What do you see when you walk the streets of Bristol? Do you hear the cat calls? Do you see into the eyes of women who walk the curbs at night? Things We Do Not Know uses verbatimtheatre, music and dance to recount the stories of women who have fallen into sex work amongst the streets we know and love.
‘I would be a prostitute if I could meet the Queen! I would be a prostitute if it could solve world hunger […] if someone else’s life depended on it, if I had no choice…’ – Things We Do Not Know
Performed at People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC) and working in collaboration with the charity One25, this piece of theatre is striving to make a difference. I had a chat with the cast to hear their stories behind the creation of Things We Do Not Know.
‘I think it’s been so well received because we’re talking about down the road, outside this building, people know the areas. When we usually think of sex working we see it as aseparate world. We strip it right back, take away the drugs and the addiction and just say, ‘I’m looking for something to love and for something to love me.’
We originally performed in 2016 and 2017, but I think since then it’s more mature and as we developed in our personal lives, so did the piece. We approach it differently each time and how it makes you feel changes. The space also dictates the performance and how you respond.
Our favourite space so far hasprobably been here, because it feels like a community space. There are blankets, cups of tea and that’s what we’re trying to do, open up a discussion. There isn’t any judgement here, the status is broken and we’re on a journey together. It’s more storytelling, that’s what we are, story tellers.
We’ve been doing the play for four years now and there is a fear of being detached as a coping mechanism. But, we’ve all visited One25 and the woman are full of humour and life. That’s how they see life. It’s important to find those aspects in the women you are portraying, because their trauma is not all they are. They are real woman that laugh and still find humour.
If I could give advice to my 17 year old self it would be that it’s okay to be sad and cry if you need to, it’s okay to be weak. You don’t have to pigeon hole yourself, don’t allow others totell you what you should be, you can be anything you want. Don’t be scared to say no, especially if you feel something isn’t right. You might feel thatyou’re upsetting the other person, but in that moment you’re upsetting yourself. I would say that women have a massive platform, which is clear to tell our stories. Use that platform because we have a voice.
The biggest thing I’ve learnt is there is always something you can relate to. It used to make me feel uncomfortable because I’ve had completely different experiences, but we all know what it’s like to be cat called or the anxiety you feel at a bus stop. If you can imagine that then you can start to imagine what it must be like for women on the streets. Someone will always be there, even if it’s unexpected. Human connection is a wonderful thing.’
Things We Do Not Know does not leave you as a helpless bystander. It provides you with the knowledge that we can all make a difference. There is hope. If you would like to learn more about the charity One25, please click this link: https://one25.org.uk/ and show your support. Want to know more about Things We Do Not Know? Read Kerrie’s experience here.
My thanks to the wonderful creative team and inparticular the cast who provided such a beautiful interview; Ciara Flint, Ellie Buckingham, Ella Lamprell, Hannah McLeod, Keziah Spaine, Isabella
Simpson, Layla Madanat, Shiquerra Robertson.
Interview conducted by Emma Carey and Kerrie Nicholson.
Written and edited by Emma Carey.