FERT FEST 2019 SHOWCASE EPISODE
This was one of my favourite moments of the festival, when Jessica interviewed one of her hero’s Benjamin Zephaniah, Jessica was giddy speaking to him and during the interview Benjamin spoke candidly about his experience of infertility and what life was like as a black childless man.
Fertility Fest shared with us an amazing programme which I’ve tried to capture it’s essence within this episode to give you a taster of a number of the sessions. We recorded a fair few and I will be writing a post about my highlights aside from this showcase episode. I hope you get a sense of what you can expect from the Fest programme. In this episode, you heard snippets from:
That was Cabaret-artist Jamie Anderson, who was performing songs from his new show about becoming a father for the first time as a gay man and you’ll be hearing more from him, so don’t you worry. The Queer family event and panel was made up of a range of conversations, including theatre-maker Stella Duffy and Playwright Shelley Silas have been together for 28 years and been married four times – that’s how long it took the law to catch up! They have eighteen nieces and nephews, twenty nine great nieces and nephews and many godkids and guard kids. They’ve lost three parents, two sisters, one nephew and six embryos. They didn’t have the family they dreamed of and yet…they are family nonetheless. Here they share an improvised reading that the pair of them haven’t read to each other before.. then you will hear a reading from Dimple Devadas who will be telling the remarkable story of her rainbow family made through the gift of sperm donation from her best-selling ‘Human Book’
There were of course a great deal of questions from the audience and you’ll hear one on the dreaded diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’ which the panel chaired by Anya Sizer attempt to answer.Alongside Professor Geeta Nargund is leading women’s health expert Emma Cannon, Tamsin Jeffs from MyLotus fertility monitor and fertility expert from ITV’s This Morning Dr Larisa Corda. Emma talked about the conversations she has from patients asking why they were offered add ons and how she talks people through it and all the panel give their advice on what one thing they would say to anyong trying to conceive. We also spoke about Gareth Down’s Men only facebook group which you can link to here.
As part of the Invisible Man session Elis Matthews performed who you will hear from along with Foz Foster who was part of the Miscarriage evening, talking about his feelings of how he was treated whilst dealing with the miscarriages of his children along a wonderful reading from Julia Bueno who has a new book out called The Brink of Being, which has just been published.You also heard from Dr David Ogutu explaining how watching the work has helped him see more of the patient point of view and also from the Big Fertility Questions event where Hannah Vaghan Jones spoke with the issue of support for patients Professor Geeta Nargund, along with Ricky Martin, Joyce Harper and Geoffrey Trew and Lewis Vaghnan Jones and the availability of counselling and the cost of treatment and it’s impact.
The Young Gifted and Infertile night was one of Jessica’s highlights she said near the end of the festival. The evening started with a performance of Flushed, written and directed by Catherine Cranfield then Natasha Bishop, student and Founder of The Pants Project spoke about how underwear became her tool for empowerment when she was diagnosed, age 16, with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome and Andreia Trigo, Founder of Infertile Life, and Marie Gerval, Co-Chair of the Daisy Network were all interviewed by Jessica. I’m jumping in as Jessica and the panel talk to Catherine about her play.
We also featured the brilliant Claire Taylor with a snippet of her brilliant piece on going into Solo Motherhood followed by Paula Varjack, Catriona sharing a piece from The Baby Question, a new play in development that fuses personal stories and pop culture to amplify the narratives of the childless/childfree/child-full woman which was such a spectacle. There was also a UK premier from Russian-born and American-based film director Irina Vodarof her film Anything You Lose,an extraordinary story spanning seven years, it focusing on the director’s personal journey through assisted reproduction resulting in a eye-opening study of the psychological effects of prolonged exposure to treatment and the innate human need to connect through time and generations followed by an in-depth discussion with chair of the HFEA Sally Cheshire , Irina and Debbie Evans from Herts and Essex clnic, Chaired by Dr Zeynep Gurtin, Lecturer in Women’s Health at UCL which you’ll hear a bit of here.
We’re going to go back to being left to process trauma – and during the Modern Families panel which I was charing, with Lisa Faulkner and Izzy Judd giving readings of their books and an expert panel of James Nicapulus from Lister and Dr. David Ogutu – Lisa starts the conversation talking about her experience of an ectopic pregnancy
next you’ll hear Louise Mcgloughlin explaining how she feels being a child of donor conception ( there is a baby in the audience which you may hear from time to time, so I apologise if that could be a trigger for you) and Louise is introducing the panel discussion after the audience have seen an few scenes from Writer Lisa Parry and Director Zoe Waterman play ‘2023’ which looks at what might happen when the first batch of donor conceived children turn 18 and can legally have access to their donor records following the introduction of the UK’s non-anonymity laws introduced in 2005
Right, we need to talk about Egg freezing so I’m going to let you hear from Ellamae Cieslik and a clip from her theatre company The Brew Makers show ‘The Egg Rumour’, a musical comedy with an important question at its heart – what is the truth about this new work perk that many young women are being offered to freeze their eggs and put baby-making on hold whilst they pursue their careers?
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