Originally published on Exeunt
How to create a satirical, multimedia performance, inspired by How To Come Out Black:
- Pick a popular topic that is relatable and highly commented on. Writer and performer Vanessa Macaulay looks at a combination of issues that influence black female stereotypes – derogatory rap videos; Kim Kardashian’s backside; make-up and the overly stylised body.
- Compare and contrast. Look at the issues and devise a satirical, mocking reproduction, everything that is absurdist and anti- to the popular nature of what you are looking to portray. Mimic the infamous Kardashian portrait, using low budget but ultimately more hilarious objects. Why not substitute champagne for Lambrini, a bootylicious behind for some stretchy pants stuffed with paper? Affordable, accessible and avant garde.
- Remove the glitz and glamour. Expensive makeup can make you look like a superstar, but household items are much easier to get hold of. Honey as a base coat; coffee as your foundation (make sure to match your natural skin tone – Macaulay finds medium roast the best blend); flour for accents and contours.
- Top Tip! Apply chilli seeds to your lips before the gloss. The eye-watering pain will swell your mouth and give you that luscious, lustful look you’ve been longing for. Temporarily resembling Noel Fielding’s moon in The Mighty Boosh is only a temporary side effect.
- Cover all your bases. Use music videos, song lyrics and beauty tips to create a more effective social commentary. When looking at a rap song, be sure to use those buzz words for maximum effect – dick; pussy; ass. To get you started, here are some examples to include in your personalised lyrical masterpiece:
“Take that dick girl, your friend will wait for you.”
“Skankin’ ho, she about to blow.”
If in doubt, a matter of fact delivery will contrast the fantasy in the words and create a better comic effect.
- Play on the different senses of the audience. Use different media outlets, be it song, video, live performance or the overwhelming acrid stench of Lambrini wafting through the theatre. All these combine to paint your picture. But don’t go overboard – perhaps the lack of sound is more impactful. If an audience sees a generic modern hiphop video, mute it and focus attention on the twerking bikinis. Why not showcase your own twerking skills too?
- Production value is key. Don’t worry about exotic locations with today’s technology – a green screen in your office works just as well. Thinking about that expensive Lamborghini to cruise for bitches? Zoom in on a remote control car and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. Hoping to be showered in dollar bills? Peppered with 2p coins is much more cheap and cheerful – no pain, no gain in this business.
- Don’t forget to ask for permission to reproduce such poignant observations of modern music culture. If you don’t get approval, superimpose your own face (coffee grounds and flour included) on the twerking dancers. Privacy protected, point proven.
- Above all else, if stuck for material, just keep twerking. It can easily double the length of your production, padding out a potentially punchy piece into a diluted doppelganger.
WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY Vanessa Macaulay
How To Come Out Black plays The Yard Theatre as part of NOW Festival the until 25 February. For more details, see the website.