Kathy’s Parlour delighted and surprised audiences across London in summer 2017, popping up in town squares, at festivals and in shopping centres. Involving a makeshift outdoor hair parlour and a group of matching ‘Kathys’ with eccentric hair-dos, this immersive piece of street theatre was created by Levantes Dance Theatre and members of the Albany Young Creatives.
Passers-by can visit the outdoor hair parlour for a carefully crafted and coiffured do, with plenty of unexpected surprises along the way. They can also decorate Parlour with drawings, join Kathy for a cup of tea or have their photo taken inside.
”Once there was a girl called kathy, and she had two sisters – one called kathy and an older one called kathy.
The sisters were so pretty, kathy wanted hair just like them. She pulled and pulled and pulled at her own until, one day, her brain fell out.”
The performance is based around a decorated wooden Parlour. Audiences are invited inside in ones, twos and threes; as they peer into the private area of the Parlour, their photographs are taken with a flash.
Parlour is inhabited both inside and out by Kathys. These are performers in elaborate costumes and wigs who talk to the audience, pose for photographs, encourage visitors to decorate the exterior of the parlour with chalk and book appointments for the Parlour.
Parlour is an outdoor durational performance inhabited by the Kathys; commissioned by the Albany as part of the Circulate project and created by Levantes Dance Theatre and the Albany Young Creatives.
THE STORY SO FAR
In 2017, Levantes Dance Theatre partnered with Albany Young Creatives to recruit twenty young people aged 16-25 with an interest in outdoor arts, performance, design, production and touring. The Young Creatives were selected in May 2017, and took part in a series of workshops run by Levantes at the Albany, Deptford. The Albany Young Creatives are a collective of interdisciplinary artists and performers aged 16 to 25 who create original work and platforms to showcase young artists. It is run by the Albany in Deptford.
The workshop sessions saw the Albany Young Creatives work with Levantes to create a new outdoor performance piece; Parlour, which toured to four Outer London locations during summer 2017.
Lewisham Peoples Day, Lewisham
The Albany, Deptford
Mountsfield Park, Catford
Theatre Square, Stratford
Edmonton Green Shopping Centre, North Square
Bell Square, Hounslow
Deptford Library, Deptford
When asked about their experience, the Albany Young Creatives gave a positive response about their time working with Levantes Dance Theatre:
What have you learned during this project?
‘It’s been really great to see the development and growth of an outdoor piece of theatre, as this isn’t something I have been involved in before.’
‘How to create work that has impact and interacts with a public space and audience.’
‘The importance of offering stories, rekindling curiosity and breaking routine.’
‘I have learnt about the different jobs, aspects and tasks required to successfully run a creative event.’
What has the audience/community response been?
‘There were many different responses. They all loved us. Some thought we were strange. Others didn’t want to come near us.’
‘Mixed. It’s interesting to watch how people accept performance when its in a local outdoor space.’
‘I had never expected such an interest. Many people wanted pictures, kids enjoyed listening to stories about Kathy – we were playing with the boundaries of fantasy and reality.’
Commissioned and supported by Circulate and The Albany