Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Tuesday 03 September 2019

Femme Fatale: Andy Warhol’s Muse & Would-Be Assassin Collide In Dark Comedy About Fame, Failure & Feminism

Femme Fatale, the imagined meeting between activist Valerie Solanas and singer Nico, asks what might have happened if two female visionaries with very different methods had locked horns. 

With women's ownership of their stories, their image and their bodies still firmly on the news agenda, Femme Fatale draws parallels between 60s feminism and today, and throws into relief how much further there is to go.

Writer and performer Polly Wiseman says: 

"I'm bored to death by likeable female characters - which is why I wanted to write about Teutonic junkie Nico and "crazed feminazi" Valerie Solanas. 

"Both revolutionaries, in their different ways, their legacies have been all but ignored in favour of more compliant and prettily-packaged women. 

"But thirty years after they both died, their work continues to inspire many artists and activists. 

"As hilarious as they were uncompromising: their views on men, music, fame and feminism are outrageous and deadpan, tender and truculent.  


"More than a hundred years since women got the vote, recent events in America and at home remind us that our right to control our bodies and our stories is still not a given. 

"The time seems ripe for this reimagining of two female pop culture icons at the epicenter of 60s cool, battling for control of their own destinies."

1968. New York. Nico, singer with The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol's Superstar, waits to shoot his latest movie when her Chelsea Hotel room is invaded by radical feminist Valerie Solanas. 

She wants the celebrity's help to spread her message of female revolution, but Nico only craves drugs to insulate her from her pain. 

A darkly comic battle begins, between two iron-willed opponents who could change their futures, if only they would become allies. 

New writing meets live music and super-8 film in a cabaret set up for an evening of intimate theatre, with an opportunity for audiences at three East Sussex venues - Kino-Teatr, St Leonards, Depot, Lewes, and The Latest Musicbar, Brighton - and online to help write a new feminist Manifesto for today.  


Valerie Solanas was a radical feminist, best known for writing the SCUM Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), and attempting to murder Andy Warhol in 1968. 

In 2018, Lena Dunham played her onscreen in an episode of American Horror Story and her legacy is being re-evaluated by a new generation of feminists.  

Nico (Christa Päffgen) was a German singer-songwriter, model, and actress. 

She appeared in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita and Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls and sang with The Velvet Underground. 

As a solo artist, she earned cult fame as the Godmother of Goth, influencing Siousxie Sioux, Bjork and Bat for Lashes, amongst others. Both women died in 1988. 

Fireraisers is a female-led company presenting 'extraordinary theatre in unexpected places'. Based in Sussex, they perform new work nationally. 

Femme Fatale plays Kino-Teatr, Norman Rd, St Leonards, on 21st September 2019 - Depot, Pinwell Road, Lewes, on 29th September 2019 - The Latest Musicbar, Manchester Street, Brighton, on 2nd & 3rd October 2019. CLICK HERE for updates.

by: Mike Cobley




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Originally conceived as a solo project by Siobhan Fahey, Shakespears Sister were thus born by a one-time punk turned chart-pop singer who left girl-group Bananarama in the late eighties.

Accidents, heartbreak and a career curse plagued Brighton-duo Blood Red Shoes on the road to their new LP, the appropriately and knowingly-titled, Get Tragic. 

Lemon Jelly producer Fred Deakin's The Lasters is an ambitious new solo project inspired by classic concept albums like The Who's Quadrophenia and Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds.

Having just got off the road from supporting Pixies, The Big Moon will be heading to Brighton, early next year, in support of new album, Walking Like We Do.

In Daniel Rachel's book Walls Come Tumbling Down, he reports that on 5th August 1976, on stage at the Birmingham Odeon, a drunk Eric Clapton harangued an audience of 2,000 rock fans. 
Credit Helen Murray

It is the part that restarted Laurence Olivier's career. Corin Redgrave performed it late on in life. Michael Gambon did so on screen. Three years ago, Kenneth Branagh took it on in the West End. Now, this autumn, it's Shane Richie's turn ..

You will have seen Henry Paker's name whizz by as a writer on the credits of a huge variety of comedy shows, from Michael McIntyre's Big Show, Eight Out Of Ten Cats, and Mock The Week all the way to Comic Relief and Top Gear. 

The University of Brighton will launch Brighton CCA, the first major new contemporary arts gallery in the city for twenty years, on Saturday 19th October 2019. 

At a time when LGBTQ+ education in schools is being protested; when the scourge of anti-Semitism is rearing its head on the political left as well as the right; Jewish graves desecrated with swastikas and religious and queer people are attacked in their community spaces – Becoming Electra presents an uplifting, challenging and hopeful story of a proud, queer Jewish girl finding her voice.
(c) The Unthanks 2018

The Emily Brontë Song Cycle is a work commissioned by the Brontë Society, written and recorded using Emily Brontë’s piano in her home, by composer, pianist and producer Adrian McNally of the band The Unthanks, and performed with sisters Rachel & Becky Unthank.
Credit Philippa Barr

‘Children are curious and accepting. Teaching them that "different" is not bad is key to the eradication of forms of hate, not just homophobia. The question I often get asked is: "Are you a boy or a girl?". The answer I give is, "I am whatever you want me to be!" According to one boy, I'm now a unicorn.’
Credit Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

As Frankenstein arrives at Theatre Royal Brighton for a week of performances, Rona Munro discusses (below) her new adaptation of Mary Shelley's Gothic masterpiece which places the writer herself (depicted by Eilidh Loan) amongst the action, as she wrestles with her creation and with the stark realities facing revolutionary young women, then and now.

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