Binge Fringe Magazine

INTERVIEW: A Digital Pint with… Thistle & Rose Theatre, cooking up a ‘Post-Sex Spagbol’ at VAULT Festival

Today we’re joined by the team at Thistle & Rose Theatre, who have put together a New Writing comedic piece exploring internalised misogyny, while still very much having a laugh at the same time. Post Sex Spagbol lands at VAULT Festival at the end of this month, promising “vibrators, funerals, the twelve disciples, piss play and THAT mint shower gel” all as part of the package. We sat down for a pixelated pint with the show’s Director Caitlin Lee Smith and Writer/Performer Katie Bignell to get the lowdown.

Catch Post Sex Spagbol between January 31st and February 3rd at 18:25. Tickets are available through the VAULT Festival Box Office.

Jake: “Hey guys! We hear you’re putting on a show that explores internalised misogyny while laughing through “relatable shags, gags and female taboos” – how was the experience of putting that together for you all and what did you get from it?

Katie: “I’ve always believed people listen most when they were laughing a few moments before. Art that merges comedy and relevant issues. I knew I wanted to write something like this. Post Sex Spagbol started as a one-woman show, but something wasn’t quite right, Caitlin suggested performing as a three-woman-ensemble, bouncing between protagonist Krissy and all the minor characters on her journey. This was exactly what Post Sex Spagbol needed. We then follow Krissy purposely feed a classroom full of teenage girls bad advice, I think Theatre Things puts it perfectly when they said “Expect to laugh, cringe, nod, gasp – and maybe even shed a tear or two as this journey of self-discovery unfolds”, some of those classroom scenes can really make your bits tingle (and not in a fun way, but we absolutely explore that too!).”

“Caitlin’s artistic vision on the show created something I’d never think of. We use three-white blocks to shift from location to location, the movements of which we found as a team. Some of themes were tough, meaning our rehearsal room could have us in laughter to tears within a few pages, but I’m very grateful for the wonderful women on the project and what we found together.”

Caitlin: “I always hoped to keep an eye out for attention to detail, and pull these topics out subtilty through the comedy within the text – often you will be laughing but as you really digest the language the topics hit home – this wave of realisation was something I really wanted the actors and audience to feel together.”

Jake: “Post-Sex Spagbol explores everything from hormones, to religious boarding schools, femininity and something called the “swimming pool’s secret sex shack” – what are you hoping the audience takes away from the experience?

Katie: “For me, there’s 2 main things: a fire in your feminist soul and a belly full of laughter. After our performance of the show at The Bread & Roses Theatre, I bumped into these 2 lovely Geordie girls, they told me they’d stumbled across the ad for the show online and came to see it because it ‘looked like a bit of them’. We ended up getting wine drunk in the bar after together and shared stories on womanhood, growing up, sex, love, comedy and more.

“The themes and issues of the show had them in stiches while making them feel empowered. We’d never met but felt united over womanhood (and a good few glasses of pinot)! This moment made me remember who it was all for. It’s very easy, especially in the world of fringe, to get wrapped up in ticket sales, budgets, marketing etc but these girls reminded me why I wrote this show in the first place. How I’d love an audience to reflect those lovely Geordie girls!”

Caitlin: “I want this to be a show where the female-identifying audience leave laughing, united by the hidden secrets of womanhood exposed for all the beauty and grossness involved. I want it to be something they recall upon in a moment they would normally feel embarrassed and how they since feel empowered.”

Jake: “You’ve added that this is very much a story of self-love, womanhood and growing up. These are very intimate and personal experiences, no doubt! How have your experiences affected the piece, and looking back as you’re about to take it to VAULT, how has the piece affected you so far?

Katie: “Caitlin created a rehearsal space that always felt safe and open. There was always room to delve into the darker sides of Krissy but when it felt right to do so. There were days where Krissy was no more than a fictional character and we viewed her with an outside lens, and days where we found parts of ourselves in Krissy, and indulged in all her vulnerabilities and ugly-sides (these days were often followed up by a well-earned trip to Costa for iced oat caramel lattes and cake).”

“Myself, Georgia and Signe all bounce between playing Krissy, and Caitlin never forced us to play her the same, in fact, it was the total opposite! We’re very different women. From personality, to background, to nationality. Caitlin created a rehearsal process that allowed us to find our own piece of Krissy which I truly believe is one of the most interesting aspects of the show.”

Caitlin: “The show is very personal to all of us as women, the show is unique but the stories within it are universal. At times the rehearsal days could just be full of chatting about similar experiences and our feelings towards these challenges. I really believe these conversations were just as important, if not more, as anything else we did in the process.”

Jake: “Tell us a little more about Thistle & Rose Theatre, and what you’re hoping to achieve.”

Katie:: “It’s been almost a year since Thistle & Rose was born, the name of which comes from mine and Caitlin’s home-country flowers. She’s a Scottish Thistle, I’m an English rose. Two flowers that are bright, bold and sharp! This reflects our art well. We met during our training at East 15 on the Acting & Contemporary Theatre course and lived together for the full three years! There became little we didn’t know about each other and embraced how similar we are but also how different we are too.”

“Since we formed, our company has taken various shows to venues such as The Bread & Roses, The Space, The Seven Dials Playhouse, The Glitch and now VAULT Festival! We’ve also worked with women from America, Denmark, Mexico and various regions across the UK. Thistle & Rose wouldn’t be what it is without the wonderful women that put their heart into the art. We will never stop putting women’s voices centre stage, uncovering the dirty truths of womanhood with gasps and giggles. We cannot wait to see where we’re going next.”

Jake: “Now that we’re gearing up for VAULT 23, what are you most excited for?

Katie: “My work brain cannot wait to get into the rehearsal room and see what is next in store for Post Sex Spagbol, especially now we have the wonderful Elisabetha Gruener joining the team. What will change, adapt, and grow in this next performance? My social brain cannot wait to indulge myself in some theatre! RIP to my bank account Jan – March because it’s all going on VAULT tickets. “

Caitlin: “I am always excited to hear the text in the girl’s voices again, after all this time I still laugh! This is our biggest form of exposure yet and I think it is exactly what this show and the crew behind it need!”

Jake: “Fitting with the themes of our magazine, if your show was an alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverage (think cocktails, mocktails, shots, beers, be creative!) what would it be?

Katie: “Ooo! Krissy drinks a LOT of rosé, which I think wraps up the show nicely. Sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, guarantee a good time and PINK! (As long as the show doesn’t make you drunk text you ex).”

Caitlin: “I would give Krissy a straight white spirit chased by an overly sweetened/processed fruit juice for good measure.”

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together novel-length reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2023), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them