TESTOSTERONE at the Corn Exchange

This March, Rhum and Clay and Kit Redstone bring their game changing theatre show, TESTOSTERONE to the Corn Exchange for a two night run. Our Director Grant Brisland tells us why he was compelled to programme the show after seeing it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. 

I’m very fortunate that (pretty much) every year for the last 10 years I’ve been able to go to Edinburgh Fringe Festival to seek new talent and productions to present at the venues I’ve been working with. Although this can feel a little like a ‘busman’s holiday’ and seeing anything up to 9 hours of theatre a day can be quite exhausting, it is fair to say that it is a very privileged opportunity.

When seeing up to 9 shows a day for a week, you would be right to assume that I’ve seen my fair share of bizarre, wonderful, funny, and beautiful performances. I’ve also seen my fair share of naff stuff too; it’s almost like a rite of passage. Indeed there have been some years where I have come away having spent over 70 hours in an auditorium over the week and have seen nothing of good enough value to take back to the venue. Although that can be disappointing, Edinburgh Fringe Festival can be a bit pot luck.

But last year I came back having seen some of the best work I’ve ever seen at the Fringe. Some of it is being, or has been, presented at the Corn Exchange during the spring season. That includes Jess Robinson, Translunar Paradise, Tom Allen, and Education, Education, Education. However, there was one ‘stand-out’ production for me last year from Rhum and Clay, TESTOSTERONE.

You may be familiar with Rhum and Clay. They have previously been Associate Artists at The Watermill where they created and presented work such as Hardboiled and they’re a company, I believe, who have the potential to play a significant role in the touring landscape across the UK. I believe TESTOSTERONE is a turning point for the company and I was hugely honoured to be asked to join the company as a Trustee at the tail end of last year.  

For anyone who has seen the company, you will have enjoyed their style of storytelling and theatre making. The co-artistic directors, Julian and Matt (who also perform in the show), trained at the prestigious École Jacques Lecoq in Paris and their passion for their artform transcends through the theatre, enabling them to create very engaging pieces of performance.

However, this time they also teamed up with Kit Redstone to create TESTOSTERONE. Kit is a writer, director, performer and a trans man. He’s 30-something and has, in his own words, lived on both sides of the gender fence. That gives him a fairly unique perspective of the world and when partnered with Rhum and Clay, to create a retelling of the first time Kit entered the male changing room of a gym, we enter Kit’s world and get to understand his story.

Not wanting to give too much more away, I left the auditorium in Edinburgh feeling hugely privileged to hear and experience Kit’s story. It was one of those performances that gave me a new perspective of the world and it rightly challenged me. Kit’s naturalistic performance coupled with Rhum and Clay’s distinctive style created an endearing and powerful piece of theatre. It was pitched at exactly the right level and I felt I wanted every young person over the age of 16 to see this show. The theme of identity is an important subject matter and the show begins the conversation about the spectrum of masculinity, all of which makes it an important production. But we also get to hear about the experience of a trans man and it encourages one to think more widely and more deeply about the issues that the piece raises. When done well, that’s what theatre can and should be and why I felt compelled to bring the show to Newbury.

We’re offering reduced price tickets (£5) for young people under 25 and I can only encourage every open-minded, warm-spirited, person to attend. What's more, we're so sure that you'll enjoy the show, that we'll give you your money back if you don't!* I look forward to seeing you there.