Asking Nicely 2015 round-up

Three Weeks CoverThe 2015 Fringe was incredible. I felt like I was somehow cashing in all my chips from my previous years of flyering, bucket shaking, and running shows into one big, epic, media-splattered Fringe. Thank you everyone who came to my shows, wrote nice things, had a pint or a meal or a chat with me after the show. It was a hell of a ride!

I was interviewed by Three Weeks Magazine and Broadway Baby about Asking Nicely. I even wound up on the front cover of Three Weeks Magazine – which I didn’t even know poetry shows could aspire to!  Thanks to Loud Poet Carly Brown for the Broadway Baby interview, & Kat Gollock who took these gorgeous photos. You can see more of Kat Gollock’s photography here.

Three Weeks Magazine gave me this five-star review:

“It is hard not to love someone who is unapologetically themselves; most especially when it is Hannah Chutzpah. Charming, funny, and straight-shooting, Hannah stares gender, class and racial issues right in the face, as she dissects social conditioning in a whirlwind of beautifully crafted metaphors, alliterations and assonance. Permission? What is it? Are some people born with this privilege? In short – yes, they are, and Hannah cleverly educates us using a wide range of personal stories, and scientific research to wittily illustrate the complex (yet constantly mistaken for black and white) society that we live in. Hannah’s brave exploration of self sparks the questions of your own baggage, conditionings, and social status.”

L McKie writing for Broadway Baby gave me a four-star review:

“In her funny and articulate show, Hannah Chutzpah presents her considered and inspiring take on the complexities of power and permission. Through poems that are tightly crafted stories and chat that’s amusing and well-researched, she contemplates how social class, gender, race and personality all have a part to play in the risks we feel able to take in life. Telling the story of her own personal journey from isolated teen to confident performance poet, she reflects on privilege in all its forms and hypothesises on the thorny issue of social conditioning.

Her poems take us through a whole range of observations. She cleverly reveals how self-consciousness can be a self-fulfilling prophecy in a story about a shy young girl who keeps asking for permission for everything … Hannah asks nobody’s permission to vocalise her strong political and social opinions through her fiery poetry. This is an inspiring show, unapologetic in its assertion that everyone has the right to live life on their own terms.”

I also had some fantastic write-ups from a number of places:

Sarah wrote wonderful things for Opus Independents:
“Hannah Chutzpah links powerful poems about obedience, permission and consent with candid, nuanced discussion which is half sociology lecture and half impassioned mate down the pub. This show had me giggling, sobbing and punching the air. Sometimes simultaneously.” 

By Far the Best of Scotland mentioned me in the same breath as Carol Ann Duffy (2nd time that has happened – I am reeling):
“Chutzpah approaches the world in a witty and thought provoking manner, sharing stories in the form of poetry. Using wordplay and wit, Hannah Chutzpah dismantles the social norms surrounding politeness and the dynamics of permission. Asking Nicely will have you challenging many aspects of day-to-day life.” 

Feminist Festival did a lovely write-up of my show and Agnes Torok’s ‘If You’re Happy and You Know it Take This Survey’ – on just before my show at the same venue (it was a happy accident, but we made a great double-bill).

Zosia Jo picked out Asking Nicely as one of the top feminist shows at the Fringe.

On the day that Norwich Radical came to the show, they unfortunately had a live demonstration of macho entitlement and intimidation with 8 rugby-shirted punters at the venue who refused to move from the audience space but kept talking and jeering & behaved so badly that we wound up finishing the show outside the venue. (No thanks to the bouncer who did nothing.) However, luckily the show went well outside. *rolleyes*

Meanwhile, Politics and Progress wrote a whole blog post, riffing around the theme of permission, after seeing the show:

“Centred around the gendered concept of permission, Asking Nicely explored why we, and women in particular, feel the need to ask for permission to achieve what we want. Many people do not feel that they are automatically entitled to success, and feel uncomfortable simply grasping what they want instead of asking for it. Asking for permission is a more prevalent occurrence among certain groups of society (i.e., those who are not straight, white, able-bodied men in general), and of course by “asking for permission” I don’t mean that everyone should suddenly be rude to waiters in restaurants, or more seriously, ignore the need for consent (please, please, please do not ever ignore the need for consent). What I do mean is that, for example, women often feel less confident or willing to ask for a job promotion or a pay raise than men do, and this is due to the fact that from a young age, boys and girls are taught how to behave in subtly different ways.”
Read the whole post here.

The Twitter feedback blew me away. After the run was over, an audience member got in touch to tell me they were looking for a new job after seeing the show. They said “You gave me permission to look after yourself.” I don’t really have words for what that means to me – but thank you so, so much for letting me know.

The Fringe is bootcamp for the performing arts and I know I’ve got better every time I’ve gone up as a performer. Partly this happens because you’re practicing every day, (I’d never had to figure out sounddesks before, or finish a show outside before – but the whole audience followed – both times) partly because you’re seeing other great shows every day, and partly because acquaintances and cool people you’ve seen on stage become your peers – a community builds – and that in itself gives you more confidence for what to do in the year ahead. I’m certainly delighted that a lot of people I respect and admire came to see me doing a piece of work I’m very proud of, and there are a lot of poets I have even more respect for having seen their brilliant shows. And then we chatted down the pub and hugged and YAAAAAY.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m definitely standing taller and aiming higher than I was before. Thanks everyone. I’ve had a blast.


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