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Celebrating International Women's Day: Meet Charmaine Wombwell

Charmaine Wombwell in Scarlet Shambles: It Used to be Me

To mark International Women’s Day on 8th March Stratford Circus Arts Centre have put together a mini-festival of performance and events by women. Run Riot talks to Charmaine Wombwell whose show Scarlet Shambles: It Used to be Me is a part of this celebration of women.

Run Riot: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Charmaine Wombwell: I am a theatre, art and music maker who grew up in London to Deaf parents. My first language is BSL (British Sign Language), with English coming a very close second. Me and my two siblings are either professionals musicians, or musically talented, which we put down to never being told to shut up, so we could practice and make as much noise as we wanted.

RR: How did the idea of your show come about?

Charmaine: I had just come out of physical theatre and clown training during which I had had an interesting experience experimenting with one of my songs. A lot of my songs have a bitter-sweet tinge (being about having my heart broken usually) and I decided to try playing one of them and crying to my class. Everyone laughed. Hard. Like a surprising amount, and I thought ‘this is interesting, lets see what I can do with the rest of my songs!’ So over the next year or so, Scarlet Shambles: It Used to be Me was created.

RR: What should the audience take away from your show?

Charmaine: I hope that the audience leaves feeling a bit changed I guess. I enjoy theatre that makes you feel all the feels, so that is the type of show I like to make. Ultimately I think the piece is uplifting. It’s about continuing, boldly jumping into love even though you've been hurt before. And it’s funny. Ideally people will also take away slightly stronger abs through laughing. Ideally.

RR: This year International Women's Day challenges us to #BeBoldForChange. Who has inspired you to be bold for change?

Charmaine: Nina Simone, for a multitude of reasons but to state a few: Her relentless passion and complete dedication to her artistry, her vehemence in her fight for equality during the Civil Rights Movement, and her unapologetic ability to be herself. Sometimes I doubt myself, and how I am making my work, because I worry it doesn’t fit in with what people want or expect, and then I realise I don’t have to fit into anyone else’s idea, I can make my own space, and not apologise for it.

RR: Finally, do you have any advice for young girls looking to produce their own work?

Charmaine: I would say that everything takes longer than you expect! And there is often a reason for that. Allow yourself space to grow. Do things, try things. Just try and get it wrong, and keep trying. And believe in what you are doing, if you don’t, then maybe you aren’t doing the right thing. And that’s fine, just keep looking for the right thing, it might surprise you. Sometimes it lands in your lap when you don’t expect it. Keep yourself open to new ideas - there is no one way to do this job! And keep learning; because you will never know it all, there are always more questions. Keep being curious and trust yourself.

Celebrating International Women's Day

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, and to celebrate some of the inspiring, creative women working across the arts, Stratford Circus Arts Centre have put together a mini-festival of performance and events by women. Crossing music, theatre, spoken word, talks and comedy, they’ll be presenting some rising talents, free events in the foyer and workshops to take part in. Find out more here.