Daniel Perks, London Theatre Bloggers
"Pandora is conceptually profound and elegantly realised...surreal concept and sharp narration"
Full review can be found here.
"Etch is a headlong jump taken by two brave artists to build something new. It is a community, and a cause."
Nina Sophia-Miralles, Londnr Magazine.
Full feature on Etch by Nina Sophia-Miralles in Londnr Magazine can be found here.
Pandora is the brain-child of the innovative artistic duo Grace Chilton and Paksie Vernon. Grace and Paksie performed the first version of Pandora as a 20 minute scratch for Etch010 in summer 2016. Initially directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike, it was clear that Pandora was a vital piece of work. Etch are delighted to have been developing the project with Grace and Paksie since that first outing. By the end of summer 2016, Pandora, in it’s ever changing, twenty minute monologue form, had been presented by Etch at the launch of Soho venue Live at Zedel and at Riverside Studios’ Unscene Festival.
Led by Etch Resident Director Debbie Hannan, we continued to develop Pandora through the autumn and winter of 2016.
Pandora explores the ways in which the ancient myths we carry and the modern narratives we make have the power to shape and break us. It’s the story of two people, trying to make decisions, amidst all the noise. With a live music score, Pandora takes us to the darkest corners of being a woman, before quietly tunnelling us back out.
After a year of development, Pandora has evolved from a 20 minute scratch piece by two drama school friends into a daring and innovative full length play.
Please join us at Pleasance Theatre, Islington from tonight until the 11th March.
Director Debbie Hannan on Pandora
Why do you think Pandora is an important story to tell?
I think we desperately need new stories about women that don’t follow old structures or old tropes. And I think that pandora is one of those but is also questioning those. I think that otherwise we normalise myths wheather old or new about the way that women have to be and this is an attempt to peel back the skin of that.
What does being a women mean to you?
It means having a structural disadvantage. But it also means having a camaraderie. It means anxiety and bravery. It means thinking about your weight and thinking about world politics. It means getting interrupted a lot. It means finding a really loud voice to say really important things. It means that secret look you give that female friend when a guy is being an idiot. It means inclusion. It means anarchy and rule breaking and freedom.
What do you think is the biggest challenge still facing women today?
Even though we have increased knowledge and awareness of feminism, we have been knowing and known the problems for a long time. The next step is exploding the current power structures into something new and finding the mechanism to do that. And change only comes with unrest and discomfort and ugliness and a hope that the next step is that we find a way to manifest change.
Why should audiences come to see Pandora?
People should come and see Pandora because it has gods and humans and monsters and they're all pretty much the same thing. It has brilliant writing and beautiful music. It has sex as a bad thing and more rarely, sex as a good thing. It has gaping loneliness and phenomenal cosmic powers. And it's sad and funny and worms its way in right to the rotten bits of your heart and gives them a second chance.
performer and musician paksie vernon on pandora
How much does the myth of Pandora relate to the play Pandora?
The myth was a starting point, a springboard to what we have created. We wanted to look at female sexuality. The purpose of the Pandora myth seems to be to curtail female curiosity and to tell women that there is something intrinsically harmful and dangerous in their sexuality. We still hold onto that messaging today. Wanting to explore the myth in a modern context was the basis of our show.
What does being a women mean to you?
The pressure to be a certain way, to look a certain way, to behave a certain way. Expectation of women to be decorative - but then the pressure to not sound angry about that fact. The pressure to be perfect is something I want to change; the running on a hamster wheel to reach perfection. A gain as a women is that culturally we are allowed to be more vulnerable with each other which allows for deeper connections, and masculinity does not seem to permit that as much.
What can audiences expect from Pandora?
Straightforward storytelling, beautiful writing and atmospheric music.
What do you love about creating Pandora?
Getting to work with my friend who I really respect and being able to work in this great team. I am enjoying playing with the form and with the music.
A Play on a Wall.
"Pandora is a unique new work, by two fresh and distinct voices which Etch have been supporting in the long term, and as resident director, I'm thrilled to be directing it at the Pleasance this year. Paksie and Grace are bringing the untold story of a woman in crisis, next to the age old story of a Goddess in doubt, and bringing their own twist to it. As a company, we've been delving in depth to some of the darkest corners of being a woman, and finding ways to tunnel back out of them. I think Pandora will move people to think about where in their life they are free and where they are trapped, and question what it takes to cause change. We're also peeling back some of the oldest stories that form our idea of womanhood, and I'm excited about the prospect of audiences rewriting some of those old ideas into something new."
Debbie Hannan, Director.
Writer and performer Grace Chilton on PANDORA
What does Pandora mean to you? Why is it an important story?
Origin of sin stories have a huge responsibility in our attitudes towards sex and gender, in a way we’re not really conscious of. The stories that we tell ourselves shape the way we think, who we become and how we act, so where we place our belief and in what is powerful and important. Of course it’s just a story, nobody thinks it’s real, but what is very real is what’s behind the story that’s important and needs re-dressing.
How did your journey start with Pandora?
Paksie had the idea to do something with the myth of Pandora, a story of empowerment at its core. She’d written some music and I wrote a thing in response to that. We then performed it at a Scratch night with Etch at the Peckham Pelican, at New River Studios and at Live at Zedel, so got to put the 20 minute piece in front of different audiences, see how it changed and think about how it could develop.
What do you see to be the biggest challenge still facing women today?
The idea that feminism isn’t about equality. Or perhaps the now democratically elected leader of the free world President Donald Trump saying “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."
How have your experiences as a woman/as a person/as an artist so far shaped your work on Pandora?
I was thinking about vulnerability I suppose…The last piece I wrote was an exploration of theatricality and story telling stylistically so was then interested in the opposite; vulnerability in performance, what the hell that might look like, and what experience that might give an audience.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being glad I’m a woman. Being terrified of lingerie. You need a degree in engineering to walk into Anne Summers. Being able to wear skirts or trousers have long or short hair and not having the historical weight of white male privilege on my shoulders. However, it can sometimes also means the sum of my personality = the proportions of my body and face and wearing
flat shoes so I can run away.