Get To Know: Sh!t Theatre
Photo: Field and McGlynn
Sh!t Theatre are multi award-winning duo Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit. They've been told many times by theatre professionals to change their name. Their work is informed by their trained disciplines of music, performance art and long-form improvisation and they consider performing the 'sh!t' to be theatrically political and use different theatrical and artistic devices. Following a sell-out run at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe, they've announced a full UK tour of DollyWould, their raucous, irreverent love-letter to Dolly Parton, beginning with a month-long run at the Soho Theatre. We caught up with Mothersole and Biscuit to talk about what drew them to Dolly.
Hi! Okay, first things first. How did you both meet, and why did you bring Sh!t Theatre into being?
We came into being as a vag-block for Louise. We were both making solo work and she was asked to perform at a night run by a woman who was trying to get into her knickers. She agreed ‘just so long as my friend Becca can come too’. And thus we were born.
Can you tell us a little about what Dolly means to you, and how you landed on her as a starting point for your show?
We got drunk with our mate Russell Lucas and decided to make a show about something we both love - Dolly. Dolly is a funny, smart, weird, successful, talented, queer artist. We admire her for all her contradictions.
It must have been so much fun to devise.. How did that process compare to your previous, more overtly political works?
We started writing DollyWould in 2016 amongst a political climate of How-Can-it-Get-Worse of Brexit and Trump. Everything we’d made up to this point had been written from a place of anger. So we decided - this time - we’d make a show from a place of love. And in a way, it was much harder.
How important is it to get personal in your performances?
We see the personal as political, and every political show we’ve made has been rooted in specific personal experience.
To what extent is it important to you to have a specific message identifiable in each of your shows?
Not important. We’re aiming for the grey, complicated areas.
What advice would you give to a young girl trying to break her way into the industry?
Peggy Shaw & Lois Weaver of Split Britches told us to not have a Plan B. If you have a Plan B, you’ll use it.
What’s next for Sh!t Theatre?
We’re currently up in Manchester directing/devising She Bangs The Drums with Contact Young Company to celebrate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act. Then DollyWould opens at the Soho on 19th March for a month, then off on tour with the show, then in June we’re heading to Malta to start work on a new show. Working title (and description of our activities while we are there) is Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum With Ex-Pats. We are also finishing our show No Refunds and for that we need to make the giant human-sized hamster wheel we had made actually safe for us to use.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Can you name a recent show that really blew you away?
Becca: went to the National for the first time in years recently and got the last tickets to that night’s performance of Network.
Louise hasn’t seen anything that blew her away since Baddies The Musical at the Unicorn.
What was the last book you read?
Louise: On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Becca: We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler
Oliver Young, a man who overheard us talking in the museum café we are working in and decided to join the conversation: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (he says it was very intense).
Favourite Dolly Parton song?
OH GOD WE CAN’T CHOOSE... Currently we’ll go with 'Little Andy'.
London or Edinburgh?
Edinburgh. Apart from the weather and the trams.
Cats or dogs?
Becca: Dogs. I recently got a dog, I found her in the street in Spain. Her name is Nala KateBush Biscuit and she’s currently on heat. Thanks for asking.
Louise: Dogs trapped in cats bodies (not in a sexual way). (She meant cats with dog’s personalities). My cat's name is Reggie. She identifies as female.