Box­ing pro­moter brought to life

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

IT be­gan with an 11-yearold boy watch­ing vi­o­lent pornog­ra­phy in or­der to fit in at a new school and ended with his mother ap­pear­ing on na­tional tele­vi­sion dis­cussing the is­sue.

Now Lizi Patch has turned the ex­pe­ri­ence into a stage show which hopes to help people dis­cuss the un­speak­able.

Punch­ing the Sky, which is be­ing de­vel­oped by West York­shire Play­house, the Lowry and Live Theatre in New­cas­tle, is the play Patch has writ­ten and she will share the work car­ried out on the project so far at Brad­ford’s Theatre in the Mill on Mon­day.

The shar­ing will be an op­por­tu­nity for au­di­ences to see the work in de­vel­op­ment be­fore it goes on to be pre­sented in a fin­ished form to theatre au­di­ences later in the year.

As well as ap­pear­ing on News­night to dis­cuss the is­sues she tack­les in the play with Jeremy Pax­man, Patch also trav­elled to Lon­don to dis­cuss what hap­pened with MPs.

She says: “In March last year my 11-year-old son told me he’d been pres­surised into watch­ing some bru­tal – and il­le­gal – porn on a smart­phone.

“I pub­lished a blog post as part of deal­ing with the is­sues raised, which was then picked up by the In­de­pen­dent news­pa­per and many oth­ers across the globe.

“I ap­peared on News­night and was in­vited to West­min­ster to talk to the Shadow Cab­i­net about the tidal wave of ques­tions, opin­ions and ac­cu­sa­tions that speak­ing out prompted.

“I’d touched a mas­sive open, hun­gry nerve.”

The nerve was that of par­ents who don’t know how to deal with such a dif­fi­cult is­sue. Patch’s son had be­come with­drawn and up­set for days be­fore he was fi­nally able to speak to his mother about what he had seen and the ef­fect it had on him.

When he did talk to her he ex­plained the hard­est part was that he couldn’t now ‘unsee’ the vi­o­lent pornog­ra­phy that boys at his school had co­erced him into watch­ing.

Patch turned to so­cial me­dia and a blog to share her ex­pe­ri­ence.

As a theatre-maker of 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, she is now turn­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence into a play that will tackle the is­sues and, she hopes, help oth­ers.

“The overwhelming re­ac­tion, the avalanche of emails I have re­ceived from par­ents around the globe shows that the theme of the show is in­cred­i­bly timely. Put sim­ply, ev­ery­one has an opin­ion on this and no-one re­ally knows what to do.

“It stirs strong pas­sions about is­sues of free­dom of speech, cen­sor­ship, tech­nol­ogy and the con­tra­dic­tory na­ture of our feel­ings about sex, power and par­ent­hood.”

Patch, who also ap­pears in Punch­ing the Sky, has been pleased with the re­ac­tion of the piece so far, be­ing de­vel­oped with the help of Arts Coun­cil fund­ing.

“The re­ac­tion has been great, one young woman who came to a work­shop we held said: ‘Per­son­ally I was shocked that an 11 year old felt he had to look at vi­o­lent porn sim­ply to ‘fit in’. I be­came slightly nos­tal­gic and thought about my strug­gle to fit into sec­ondary school that in­volved throw­ing paper planes, not watch­ing ex­treme porn on­line. This made me re­al­ized how much has changed in the past seven or eight years.’” BRAD­FORD-BORN ac­tress Denise Kennedy brings to life the amaz­ing story of the world’s first fe­male box­ing pro­moter in Bella: Queen of the Black­fri­ars Ring. Around a hun­dred years ago Bella toured UK the­atres as dresser to hugely pop­u­lar mu­sic hall star Marie Lloyd be­fore tak­ing over the run­ning of south Lon­don box­ing venue Black­fri­ars Ring from her hus­band ex-prize fighter Dick Burge. The play – a one-woman show that fea­tures live mu­sic, song, dance, box­ing and film – is at The Square Chapel in Halifax on March 1. Tick­ets on 01422 349422.


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