Girl World by FRISKY

Camille Dawson

December 5th, 2017

Who we are
We are Frisky - a newly formed performance collective. We make provocative, personal and playful work. From late November to early December 2017, we have been based at Platform, Southwark in a residency with Brainchild developing and performing our first full-length piece... Girl World.

The piece
Girl World is a coming-of-age comedy. It tracks the relationship of two best friends, Tilly and Inga, who are dealing with the pressures of the outside world without actually having experienced any of them. That’s because they exist in a bubble called Girl World with no contact with the outside world, where the one rule is ‘No boys allowed!’. But change is coming... their world soon changes from a land of rainbows and moonbeams to a foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed battleground with the stakes mounting as the girls vie for dominance.

So before we tell you about our time at Platform... we wanted to tell you about the origins of making the piece before we even got there.

The Origins of Girl World
Camille Dawson (co-writer of Girl World): When I was eight-years-old, me and two sisters, Molly and Una Richards, found a big roll of wallpaper. Upon it, we began a drawing that came to be called Girl World.  It depicted a girls’-eye utopia with everything a pre-teen female could dream about.  Working on it for weeks, then months, it became a huge scroll-of-a-world, with expansive femme-tastic landscapes.

As the scroll unfurled, Girl World began to stray from its origins. We became fascinated with the idea of boys, and then of sex. In spite of maintaining the rule that boys were banned from Girl World, we found subversive ways of sneaking them in. Paper engineering revealed naughty happenings: a girl might seem as if she was taking an innocent jacuzzi, but lift the flap and you behold a scene where she is having outrageous sex beneath.  This was naughty and fun and we egged each other on to conceive more outrageous ideas.  Soon there were zones where you could see boys locked in cages; then a huge insemination tank popped up where the girls would arrive with waiting receptacles. 

At about the same time, the ‘religion’ of Fatnaboona was imagined by our brothers, Franklin Dawson and Will Richards, who created it for a school project and then practiced and evangelised it with fervour.  We embraced the new religion eagerly, and Fatnaboona remains a household name to this day ... as do other ancient Richards catchphrases , ‘shinbonkin’ included. All of which we embedded into the fantasy world in the piece.

Jump cut to January 2017 and I visited New York City for a month. To set the scene... the city is in constant blizzard, Trump is being inaugurated as President and tens of thousands are protesting in the streets. Despite the grim circumstances, there is energy in the air of new beginnings which is inspiring people to come together. When I wasn’t protesting or partying, I immersed myself in experimental theatre, music, parties, and galleries. I have never been more inspired in my life. On this journey, I discovered the hilarious and unusual plays of Tina Satter. When leaving Ghost Rings, I was stunned by how the freaky kids reminded me of my childhood with the Richards. But when asking my friends if they found the characters familiar as I had, the shocked looks on their faces made me realise that perhaps we had a story to tell. So when wandering around the Museum of Modern Art the next day, the idea sparked to turn all this rich childhood history into drama.

Back in London, I teamed up with my father Paul and my brother Franklin to turn these ideas into a musical piece of theatre – Girl World. We wrote/composed it over February and March, cast it in September and in December, we got the opportunity to have a residency with Brainchild where the designers stepped in and the whole team assembled.

The residency
The 10 days at Platform was a whirlwind of creativity and discovery. Coming from a devising background we wanted to make sure that the piece had aspects of this. So the script was intentionally handed over to the production with chunks left to be developed through improv, workshopping and musical input. Here my wildly imaginative team {Serena, Lucy, Franklin, Paul, Ranya, Oscar & Olivia} helped bring this idea to life with explosive amounts of colour and vision. I have always worked on an ethos of if it’s fun for us in rehearsals, the energy and hilarity will translate to an audience. So we spent a lot of time making each other laugh, coming up with silly dances and experimenting.

We all worked in the same space developing the scenes, set and music to make the vision shared and cohesive. For me this has been the most invaluable outcome of having a residency here; being able to work collaboratively in one space. It has allowed dialogues between the different artistic disciplines that make up the show.

The days were long but the time went fast. And before we knew it we had created a play and transformed the warehouse-like space into a fantasy land for girls... with pom poms, dolls and knickers hanging from the ceilings, a multi-colored floor and lines of cushions for the audience to sit in.

The two nights of performance were so amazing! One of our gripes with theatre as a medium is that is can often be pitched as a stuffy unsociable form of art. So one of the ways we tried to combat this was by booking warm-up acts. Of which we were thrilled to have one piece from our own company ‘Schweat Fields’ and then another from a group called the BOOM BOX BABES.

What a joy it was to develop and show Girl World for the first time during this residency. It’s given us an immense kick-start to a long and exciting journey with the piece. And the audience responses have even inspired us to think about more shows to come... so definitely watch this Frisky space!

Thank you to Brainchild for this incredible residency and to Platform, Southwark for donating this space which enabled us to make this work.

Girl World by FRISKY
Inga: Serena Ramsey
Tilly: Camille Dawson
Musicians: Franklin Dawson & Oscar Lane

Written, Directed & Produced by: Camille Dawson
Co-written by: Paul Dawson
Co-directed by: Lucy Mann
Composed by: Franklin Dawson
Designed by: Ranya El-Refaey
Set Design Assistant: Olivia Douglass
God Robes: Pam Tait
Artistic Associate: Ailsa McKay