★★★★ The Stage ★★★★ Hiive ★★★★ Miro Magazine
★★★★ Reviews Hub ★★★★ London Theatre 1 ★★★★⭑ Breaking the Fourth Wall
Foreign Body premiered at Southbank Centre’s WOW Festival in 2017 had a sell-out runs at Soho Theatre and Rich Mix and toured to Oxford, Coventry, Bristol, Northampton and to festivals such as Brainchild, Clear Lines, VAULT Festival and WOW Exeter. The play had its international premiere in Dhaka, Bangladesh and toured India (Mumbai, Guwahati, Bangalore, Pondicherry, Ahmedabad) in 2018.
Foreign Body is a solo play about hope, healing and forgiveness after sexual assault. The play uses testimonial recordings to tell Imogen’s own story, that of the perpetrator of one of her own assaults and stories of eight other survivors of sexual assault.
After every performance of the play Imogen chaired panel discussions with other survivors, sector experts and campaigners covering related topics such as creativity for wellbeing, gender, race and reporting, child sexual abuse, activism and healing. Panellists included Laura Haynes, Chair of UN Women; Sirin Kale, of Guardian, VICE and Vogue; activist Nimco Ali OBE; Marina Cantacuzino, founder of The Forgiveness Project and Dr Nina Burrowes, co-founder of Consent Collective. These panels served to transform communities within which we spoke, enabling conversations that are rarely engaged with. The play served as a creative springboard into a conversation that was repeatedly reported as being healing, transformational and deeply nourishing to survivors and those around them.
“A taut production… some of the best Vault Festival has on offer… impressive. … simple and holistic. … always engrossing… a sensitively-judged and effective piece... political theatre at its finest… formidable. … we all deserve to see more work like Foreign Body.” A Younger Theatre
“What’s so beautiful about this show is that the woman’s body... is so present, magnetic, its curves, its sinuous grace, responding with subtle inflection to the voices that surround it. Look, admire, don’t touch.” Medium (Maddy Costa)
“a beautifully crafted performance piece… an open and honest account… effortlessly interwoven [with] an accompaniment of carefully placed harmonics … self-assured... Foreign Body cuts to the core with grace and reminds us to heal.” Miro Magazine
“A truthful tender story of reclaiming the body after abuse. A beautiful and brave piece.... strikingly simple…. one of the most truthful explorations of the subject…. restrained direction... a stunning soundtrack… this show will only continue to grow and charge people with the courage to speak out.” Hiive
Credits, trailer and full website: www.foreignbodyplay.com
Shashito Shorir (The Disciplined Body) is a cavernous, brutal verbatim play about healing after sexual assault. Created using the same methods as Foreign Body, the play comprises choreography soundtracked by recorded interviews with survivors and a live cello accompaniment.
The play was commissioned to be created by Imogen Butler-Cole as part of the Indo-European Residency Project Kolkata for the British Council, December 2019.
Performed in English and Bengali at Padatik Theatre, Kolkata, December 2019.
Developed in collaboration with DIKSHA, SWAYAM and Kolkata Sanved, each leading theatre and dance practitioners within the sexual violence sector. In collaborating with these NGOs I was able to develop my own practice in choreography and healing through movement. Representatives from each organisation spoke in post-show panels, disseminating our collaborative practices further.
Performed by Papia Chakrabarty, Suktara Khatun and Tilottama Chowdhury
Written and directed by Imogen Butler-Cole
From interviews with Tumpa Adhikary, Saptami Paul, Vidhi, Paramita Bannerjee, Saliya and Anjali
Choreography by Vanessa Maria Mirza
Music by Debjit Mahalanobis
Lighting by Sumit Roy
Designed by Imogen Butler-Cole and Vanessa Maria Mirza
Sound edited by Rayan
Photography by Grace Gelder
"Shashito Shorir is not just about abuse but also the scars that it leaves behind — failed relationships, lack of faith in the judicial system and harassment by police. The play ended with hope. The survivors urged others to talk about their trauma and seek help. As the stage lights dimmed and the dancers took a bow, the audience gave them a standing ovation.
“We often use theatre and other forms of art to make people aware. I wanted to tell women that their experiences are not exclusive. They need to build a support group and help others,” said Anuradha Kapoor, the founder of NGO Swayam. Healing through art gives women confidence, she said. “Theatre makes survivors feel positive. They slowly realise they are not victims and gather the courage to be agents of change instead. Many have healed through art and have managed to turn around their lives. They help others move on too.”" - Review from Telegraph India
Artwork created in response to the play by Vidhi T.