Over the years, our Arts programming asked important questions about gender and sexuality in today's modern world.
Gender and sexuality programming
We partnered with the Fledgling Fund and Women Make Movies to present a series of public screenings of the award-winning documentary 'Dreamcatcher', a film that explores the hidden world of prostitution through the eyes of one of its survivors, Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute who worked the streets of Chicago, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community. With warmth and humor, Brenda gives hope to those who have none. Her story is their inspiration. The screening tour visited several US cities from September to November 2015. Post-screening discussions featured Brenda Myers-Powell and producer Lisa Stevens, plus local city advocates.
In 2013, the British Council supported the touring production of 'Roadkill' in the United States, and organized a public policy program to discuss the issue of sex-trafficking.
Cora Bissett’s critically-acclaimed play, 'Roadkill', was the first production in Edinburgh Fringe Festival history to win every major theatre award in 2010. Roadkill is based on a real-life encounter with a young woman who has been trafficked from Nigeria to the US and forced into prostitution. Staged in a seemingly normal apartment, the site-specific nature of the work places the audience in the young woman’s world, as they witness in close quarters how her hopes of a new life are turned into violent scenes of brutality and captivity.
The US premiere of this work toured in Chicago and New York City, showing at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre from May 11 to 28, 2013; and at St Ann's Warehouse in New York City from June 4 to 30, 2013. We organized a showing of 'Roadkill' for professionals from the legal and law enforcement fields, including the NYPD and FBI, and the corrections sector in New York City. By seeing the harsh realities dramatized in this performance, this select group was able to intellectually and emotionally connect with the social injustice it exposed, and share their experience of this piece with their peers.
'Roadkill' Public Policy Program on sex trafficking
The British Council organized a public program to complement the US tour of 'Roadkill', to increase public awareness of the issue of sex-trafficking. Through a series of public discussions with leading experts, we reached new audiences, enabled important policy dialogue, and created a project legacy through digital and print publications to enrich the experience of seeing the play. The program was delivered by British Council in partnership with the presenting theatres, universities, advocacy groups, government and law enforcement.
Just Like a Woman Exhibition
In 2015, the British Council supported 'Just Like a Woman', a two-day program of shows, debates, lectures, installations and screenings looking at the at the performance of identity – the ways femininity can be 'performed' and representations of gender can be queered through performance. The program took place at Abrons Art Center, with support from London's Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and Chelsea Theatre.
With women performing women, women performing men, men performing women, and artists who go beyond the limits of gender altogether, Just Like A Woman featured an array of US and UK artists including Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw, CHRISTEENE, Narcissister, Kris Grey, Dickie Beau, Lucy Hutson, George Chakravarthi, Harold Offeh, Lucy McCormick, The Girls and The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein.
Just Like A Woman was part of the Live Art Development Agency’s Restock, Rethink, Reflect initiative on Live Art and Feminism, and followed their hugely successful Access All Areas event on Live Art and Disability at Abrons in 2014.