Social Media

Amy Conway - Shrill Interview

Outrageous and political as it is hilarious and empowering, the dynamic female-led theatre company Scissor Kick brings Shrill, a collaborative clown cabaret performance to Glasgow this August. An immersive and emotional experience in a Glasgow nightclub, Revolution Glasgow, Shrill is an urgent theatrical response to the silencing and belittling of female and femme voices across time and place.

Three sirens find each other on the very edge of the world – they don’t know it yet, but this is the beginning of the end. Shrill is a show, a bouffon cabaret, and most of all, it is a call to the embodiment of the female voice. Welcome to Cabaret de Shrill, an evening serving rebellion and subversion with a heavy dose of escapism.

Photo by Brian Hartley

Drawing from multiple theatrical forms such as clown, bouffon and cabaret, Shrill seeks to use the tradition of these forms to expose societal injustice and satirise the rich and powerful. Reinterpreting myths and fairytales such as Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid and the Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey, Shrill places the historic voices of women in a contemporary setting, striving to be inter-sectionally feminist in their retelling.

Ahead of the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe I speak with writer Amy Conway to discuss the piece.

What inspired the piece?
I was inspired to make a piece about the female voice after hearing on This American Life that the female podcast presenters got a LOT of complaints about their voices. I’d also been noticing other criticism of vocal trends such as “vocal fry” and “upspeak” which at the time seemed to be prevalent in young women. And speaking to other women in my life I realised most had developed vocal hang ups and in some extreme cases an intense dislike of their own voice. I originally thought that it should go without saying that the content and message of the voice is generally received as being more important than the quality of the sound it makes but the issue is of course far more complex. The dismissal of female and femme voices as annoying and shrill is indicative of a more widespread socially acceptable misogyny that is symptomatic of a society that is patriarchal at its core.

Did you have to do any research whilst you were writing the production?
The research for any creative project happens anywhere and everywhere for me. When I latch onto an idea I try to look as widely as possible for sources of information and inspiration. Books, theatre, film, tv, podcasts, chats with pals, the back of the bus. If the subject matter is interesting enough and you feel passionately enough about investigating it, the research shouldn’t feel like work. On a collaborative project like this,the research has to happen in the room with other artists too, discovering things through play, creative exercises, people sharing different aspects of their practice, and, for a show about the voice, literally making lots of noises together!  
Shrill gives a stage to voices that are often discriminated against, how important to you has that been both creatively and personally?
Very. I have been on my own personal journey with my voice over the years, both with the sound of it and what it has to say,and I feel immensely fortunate to have the platform to express that creatively. But even in the last few years I’ve seen how voices much more marginalised than my own are being threatened. This is a feminist piece, and that feminism is intended to be both intersectional and inclusive. I want to recognise that discrimination can happen in a plethora of ways and to different degrees and that voices of colour, along with queer, trans, and non-binary voices are particularly threatened right now, and being allies to each other is the only way forward.    

How do you approach combining multiple theatrical forms including clown, bouffon and cabaret?
Nearly all of the collaborators working on Shrill from the performers to the designers work in multiple theatrical forms,so we have all this expertise to draw from and I think we’d be fool not to use it. Sometimes I do think we’re setting ourselves up for a major headache when it comes to the point in the process where it needs to come together and form a coherent whole, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. One of the main aspects of the rehearsal I’m looking forward to is combining text with the traditionally less text-based performance styles like clown and bouffon. The bouffon clown is a bit of a troublemaker in the theatre world so when the performers come to improvise in that style they might just shit all over the text I’ve written, but that could lead to some exciting discoveries so I’ll try not to be too precious about it.   
What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing the show?
Ideally the feeling that they haven’t seen anything quite like it! That the human voice is an incredible gymnastic, kaleidoscopic instrument that can move, persuade, provoke, pacify and galvanise. I want them to revel in having seen and heard a wonderfully varied, vocal and very theatrical display and had a great night out too. And perhaps even that their own voice has the power to change the world.   

Photo by Brian Hartley

What performances/shows have inspired you?
I loved RashDash’s Two Man Show from a few years ago. It was a sweaty (but very well constructed) mess of female voices and bodies with music and dancing and anger and joy. I want that for Shrill – I wonder if they can bottle it. But I love so much performance, from the very serious performance art kind to the pure unadulterated pleasure of musical theatre. As long as I feel something or think something new, I’m there for it.
Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Female voices unleashed!

Shrill plays at Revolution in Glasgow on 8th, 9th, 10th and 13th August. Tickets are available from

Post a Comment


Theme by STS