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NEWS: Carnesky’s Finishing School arrives in Soho

Seminal performance school for ‘illegitimate entertainers of all persuasions’ takes over former Foyles basement on Charing Cross Road until January 2017.

Described as an esoteric St Trinian’s for the queer cabaret generation, Carnesky’s Finishing School has been helping people discover and hone their creative talent since 2011. Artist & Headmistress Marisa Carnesky, described by Paloma Faith as “the nearest thing I have to a mentor”, has helped launch a whole new generation of bold, transgressive performers onto London’s mercurial alternative cabaret/performance art scene, and is now bringing her school to the spiritual home of radical stagecraft.

Eschewing more traditional methodologies in favour of classes such as situationist clowning, esoteric PE, basic transmetaformism and unpopular expressionism, Carnesky’s Finishing School occupies a unique space in which emerging and novice performers receive a level of support, guidance and mentoring that is simply is not accessible elsewhere.

Marisa Carnesky: “Our ethos has always been to enable, nurture & empower people who may have no formal training or are from backgrounds or social groups that have traditionally had little access to affordable tutoring. So many of our students that have gone on to establish an artistic career simply wouldn’t have been able to afford, or feel suitable for, any of the more traditional learning environments. They come to us with the germ of an idea and by the end of the course they’re performing their self-created work on stage & in front of a paying audience. We’re not looking to create the next generation of west-end Wendies,, we’re more interested in developing those that don’t quite fit anywhere, the performers who operate in the margins between unpopular & popular culture. Participants are encouraged to create their own new transgressive works and identities unlike many other stage schools which encourage students to adhere to a generic corporate entertainment standards. We encourage our students to develop their own artistic languages so that they can go forth and change the world”

The school’s first Soho courses begin on the 16th September, and some places are still available. The first graduate show, open to the public, will be on 25th September. There are more than 15 courses & workshops available during the school’s Soho residency, including their legendary five-day intensives, ten-week evening classes & weekend workshops by guest artists & performers such as Scottee, Lucy McCormick, Mr Teds, Figs In Wigs & Owen Parry. LipSinkers legend Lisa Lee once again works with Carnesky to provide expert individual direction & guidance to the students.

“Where we really add value,” says Carnesky producer Lara Clifton, “is in the ongoing relationships that the school nurtures. All Carnesky graduates are made Fellows of the School, and the vast majority of alumni are incredibly supportive of each other - years later they still collaborate & attend each other’s performances. We recently put a ‘best of’ graduate show on at Latitude Festival, and the closeness of all the former students was a beautiful thing to be around. So many of them have continued to develop their performance careers in various Carnesky productions, and several former students who have expressed an interest in the production or technical aspects of what we do will be on board as production assistants during this residency. We’re very proud of that - the fact that we make the learning route from I’d like to try that to I’ve done that so direct.”

Maintaining the spirit of collaboration that is at the heart of the school, Carnesky’s has appointed John Lee Bird as Artist-In-Residence for the duration of their time in Soho. Bird has spent the last decade documenting the influential performers, muses, designers, musicians, poets and artists who have shaped London’s underground creative scene in his iconic ongoing  Before Encore portraiture project and the school will be exhibiting a rotating selection of these portraits until the end of December. The school will also have an events space open to the public from 6pm every evening, with live cabaret from current & former Carnesky students each night. The events space is a joint venture with long-time Carnesky collaborators Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, who have been providing a crucial platform for emerging performers for 16 years.

Key Dates:
CFS 5-day performance workshop: 16th, 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th September
CFS Soho launch event and Graduation Show - Sunday 25th September
John Lee  Bird private view - Friday October 7th

For press enquiries or image requests please contact Lara Clifton, lara@carneskyproductions.com, 07876 057 351

More Info
This project is Supported by Crying Out Loud, Soho Estates and Arts Council England