My name is Fauve Alice Bickerstaffe.

I’m a theatre maker. I make performance I, that’s in a variety of contexts. I work as a director and as a performer umm and also facilitator, err and I work in different areas like cabaret, performance art, live art and then more traditional theatre.

Well first I was working for Spare tyre as a performer on the Garden project which was, a project which is still touring now. I’d always sort of been like, umm, poking Arti about doing some clown workshops because I originally trained as, in… in at clown school in Paris. So I said “look I’ve really want to do a project called Nights at the Circus” and then wrote out a little application and yeah luckily they said yes.
When we got into the room with Ellie, Ellie Mason and David Munns, and also a friend of mine called Jasmine Lee, it sort of became really quickly apparent that we were not going to make the adaptation of ‘Nights at the Circus’ by Angela Carter. Err they wanted to explore more about gender and sexuality and I think I was bringing like a lot of ideas in the room and then we were sort of stripping away what we were interested in and we weren’t interested in. So I, we sort of quickly find out like what David was really interested in, creating different drag personas and then Ellie, I mean, we were trying really really hard with Ellie not to do a character which was about love because I think she was quite used to doing characters who were in love and then she… it was like in the second day of rehearsal at the end of rehearsal, she was like “I don’t want to do a character about, who’s falling in love! I want to do a character who wants to have sex!” and we were like “okay (laughs) okay.” So we were like “okay let’s leave that there and bring that into the room, tomorrow (laughs) and we’ll continue working” and then that’s how her character sort of started to develop and umm after that ten days we did a little work in progress showing, which people seemed to really like and respond to and then from that we started the processes developing the show over six weeks and it’s sort of a show about desire and a show about sex and err how our different identities intertwine with that.

I’ve been told it’s (laughs) quite difficult and like provocative thing to watch. For me it’s not, it’s not a provocative performance but to other people it is but then that’s because we’ve been in the room making it and, and therefore everything we’ve done hasn’t been to be provoked. It’s just been to be like express and I think we needed the space I guess to really go into those, those areas without any expectation and without any sort of outside eye wanting it, to make it into like a sellable product. They’ve trusted me to just make the show without any sort of like… err without overseeing like wanting to sort of keep tabs on it. They were sort of like “okay, yup, I’ll see it on opening night” (laughs) and I was like “okay (laughs) sure” err which… which is amazing and and I don’t think any other organisation really gives somebody that level of freedom to do that and that level of trust so as an artist I think I’ve really developed through Spare Tyre.

Our daily lives are so removed from arts that we disconnect it and we see art as more of a high-brow thing or, or something that’s for a specific group of people and I guess with participatory arts it allows you to break that and the process becomes a lot more important and the will and the need of people you’re working with becomes a lot more important. I… I like to find the boundary between what’s, participatory arts and what’s, like… what’s art? I… I dunno it’s it’s a fictional boundary anyway… cos it, it’s all art and sometimes you feel like participatory arts is just a way of like, putting something in the corner and saying that it doesn’t have value as real art. There’s so many terms that need to be interrogated and picked apart because, and who is allowed to say that participatory arts is… lower quality. I think it’s just a different way of looking at and facilitating an artistic experience and finding what’s important in that journey of making something

Fauve is an artist working in theatre and performance art both in the UK and internationally. Fauve joined Spare Tyre in 2014 on our internship programme, she’s since become a regular performer on our flagship show The Garden and in 2018 became one of our Associate Artists. In 2017 she developed Nights at the Circus which we co-produced, this show explored themes of sexuality and was devised in collaboration with disabled artists.
Fauve talked to us about the process of making Nights at the Circus and the definition of ‘participatory arts’.