Totnes XX is a brand-new boutique festival combining music, film, comedy, art, debate and workshops, and taking place in multiple venues across the town over the weekend of 7th-10th March to coincide with International Women’s Day 2019.
The packed programme of events kicks off with a special edition of the popular Chapter 12 Comedy Club in the Barrel House on Thursday 7th March.
On Friday 8th, Faeland, a contemporary folk duo from Bristol led by songwriter Rebecca Nelson, bring their uniquely-crafted acoustic sound to the Ballroom.
Alternatively, for a grungier kind of Friday night, Generating Steam Heat presents four women DJs playing the best in punk-attitude female singers and musicians. This will be happening at a secret venue in town by invite only; invites will be available by contacting Totnes XX or Generating Steam Heat directly.
Saturday night will see the Pembrokeshire-born Bryde return to Totnes following her well-received appearance at Sea Change last summer. Bryde, aka Sarah Howells, is a woman and an electric guitar playing fierce and fragile songs. Swaying from vulnerable to uncompromising, Bryde is a formidable stage presence not to be missed. The full line-up for Saturday evening will also include ‘Pale Blue Eyes’; the new project from Lucy and Matthew Board, plus female-heavy Totnes band ‘Pavlova’ who have just released their first EP. The evening will begin with a debut appearance of a very special Girls Rock collective from members of local youth-music project Jamming Station.
Totnes cinema will be screening a collection of films over the weekend that pass the ‘Bechdel Test’ (defined as a work which features at least two women talking to each other about something other than a man) including another opportunity to see Agnes Varda’s award-winning documentary ‘Faces Places’, and a screening of the 2018 Totnes Women’s Voices Project with live music from a pop-up choir as well as some short films by local film-makers.
The cinema will also play host to ‘Generation XX’, a Question Time style debate at lunchtime on Saturday, with a panel of participants of all ages discussing and reflecting on current issues that face us all, from a female perspective.
Meanwhile, down at the iconic Gatehouse building (the clock tower in the centre of the High Street) there will be an exhibition of work by female, starting on Wednesday and running for a whole week. Then on Saturday and Sunday we are hosting a variety of craft and creative workshops for the whole family, including making reusable waxed food wraps, Pom-Pom ornaments, creative writing, DJing, radio broadcasting, drawing, Dada mask-making and a knit-and-knatter café.
And to brush off the cobwebs on Sunday morning we are offering some physical fun for all ages including walking netball, and some other taster sessions will be happening down at the Pavilions and in the park.
Event co-ordinator Lee Friese-Greene says “I was frustrated by routinely seeing mostly male performers at local venues, and at one festival I attended last summer fewer than 10% of the performers on stage were women, yet I know there are plenty of amazingly-talented female artists and bands out there. I began to think about ways to get their voices heard. At first it was just going to be a gig, but then I got talking to some of the many inspiring local business women we have in this town, and now we have ourselves a 4-day, multi-arts event!”
However, Lee is keen to stress that Totnes XX isn’t just by or for women. “The theme for this years International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, and ‘balance’ was a key factor in assembling this programme; it is not about men v women, it is about tipping the scales more in favour of female artists, creating events that are more inclusive, and that have more gender-equal participation. We aim to challenge the default expectation that a gig or comedy night, or movie, will predominantly feature men on the stage or in the director’s chair”.
Further programme details and links to all events can be found via the Totnes XX Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Totnesxx/
Also checkout the ‘Totnes XX Radio Show’ on SoundArt Radio on alternate Monday evenings from 28th January between 7-8pm where Lee will be making further programme announcements as the date get nearer.