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Performance artist Laura Murphy fuses aerial rope, stand up, theatre and live art in this groundbreaking, feminist solo-work.

Written and performed by Laura Murphy | Directed by Ursula Martinez

Drawing from circus, stand-up and live art, Contra is a solo-cabaret of contradictions. Fierce, witty and uncompromising, this highly physical show interrogates personal, social and historical occupations of the female body and explores, literally, where such bodies are positioned and how we are meant to look at them. Expect scenes of nudity, aerial acrobatics, and explicit references to mythical reptiles and female sexuality.

Created in part as a contribution to the #metoo movement, Contra is an intervention into perceptions of gender, femininity, queerness & consent: 

“In Contra I use my body as a relatable starting point for discussing wider social issues, and use layers of humour, text and physicality to make the critical perspective more accessible. Bringing my naked body into the room puts social and political occupations of that body visually on the table for discussion: I embody Eve tempted and then let loose, billboard advertisements, pleasant faces, bodies packaged and consumed...you see vulnerability, a victim, a retaliator, a strong-woman acrobat and a feminist. In confronting my own experiences of these embodyments and particularly of gendered violence, I hope to inspire feelings of solidarity & encourage audiences to do the same” - Laura Murphy

Fresh to the Uk from a European tour, Contra is a highly physical, funny and thought provoking work of contemporary performance. Laura's methodology involves asking her circus technique to serve the work rather than lead it, helping her to push the boundaries of what is expected from aerial work and what aerial disciplines are able to communicate within a theatrical context. Through lip sync, spoken text, dance and aerial rope choreography, Laura juxtaposes her autobiographical accounts with the voices of comedians, preachers, pop vocalists and strangers on public transport. Delivered with humour, honesty and poignancy, Laura shares stories of bodily functions, heartbreak and family discussions of lesbian sex. Beautifully surreal and comically astute, Contra unpicks the absurdity and contradictions of female identity in the present day.

Audience comments: "...thought provoking, entertaining and progressive...unapologetic" | " Contra provides the pleasures of spectacle and deconstructs itself neatly in the process " | "... a radical overturning of conventional expectations of aerial performance and performers. "

Laura Murphy is a genre-defying queer performance maker from Bristol who makes text-driven and dynamic physical work about things that she thinks need to be talked about. Her work is cross-disciplinary fusion of theatre, live art, aerial choreography, dance and verbal explosions, which integrates intimacy and spectacle. Laura is a CircusNext Laureate 2018-19 (European programme coordinated by Jeunes Talents Cirque Europe and supported by the European Union) and PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield, researching aerial work as critical performance.

Ursula Martinez is a theatre maker (writer, performer and director). She co-directed the award-winning Office Party, and directed Victoria Melody’s Northern Soul, Leah Shelton’s Bitch on Heat and Lucy McCormick’s Triple Threat. She is an original cast member of the Olivier Award winning contemporary circus/variety phenomena La Clique and La Soiree, and is an associate artist with performance provocateurs ‘Duckie’. Martinez’s solo shows include A Family Outing, My Stories, Your Emails, and Free Admission, in addition to Wild Bore an  international collaboration with Adrienne Truscott (US) and Zoe Coombs Marr (Australia). For all her theatrical accolades, Martinez is probably most well known for pulling red hankies out of her vagina!

Producer - Nicole A’Court Stuart
Lighting design - Katie Davies
Early Stage mentoring - Terry O’Connor
Choreographic support - Madeleine McGowan
Supported by Arts Council England, CircusNext (Jeunes Talents Cirque Europe), Jacksons Lane and Carré Magique

Ages: 18+

  • CONT1021QUA
  • The Lowry Theatre, Salford
  • Personal Basket