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Aca-Ting Out (The Oxford Belles) - Edfringe 2023

If the seminal contemporary 2012 classic Pitch Perfect taught us anything, it’s that Acapella has the capacity to change lives and change the world. Well...maybe not quite, but much like the Barden Bellas, The Oxford Belles are going to use the power of voice, good tunes and perky choreo to get your attention and show you a good time. You can’t go wrong with choosing a show like this to round out your Edfringe schedule, especially at the weekend. The feel good feminist power of a well performed playlist of all your favourite divas is serious business. Dixie Chicks serious! We interviewed The Oxford Belles about their acapella feminist pop show, Aca-ting Out, and what we learned is that these Aca-beauties are ready to take on the Fringe and pitch slap the patriarchy so hard it gets nodes!

Can you give us a sneak peek into your show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? What can audiences expect when they come to see your performance?

They can expect to hear some RIOTOUS feminist anthems – we’re talking Britney, Beyonce, Miley, and Rihanna to name just a few! Effectively Pitch Perfect in real life, these iconic tunes are paired with killer choreo and an abundance of attitude.

The Edinburgh Fringe is known for its vibrant and diverse atmosphere. How do you plan to engage with the festival audience and create a memorable experience for them?

We love the opportunity Fringe provides to really connect with audiences - most of whom you will have personally recruited through flyering! We have been developing our one-liners for the mile, as none of us have quite mastered the attention-grabbing backflip yet… A personal favourite is, ‘Are you a feminist?’ – a pretty hard one to say no to! We also plan to use our social media platform to help us reach as wide a range of people as possible and are so grateful that the Fringe gives us a stage to show our work to such a diverse range of people. Once we (fingers-crossed) get that audience into Niddry St to see ‘Aca-ting Out’, hopefully the show itself will provide a memorable experience, and they leave the show ready to strut the streets of Edinburgh! We also love to talk to our audiences afterwards to hear how the show impacted them.

As a performer at the Edinburgh Fringe, what are you most excited about? Are there any specific aspects of the festival that you are looking forward to exploring?

We’re really excited to see the brilliant new work that is part of the FemiFringe. We’ve been looking through Charlotte Anne-Tilley’s FemiFringe map and it all looks incredible. We’re also keen to be able to listen to other a cappella groups. We don’t compete at the ICCAs so it’s rare that we get to hear non-Oxford groups performing. It’s always inspiring to see what other groups are up to and experience their unique sound and vibes – we can’t wait!

Your show incorporates elements of feminism and women's experiences. Could you share how these themes are woven into the narrative or performance? What inspired you to explore these particular topics?

We only sing songs written and performed by women or non-binary people and for ‘Aca-ting Out’ have specifically chosen tunes which make us feel empowered and fearless. The show is all about using our voices to ‘Act Out’ and push back against societal expectations of how we should ‘behave’. Our hope is that, after we’ve belted out the songs which make us feel powerful, accompanied by some hella punchy choreo, they’ll want to get up and sing too!

Have you encountered any unique challenges or obstacles in the industry? How do you navigate these challenges, and what advice would you give to other women pursuing careers in the arts?

In order to mobilize women and therefore initiate social transformation there is one thing people often forget is paramount: money. We work tirelessly throughout the year, performing and running workshops all around Oxford and further afield to be able to afford Fringe; it is super important to us that Belles be entirely free for its members, so that we have the best accessibility possible. Of course, this is not a unique challenge within the performance industry, but we navigate it best by taking up gig opportunities that may not seem large scale, as they often lead on to further amazing opportunities as well as aiding your practice and perfecting your craft. You never know who is going to be sitting in that audience…

What do you hope audiences will take away from your show, especially in terms of the feminist and women-centric themes? Is there a specific message or emotion you aim to leave them with?

Music has an incredible ability to lift us up when we’re down, and to give us strength when we feel like we don’t have the energy to face the day. We want to harness this to make sure our audience walks out of the theatre feeling powerful and prepared to take down the patriarchy.

Introduction and edit by Louise Oliver (Editor, Persistent and Nasty Blog)

Show Details

Date(s): 14th – 19th August

Time: 16.50-17.40

Venue: TheSpace @NiddrySt

Twitter: @OxfordBelles

Instagram: @OxfordBelles

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