Sailing close to the wind, with the Lincoln WI

IMG_1448.JPGThe public engagement element of my job is one of my favourite bits of being an academic. So whenever I’m invited to talk I’ll always try and make it, work and life permitting. As a result last night I was very pleased to be guest speaker at the Lincoln WI.

I’ve visited and spoken to a number of Women’s Institute branches in the last few years and I’ve never had a bad experience, but Lincoln WI are certainly one of my favourites. I’d previously spoken at one of their meetings about two years ago, along with my friend and performer Storme Chaser. Our talk had been about the British burlesque community and its feminist roots. They were a really receptive, fun audience with lots of interesting questions and many of them wanted to have a go with the set of oversize, ostrich feather fans I’d taken with me. I’d even got some them to have a go at doing a glove removal routine to the David Rose Orchestra’s ‘The Stripper,’ much to the amusement of the other members.

I was therefore very pleased to be invited back, this time to talk to the ladies about my work around the Windmill theatre. I’ve done this talk a couple of times now, a very brief overview of the theatre’s history with fun newsreel clips, as part of my #DMUEngage funded #TheyNeverClothed public engagement project, so I was familiar with what I was doing and very much enjoyed myself. The talk concluded, as all good talks should, with a bit of audience participation.

I talked with the ladies about the tableau vivant, stage censorship law and the notion that ‘If it moves, its rude,’ and members were given the opportunity to have a go at a clothed tableau vivant. However, rather than the considerable lengths of time the Windmill Girls had to hold their poses, these game WI members held their pose perfectly still for one single minute. They all agreed after, that the Windmill Girls had considerable stamina!



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