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Performance trio explores the true beauty of the feminine form with a collection of poems by female writers at this year's University of Leicester free literary festival

Posted by ap507 at Nov 05, 2015 01:06 PM |
Edgy and raucous renditions of poems on 11 November by celebrated female authors, including the British Poet Laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 5 November 2015 

  • A celebration of real women's bodies “leaving Barbie’s grotesque silent pliability in her box for good”
  • Performance takes place 8pm on Wednesday 11 November at the Attenborough Arts Centre

An empowering performance of poetry about women and the real-life relationship they have with their bodies will re-examine the way the female form is characterised in today's society.

Raving Beauties, a veteran theatre company trio, will appear at the University of Leicester's free Literary Leicester festival on 11 November, to deliver a passionate – and at times rude, raucous and sensational – rendition of works by well-known female poets.

Hallelujah for 50ft Women is a collection of works by leading female writers, including Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy – author of Richard III's poetic eulogy read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch at the king's reinterment earlier this year.

Performers Fan Viner, Dee Orr and Sue Jones-Davies have described their show as 'a passionate desire to celebrate our bodies in a fully realised way leaving Barbie’s grotesque silent pliability in her box for good'.

Other established authors in the collection include the award-winning Selima Hill – author of People Who Like Meatball – and Pulitzer Prize winner Sharon Olds.

However, the anthology also includes lesser-established talent, which the group is keen to broadcast to the masses.

Raving Beauty Dee said: “I hope to bring to life the words of these talented women, many of whom may otherwise go unheard.

“Whilst it is hugely important to share the work of well-known poets, for me, it's so good to give a voice to the unknown poets - many of whom are published here for the first time.”

The long-running theatre company has a history spanning more than 30-years, when it first appeared on the launch night of Channel 4, with its first poetic collection, In The Pink.

The book went onto be a best seller and warranted six reprints.

Now, the group hopes to emulate that success with Hallelujah for 50ft Women.

Fan said: “Raving Beauties was born out of a deep sense of frustration with domesticity, naiveté and a burning need for a creative outlet.

“Fifty footers was birthed out of the burden of 'looks' that women still carry, and our fury at how it cripples us. What a terrible nonsense it all is; commercial, prejudicial, violent nonsense.

"We're doing our small bit to support women in saying it's not where it's at.

“Soulful is where it's at. Authenticity. Being true to a deeper self which is going to make you shine anyway.

“It may not be easy but living one's own life on one's own terms is the journey of a lifetime.”

Festival director, Dr Harry Whitehead, said: “Raving Beauties are a unique phenomenon, hugely entertaining, and just a brilliant way for the festival to get its main events series up and running. We’ve actually sold out our pre-bookable tickets for the event already, but do just turn up on the night as there are always spaces left.”

Literary Leicester is now in its eighth year and is organised by the University of Leicester.

It runs from Wednesday 11 November, until Saturday 14 November.

For more information, visit:

Festival running order:

Wednesday 11 November 2015

  • Jamie Mollart: A Reading and Conversation with Henderson Mullin: Attenborough Arts, 12pm.
  • David Almond (Schools-only Event): English Martyrs' School, 12.50pm
  • James Joyce: Apocalypse and Exile: Quaker Meeting House, 2.30pm
  • Writing Women in the Midlands: Workshop: Leicestershire Records Office, 3.30pm
  • Raving Beauties - 'Hallelujah for 50 Foot Women': Attenborough Arts, 8pm

Thursday 12 November 2015

  • First Story: Young Writers' Showcase: Attenborough Arts, 1.30pm
  • Remembering G.S. Fraser: David Wilson Library, 3.30pm
  • Literary Salon: "Unlearning Childhoods" with novelists Caryl Phillips and Elleke Boehmer: Attenborough Arts, 4pm
  • Linton Kwesi Johnson and Caryl Phillips in Conversation: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 6.30pm
  • Louis de Bernières: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 8pm

Friday 13 November 2015

  • 'Does it Make a Difference if a Writer is Male or Female?' A panel discussion with authors, publishers and local students: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 1.15pm
  • Why did Samuel Pepys Keep his Diary? Attenborough Arts, 2pm
  • 'Who Loves Jack the Ripper?' with Bruce Robinson: Phoenix, 6.30pm
  • Withnail and I: screening with an introduction by its director, Bruce Robinson: Phoenix, 8pm

Saturday 14 November 2015 - 'Fantasy Fiction Saturday'

  • Emily Gravett: Letterbox Club Event (children aged 6 and up): Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 11am
  • Rigby Graham: Artist and Writer: David Wilson Library Seminar Room, 1pm
  • Stuart Hill: “BLOOD, BLAST AND FIRE!" The Icemark Chronicles (for 10-15 year olds and readers of all ages): Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 3pm
  • The Kingdom of Dreams: The Uncanny Worlds of Graham Joyce: Ogden Lewis Suite, 4.30pm
  • The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, with Robert Douglas-Fairhurst: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 6.30pm
  • 60 Years of The Lord of the Rings, followed by panel discussion: 'What's the Point of Fantasy Fiction?' with leading authors Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Stuart Lee Juliet E. McKenna & Farah Mendlesohn: Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, 8pm

All events are free, but some are ticketed, so please check the University of Leicester website, or venue, for more information.

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