Vault Festival preview: Beach Body Ready

Update 20.40 16 March – the Vault final week has been cancelled due to the COVID-9 pandemic. However please read on as this sounds a fab show which will return!

Welcome to a final preview from this year’s Vault Festival. Beach Body Ready by The Roaring Girls opens tomorrow in the Crescent, 17 March, and then continues on tour.

I asked the company’s Engagement and Communications representative, Sarah Penney, to tell me more about the new show.

Beach Body Ready
Beach Body Ready

Glad to see a group of Northern women taking the capital by storm – how does it feel to be at the Vault Festival?

SP: It feels brilliant to be at Vault Festival! We’re based in Hull and make work predominantly in the North, so to be bringing our work to London as part of our first national tour feels pretty special.

There’s been some brilliant Northern artists presenting work at the festival, so we’re proud to be representing! 

It seems that body image is becoming much more unrealistic with Insta influencers and fashion spreads promoting the unattainable. Do you think this will change for the better any time soon?

SP: I think that with the prevalence of social media, especially Instagram, and the nature of the Internet to allow us all to connect and communicate our own experiences, we have the ability to see more body types and to challenge beauty ideals – more than ever before we can represent ourselves and see ourselves in others.

But at the same time, influencers are staging photos hoots that look unedited, marketing unrealistic solutions to our “problems” and we can scroll through images of the “ideal” for hours. I think there is great potential for change, but we all have to look at our media diets, and what we are viewing and actively chose to avoid the unrealistic and unattainable.

I think there is hope in the way you see companies using increasingly diverse bodies to advertise to us. I don’t believe this diversity (for some companies this is just the presence of a small plus size model… How brave) reflects these companies changes in intention or values, rather I think that they are attempting to signal to the consumers who feel unrepresented or that our current ideals are too narrow.

This is not to praise these companies – they are still selling us something. Rather I think it demonstrates that women are increasingly fed up with the way things are now, and becoming more vocal. Body acceptance is becoming more mainstream so companies are trying to capitalise on it. So I am hopeful that these attitudes are in fact spreading. 

The Roaring Girls in Beach Body Ready
The Roaring Girls in Beach Body Ready

Your shows aim to leave audiences laughing, crying, and talking. What would you like audiences for Beach Body Ready to take away and talk about?

SP: Our work is the first part of a conversation. Our audiences don’t sit passively in the dark – we talk to them, and sometimes they talk to us too.

We hope that for audiences seeing the show, that Beach Body Ready is a catalyst. We’re hoping that it will allow mothers and daughters, grandparents and grandchildren, and friends to open up to one another and have a conversation that they’ve never had before.

As part of the show, all audience members take away a free gift of a zine, one that has been compiled of poems, stories, blogs and illustrations from other women across the North of England about their own journey with their bodies.

We would like this to be a reminder to continue the conversation, and there’s a list of social media activists, other shows and charities that we can signpost people to, to take it further.

The Roaring Girls has grown from a core of two to a group of five. Has this presented any challenges to creating or performing shows, and how does the collaboration work?

SP: The great thing about the growth of the company is that we were working with friends who we know are passionate and share our ideals. This makes collaboration a joy and the hard work more pleasurable.

Of course there are hurdles – working with friends means disagreements sometimes feel personal and time to socialise sometimes transitions into a work meeting. We want to work in a collaborative and democratic way, so expanding our team means welcoming different perspectives and ideas, and learning how to balance these strong voices.

But this has enabled us to grow, to do more, to do bigger and better things. And ultimately our team is dedicated, passionate, caring, and filled with talented people. And it’s exciting to challenge ourselves, and to grow.

What’s next for the company?

SP: All of our work is autobiographical, so in the autumn, we’re going to begin research and development on our next show 2 Girls, 1 Mooncup, (pending title) about menstruation and all the things we were never told.

It’s all a bubble of ideas and exciting conversations at the moment, but think sexy cabaret with tampon chandeliers, and songs about vaginas and you might catch our drift. Keep up to date with what we’re up to next on our social media channels @theroaringgirls, or on our website