The performer chatted to Emma Clarendon about the UK tour of ‘Baby Face’.
Hi Katy, for those who don’t know what is ‘Baby Face’ about? Baby Face is a performance about the infantilisation of women. We live in a society where paedophilia is not OK, yet fetishised images of women as pre-pubescent girls are. The show challenges the nature of complicity and conditioning when it comes to the messy moral questions that come up surrounding the idea of sexualising women as children.
How did the concept for the show come about? The inspiration for the idea came from a number of sources. I have received subtly infantilising treatment throughout my life because of the body that I have, and I wanted to explore the subconscious effect of this further. I have grown up in a culture saturated with pop references to infantile regression in the 90s and early 00s, I became interested in the process of creating this performance to explore where the impulse to infantilise women came from. My other interests were the imagery from anime cartoons of schoolgirls and child-women, as well as how the female voice is used in pop songs/K pop/bubblegum pop. From the cultural to the deeply personal, it was apparent to me that infantilisation runs deep in our society, and I wanted to create Baby Face to find out why.
What did you particularly want to focus on when the idea for ‘Baby Face’ came about? I wanted to focus on how my individual body related to the imagery of infantilisation both physically and emotionally. I think to focus on an idea such as infantilisation – which is full of voyeurism/pornography and passivity, I needed to explore Baby Face as a theatre show. It seemed appropriate to have a female performer create an extremely physical/bodily performance, where there is also strong use of the voice to counteract infantilisation in the form of the piece as well as on a thematic level. The act of performing is liberating and (hopefully) full of agency and power, which can transmit to the audience more than if the piece had been presented in any other way.
What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show? I want the audience to feel physically moved by the show in some way. Much of the material in the performance is action based/choreographic and dance related. The show also involves audience interaction, and messy liquids such as baby lotion and talcum powder. There is a high level of tactility in this performance where I want the audience to take away a palpable sense of the ideas in the show. I would also like them to consider how infantilisation of women and the sexualisation of the childlike is so strange considering the raw and primal reality of babyhood – pooing/weeing/dependency – how is this often imagined and confused with sexy qualities in our culture?
Are you looking forward to touring the show across the UK? I am really looking forward to touring the show across the UK. I am interested in how people will react to the piece in different contexts, how new audiences will change the show and add to what I am exploring. The show has developed hugely since its early incarnations. The piece has been created over a four year period, and in earlier versions it was explicitly autobiographical. The show has become more and more physical over time and starker, more stripped back in terms of the visual aspect of the piece. There is audience interaction in the piece, and this will constantly change throughout the tour depending on the place/audience – it’s a different show every time!
How would you describe the show? Baby Face is a show about an idea that is intimately connected with our everyday lives, our personal relationships and how women relate to themselves. This is a physical performance where I enter an emotional playpen, fuelled by drone rock and bubblegum pop. In Baby Face I ask people to throw themselves into the show by witnessing it, as much as I am doing by performing it. Come if you want to feel like your inside Snow White’s biggest nightmare and if you love the smell of talcum powder!
By Emma Clarendon
Baby Face continues to tour the UK until the 30th March.