The creation of a performance about menopause

by the Flames, & "What is the best way to talk about menopause?"

As part of our Brigstow project, a Tricky Hat Productions and The Flames performance on the theme of menopause was to be put on by Yvonne and the OnFife team. This sounded like a huge challenge, especially during the pandemic and lockdown, but the process itself was amazing. Yvonne and the OnFife Team’s Pause Not Full Stop series of events formed an ideal setting for the performance. You can see a video of Yvonne outlining their work and the connections with the Tricky Hat Production below.

OnFife and Tricky Hat Productions sorted out all the arrangements. Adverts were put out to recruit participants, and it turned out that there was much more interest than could be accommodated! The guerrilla sessions finally started with 10 women who brought together a vast range of experiences, impressions, stories, and talents. And luckily, lockdown was lifted just in time to prepare for and run the performance in real life! Over the course of five days, spread out over four weeks, the group explored their ideas and was challenged by Tricky Hat’s Artistic Director Fiona Miller to find different ways to express them. Vanessa was able to join the group for the final day of preparation and see it all come together and thoroughly enjoyed her time with the Flames!

The different stories and fragments created with the group were woven together by Fiona and supported by the Tricky Hat team who provide and control the audio-visual backgrounds, live music, and lighting.

The performance itself was an emotional roller-coaster dealing with a whole range of menopause issues – though the word menopause was never mentioned! The performance did however explore relationships in the ‘bride story’….

…the risks in women’s decisions taken in the past…

…considered how women feel inside during a hot flush…

…and how women can learn to enjoy being alone and explore the world.

The performance highlighted women’s superpowers: having a sixth sense, a positive mental attitude, and being able to conjure up a smile no matter what is going on around you.

There were segments on the rage, uncertainty and questions that can be felt during this time of life…

… and also the comedy, downfalls and delights of dating and still wanting to be sexually active.

A beautiful song was written and performed that summed up many of the emotions: “Inside I flicker like flames in a fire…”. You can hear part of the song if you watch the video linked below.

The audience reaction was great! People stayed to chat over a tea or coffee (afternoon performance) or glass of wine (evening performance) and everybody we spoke to afterwards was extremely positive. It is clear that, even without mentioning the word ‘menopause’, the performance stimulated conversations about it and that there is a collective sense of needing to tackle menopause to help women who experience it.

This short video provides an insight into the performance and the audience reaction.

Find out more about Experimental Partnership “What is the best way to talk about menopause?”.