Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Sh!t Theatre: DollyWould

By | Published on Wednesday 14 March 2018

As you might know, because we exhibit our love for them on a regular basis, we here at TW Towers are huge fans of Sh!t Theatre, aka Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit.
Their latest show ‘DollyWould’ comes to Soho Theatre this month, and we are obviously excited because we already know it’s brilliant. Not just because we are psychic or have faith in the pair, but because we saw it in Edinburgh this summer and loved it.
So, we know quite a lot about the show, really, and what it’s about, but wanted to find out more about the inspiration for it, and how it was created, so I had a quick chat, ahead of the duo’s upcoming performances.

CM: What can we expect from the show? Is there a narrative, or is it an homage? Or both?
LM&RB: It is neither – it’s a Sh!t punk exploration of semiotics and the themes of death, immortality, cloning and branding, plus a tale of our friendship and a trip to Dollywood and the Tennessee Body Farm. You can expect music, sheep and giant boobs. This is our mainstream crossover hit.

CN: What is it you like about Dolly?
LM&RB: She’s just a really influential figure. We can’t think of another sheep who has had such a cultural or scientific impact.

CM: What made you decide to do a show focusing on her?
LM&RB: We decided to do a show about her because she was named our our favourite Country & Western singer.

CM: Do you explore any specific themes? Other than, er, Dolly?
LM&RB: There’s a famous story Dolly Parton tells of when she entered herself into a Dolly drag queen lookalike competition, and lost. That story is at the core of the show – where the signifier has overtaken the signified. The signifiers of Dolly – blonde hair, boobs, rhinestones – can be put on anyone or anything and they become more Dolly than Dolly is herself. The clone has won! And in this way, Dolly has become immortal. Her image can live forever. This was the starting point for an exploration of Dolly (the sheep) and cloning + Dolly (the woman) and her branding which includes her image and her personality and all the contradictions they contain.

CM: Did you have to do much research for this? What did you do to aid the creative process?
LM&RB: We did a lot of research *cough watched every Dolly film and interview ever made*. We had to learn about genetic science to understand cloning so we interviewed Dr Kat Arney multiple times and visited Dolly the sheep in Edinburgh.

We flew to Tennessee for 3 nights to go to Dollywood and to try to break into the Tennessee Body Farm which is just down the road from Dollywood and we began to see as the antithesis of Dollywood . Dollywood is all about preservation – of Tennessee traditions, of wild birds, or her own family and family home, or her image. The Body Farm is a place next door where corpses are literally left in the open air in a field to rot. Plastic immortality vs. deliberate decay. So we tried to climb over the fence and almost got arrested.

CM: It doesn’t seem to have as political a thrust as some of your previous work. Is there any reason for that? Is it a conscious shift?
LM&RB: 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 we fucking love Dolly. However, though it isn’t Political, it’s still political. Know what we mean?

CM: You performed this show in Edinburgh last summer. How did that go? Have you made any changes to the show since then?
LM&RB: It went very well thank you. We sold out all shows and extra shows and got great reviews which is very nice. We have only done it once since then and this is the start of the tour – we’re excited to get back to it. Our friends from Tennessee will be there on the first night. They can’t wait to see what we have to say about their home.

CM: What’s next for the show, after this?
LM&RB: We are off on a UK tour until July, then more dates in Autumn.

CM: What other projects does Sh!t Theatre have in the pipeline? What’s up next?
LM&RB: We just left Manchester where we’ve been 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 19 Mar 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.

CM: What individual projects do you have on the go?
LM&RB: Louise is currently in Ghent with Rachel Mars for ‘Our Carnal Hearts’ (Louise composed all the music). Becca is developing a show with Nick Field about neo-liberalism and Soho (and Tom Baker). It’s called ‘Paid Fantasist’ and will be on at Camden People’s Theatre.

‘DollyWould’ is on at Soho Theatre from 19 Mar-14 Apr, see the venue website here for more information and to book.

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