‘A Bloody Shambles’ by Ella Dorman-Gajic at Living Record Festival
A Bloody Shambles is a visceral, intimate audio drama set on a disastrous day-in-the-life of Jess, who has woken up with a familiar feeling between her thighs, in a bed she barely recognises. Her journey brings sharply to light issues of period poverty and taboos about menstruation. 40% of all ticket sales will go to Bloody Good Period, a charity combating period poverty.
This piece started life as a short stage monologue, part of a longer theatre project exploring period poverty, which I created with incredible singer-songwriter and theatre-maker Katy Maloney. The show explored experiences of girls and women facing period poverty, along with satirical musical segments on the utter ridiculousness of tampon tax. Thank GOD that is now history (…we like to think our singing might have had something to do with it…).
Researching women facing period poverty was sobering. Their experiences brought into focus something I often took for granted, not to mention an experience many know little about, due to a lack of education on menstruation. This continues to feed an environment where periods are cultural taboos, which can further impact people’s ability to reach out for help. A significant amount of women in this country – the 5th richest in the world – have to resort to using socks, plastic bags or scraps of paper once a month. As someone who has experienced heavy, painful periods, I can only imagine how much more distressing they must be when you cannot afford these vital, basic products. Products that should be a human right.
Jess is someone living independently for the first time, due to a tumultuous relationship with her Mum. She isn’t able to afford sanitary products, thus forcing her to resort to extreme measures. Her story was inspired by women I had researched, and the lengths they’ve gone to without sanitation. I had started expanding Jess’ monologue for the stage, as I felt it needed to be longer to fully explore her journey and to do justice to an underrepresented experience. Then – plague. So, I adapted it into an audio play, which has been an amazing experience. I’ve enjoyed how this medium has heightened certain aspects of the drama, because it allows audiences to create their own personal visuals from the words, thus immersing them in Jess’ headspace and the obstacles she battles against. So Living Recorded liked the idea, and here we are!
After writing, performing and sound designing the audio drama (…plus a lot of shouting at my computer, man, sound is hard) I got in contact with Bloody Good Period. They are an incredible charity helping those dealing with period poverty. It was started by Gabby Edlin, who “decided something needed to be done to create a sustainable flow (pun intended) of menstrual products for those who can’t afford to buy them”. You can find out more about the charity and make an additional donation if you choose here: https://www.bloodygoodperiod.com/
At last, tampon tax has been abolished in the UK, after decades of sanitary products being classed as “luxury” items. But this has only happened after years of campaigning and inspiring work done by charities and activists. There is a continued lack of education on menstruation in schools, and not enough awareness of it in mainstream culture. Because of this, it’s easy for period poverty to be overlooked. I felt passionate about making this piece, in order to expose a very human experience, which I hope people from all walks of life can sympathise with, whilst helping to raise money for a good cause.
You can buy your ticket for ‘A Bloody Shambles’ here – https://live-stream.zarucchi.com/events/a-bloody-shambles/feed
Ella also has another audio drama in the festival, ‘On Record’, co-written with Cameron Essam. Find out more and buy tickets here – https://live-stream.zarucchi.com/events/on-record/feed