Panel announced for Bristol Old Vic’s all-women Medea event

Medea panel

L to R: Philippa Lowthorpe, Chino Odimba, Dr. Naomi Paxton, Cllr Estella Tincknell

On Friday 26 May, Bristol Old Vic is taking the radical step of hosting a performance of its politically charged Medea to an exclusively female audience. Directly after the show, there will be a panel discussion hosted by Bristol Women’s Voice about the issues raised in the production; of what it is to be a woman and a mother today, resisting the loss of identity, and the struggles some women undertake to find retribution in a system that is often unfair.

Bristol Old Vic today announced the panellists who will be taking part in a discussion: film and television director Philippa Lowthorpe, whose recent three part drama Three Girls looked at the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale; Bristol-based playwright and writer of Medea Chino Odimba; researcher, writer and performer Dr Naomi Paxton and Bristol Councillor Estella Tincknell.

The panel will be chaired by Jane Duffus, trustee of the charity Bristol Women's Voice since 2015. She is the founder of the all-female brand What The Frock! Comedy, which launched in 2012 to champion women in both comedy and the arts more widely. She has almost two decades of experience as a national newsstand journalist and is particularly interested in the areas of supporting women in the arts.

BAFTA-winning film and television director Philippa Lowthorpe directed the three-part BBC drama Three Girls which aired on 16-18 May and told the story of three of the children who were victims in the 2012 grooming and sex trafficking case in Rochdale. Her previous credits include Jamaica Inn, Call the Midwife, Five Daughters (2010), Beau Brummell: This Charming Man (2006), and The Other Boleyn Girl (2003). In 2013, Philippa became the first woman to be awarded a BAFTA for Best Director: Fiction. She directed the feature film Swallows and Amazons in 2016.

Writer Chino Odimba was born in Nigeria, raised in London and now lives in Bristol. She is the writer of Medea. Past work includes Women Embrace Two (Bristol Old Vic), An Ode to Adam (The Ustinov Theatre) and The Bird Woman of Lewisham (Story Project at Arcola Theatre). She has written for Clean Break and had work performed at the RSC and the National Theatre.  She is a winner of the Channel 4 Playwright Scheme and was a finalist for the Alfred Fagon Award (2014) and the Bruntwood Playwrights Award (2015) for her play Wild is De Wind. Chino is currently under commission for Eclipse Theatre’s Revolution Mix project (Bristol Old Vic), and as the Channel 4 Playwright at Talawa Theatre. She is also working on a modern retelling of Oliver Twist for Theatre Centre London (touring Autumn 2017), and has recently written a new short film Scotch Bonnet for BBC iPlayer. Chino was also writer-on-attachment at Bristol Old Vic in 2014.

Dr Naomi Paxton is a researcher, writer and performer. Her particular research interests include the performative propaganda of the suffrage movement, and the networks and cultural histories of political feminist theatre in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She is also an Associate Artist of the feminist production hub Scary Little Girls. Naomi produced Knickerbocker Glories, a triple bill of Suffrage plays that ran at the Union Theatre in London in June 2010, and co-produced Stage Rights! A Living Literature Walk in April 2013 and May 2016 and A Particular Theatre: Shakespeare, Suffragists and Soldiers in November 2016 with Scary Little Girls. She is one of the BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinkers, and is currently working at Parliament on the Vote 100 project ‘What Difference Did the War Make? World War One and Votes for Women’.

Estella Tincknell is Labour councillor for Lockleaze with special responsibility for Equalities, Culture and Events. She is also Associate Professor in Film and Culture at UWE with particular focus on gender and identity in music, cinema and media, and has published widely in both these areas. She is a member of the Women, Ageing, Media network of researchers, and her evidence contributed to the House of Lords Report on Women in Broadcasting published in 2014.  Until recently she also co-edited The Soundtrack, a journal of film and music.

Chair of Bristol Women’s Voice, Penny Gane said: "There is still a real need for spaces where women are able to come together to share and support one another, especially regarding the kinds of sensitive subjects that are addressed in a performance like Medea. It is very empowering to have this rare opportunity for a woman-only audience to look at the hidden experiences of women such as Medea/Maddy, who are mothers and homemakers and whose stories are so often unheard. This is why it is so important that Bristol Old Vic has agreed to offer this unique evening to the women of Bristol and we are very excited to be a part of this.”

Executive Producer of Bristol Old Vic, Chloe Elwood said: “When we spoke to Bristol Women’s Voice at the Medea press night, they talked to us about the relevance of the play and the value there would be on having one night held exclusively for an audience of women. This supported many of the comments we’d already had from audiences during the previews. It felt important enough to take a leap of faith and provide a place where issues of justice, social balance and voice are shared. Bristol Old Vic created Medea not as a historic Greek tragedy, but as a comment on the world we live in today. Theatre is not merely a place to be entertained with powerful stories. When it gets things right, it is also a place to encourage debate and even instigate change.”