Interview: Caroline Buckley (Grab ’Em by the Pussy)

A certain president seems to be the hot topic on stage at the moment. And for once, I’m not talking about Thomas Jefferson, George Washington or anything Hamilton related.

The now infamous Julius Caesar by The Public Theater featured the assassination of Donald Trump, just a few blocks away from Trump Tower. In the UK, the Donmar Warehouse’s Arturo Ui reworked Brecht’s original parable for the rise of Hitler to feature the rise of the current president. And coming soon to the Off West End stage, Grab ‘Em by the Pussy (as the title suggests) explores the modern day woman living in the period of this self-proclaimed ‘modern president’, ‘a serio-comic response to the world’s reaction to Trump’s ‘grab ‘em by the pussy”.

Writer and Producer Caroline Buckley spoke to me about this new show, its influences and resonances, and the similarities between this pussy and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s one…that is Cats the Musical.



Can you tell us a bit about the show?

Grab ‘Em by the Pussy is a hilarious whirlwind. It is a fast-paced adventure following Maisy on her quest to be touched when she doesn’t want to be touched. An absurd comedy set in a world where women are objectified daily and if you are left untouched you are a loser!

There are songs too! Yes you heard me right, Grab ‘Em is a musical. It is basically Cats the musical, without the cats – and it wasn’t written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

GrabEm_Web 

And can you tell us a bit about your previous projects?

This is my first full-length play, which started off life as a short staged at The Old Red Lion as part of a Plays Rough London scratch night; a company I co-founded in February 2016. Einstein once said ‘play is the highest form of research’. We wanted to create a space where writers could test out their work in front of an audience. We stage short play evenings in theatres and alternative spaces across London. We are always looking for new people to be involved so get in touch: playsroughlondon@gmail.com

I also made lots of films. Don’t Google them…

 

How does it speak to a modern audience, both in the UK and beyond? 

Grab ‘Em is my response to normalisation of female sexualisation, which is a global issue and one that has been a constant throughout history. The play was written as a response to the question ‘Where are we now?’ in the wake of the year 2016. So it is very much confronting the issue now. 

Although it is impossible to explore every branch of the issue we hope comparatives can be found as we speak about a something so massive and ingrained in our society it seems impossible to confront. We should question why we expect to be catcalled on our way to the shops and why we accept billboards telling us to ‘slurp it, suck it, lick it.’ Why is this our social norm?

 

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How did you decide upon a musical format for telling this story? Does this allow you to do anything a spoken/play format wouldn’t?

The show grew from a song about a girl longing to be sexually assaulted. We composed a melody that contrasted the lyrics; this heightened the incongruity of the filth coming out of her mouth. It gave us a whole new element to play with and a tool to tell our story, which we have really gone to town with in Grab ‘Em. You’ll be laughing and groaning in disgust in one single breath.

Also, we humans respond to music; it has the power to evoke strong emotions. Try watching a film without music, you’ll feel nothing. As the show is so fast paced it is nice to have moments of song to take stock. Plus it was a brilliant excuse to write a song about grabbing pussy.

I would love to do a straight play with a musical score.

 

Finally, why should people come and see Grab ‘Em by the Pussy?

To get sucked down Donald Trump’s hoover and enter the world of his entitled brain! You’ll love it if you’re a cat person… or a dog person. If you have hands…also if you don’t have hands. If you have ever been touched inappropriately… if you ever touched anyone inappropriately and now feel bad about it. You should probably still come if you don’t feel bad about it, you might learn something – look life is about reading the situation; sometimes you can grab a butt, sometimes you can’t.

Also, if you think I am wittering on about sexual assault and should shut up about it already because you are fine with the world as it is, the play is also a great ‘how to’ on grabbing pussy, and also if you have a pussy on ‘how to’ get it grabbed against your will . Don’t say you didn’t ask for it.

Another reason to come is Grab ‘Em is part of a double bill. With your ticket you get to see a whole extra show by the hilarious Heretical Historians – The Trial of Le Singe – a dark comic farce about a shipwrecked monkey mistaken for a French spy.

Grab ‘Em by the Pussy plays at The Space from 11 July – 16 July2 2017. For more information and to book tickets, visit The Space website.

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