks and debates that will ‘destroy the patriarchy in three weeks flat – or your money back.’

The festival’s name was inspired by former UK prime minister David Cameron, who patronisingly told a colleague to ‘calm down dear’ during a parliamentary debate in 2011. It is hosted and organised by Camden People’s Theatre (CPT), a collective dedicated to bringing new voices to the stage.

Past performers include Bridget Christie, Rosana Cade, Emma Frankland, Milk Presents, Ira Brand, Fuel Theatre and Permanently Visible. As well as performances the festival includes roundtable discussions, with topics like ‘Women, Power and Politics,’ and ‘Men and Feminism’ under discussion this year.

For its fourth edition the festival has made men and feminism a focus. ‘There seem to be more men inclined to interrogate their own gender rather than assume it’s inherently unremarkable; more men asking critical questions of themselves vis-à-vis feminism,’ said CPT executive director Amber Massie-Blomfield in an interview with the Evening Standard.

Highlights of the 2016 programme include Give Me Your Skin, which deals with ‘toxic masculinity’; The Brides of Bluebeard, which reworks the Bluebeard folktale for 2016; and The Absolute Truth About Absolutely Everything, which explores the crisis of masculinity through female performers.

Exeter Bikeshed Theatre will also host a branch of the festival, which follows the Camden edition and runs from 5-15 October.