The Lowry Theatre is set to host the multi-award-winning feminist show ‘Sexy Lamp’ this weekend.
The semi-autobiographical play follows the story of writer and performer, Katie Arnstein, as she tackles sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination during her move from the West Midlands to London to pursue acting a decade ago.
Arnstein explained: “It’s a show about me trying to pursue a career in acting and looking through a female view and looking into the challenges that women are faced with in work that are often unspoken and insidious.”
The actress moved to London in 2012, only to find a majority of the roles offered were either half-nude or non-speaking roles.
With reports showing that 4 out of 5 UK women have been victim to sexual harassment, alongside reports that only 5% of Salford-based rape cases lead to prosecution, Arnstein believed it was important to share her message through art.
She followed: “The show is called ‘Sexy Lamp’ after a test by [the American author] Kelly Sue DeConnick’s test for film and television… if the female character can be replaced with a sexy lamp, and the plot still functions, it fails the test.
“Once you know that, you can’t watch anything without realising how the women are there to purely be sexualised.
“It’s the big shows you don’t always notice – the women have something like 17 lines as a main character – they’re only there to be a sexual object and their story is just for titillation of the audience.”
Arnstein wrote the show after feeling empowered, not only be the sexism she faced in the acting industry, but also the everyday micro-aggressions that she felt she experienced.
She continued: “Sometimes the stories sound so unbelievable I’ve had to downplay some of my experiences to make it more palatable because I don’t want people to doubt what I, and many other women, have been faced with.
“Sexism isn’t just in the acting industry; I believe it’s in every aspect of our lives, from politics to a trip to the shops.
“It’s because of those negative experiences I realised that isn’t the work that I wanted to do. I felt really empowered through so much rejection and sexism. It was important to tell my story and do it through my own art.”
The show is produced by an all-woman team, written and performed by Katie Arnstein; directed by Ellen Havard and produced by Beccy D’Souza.
Since the play’s release in 2019, it has gone on to receive five-star reviews from the likes of ‘Broadway Baby’ and ‘VoiceMag UK’, as well as receiving funding from the Arts Council, and the National Lottery.
As well as this, the actress reflected on the positive impact the performance has had on its audiences.
She added: “I noticed a real difference with male audiences because, before that movement, men would say ‘I can’t believe that happened to you’, as the feminist movement is getting a new lease of life, men are saying ‘I’m sorry that happened to you, I’m going to bring awareness to what is happening’.
“The first step is we’re asking to be believed, the next step is to step up and support us.”
Salford-based feminist charities have spoken up ahead of Arnstein’s performance this weekend, expressing their gratitude for female solidarity.
Jess Harris and Jenny Holt of Salford University’s Feminist Society said: “People are afraid to talk about subjects that make us uncomfortable. But by not talking about them we are silencing people who need our support.”
Holt continued: “Through this theatrical piece, its easier for people to acknowledge what needs to be done.”
Arnstein spoke of her excitement ahead of her performance at The Lowry. She said: “I can’t wait. The Lowry is one of the theatres that was on my radar.
“I’m originally from the West-Midlands but knew of The Lowry even before studying. It was always on my wish list but in a sort of ‘I’ll never be there’ way. To be here after the year we’ve had, and with my own writing is bigger than any dream I thought I could have.”
‘Sexy Lamp’ will be showing on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th October at The Lowry Theatre. To book tickets or to access funding support, visit The Lowry website.