Guest Blog: 'I Have a Lot More to Learn From Her': Theatre Maker Flo O'Mahony on Ableism, Joy and Creating A PERFECT SHOW FOR RACHEL

'She is fearless, meticulous, and deeply intuitive'

By: May. 24, 2024
Guest Blog: 'I Have a Lot More to Learn From Her': Theatre Maker Flo O'Mahony on Ableism, Joy and Creating A PERFECT SHOW FOR RACHEL
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Hello! I'm Flo, Artistic Director at Zoo Co, performer in Perfect Show For Rachel, and the titular Rachel’s sister. We’re bringing our award-winning, five-star, sell-out show back to Barbican for a three week run, opening this Friday 24 May - Sunday 9 June.

Perfect Show for Rachel was developed with my sister Rachel, to create a show on her own terms. It explores who defines artistic taste, and questions who that currently excludes. For Rachel, that means we’ve made a show filled with her favourite things; Kylie Minogue, shouty garage music, violence, fart jokes, people falling over and lots of dancing.

Guest Blog: 'I Have a Lot More to Learn From Her': Theatre Maker Flo O'Mahony on Ableism, Joy and Creating A PERFECT SHOW FOR RACHEL
Flo and Rachel

The show is live-directed by Rachel on stage every night, using a custom-built tech desk with about 50 different ‘buttons’, each one triggering a different scene, story, song, dance or game. That desk controls absolutely everything in the show - lighting, video, sound, the actors.

The show is different every night, and this time around, Rachel’s direction is developing! She is so chatty, she pauses scenes to redirect (or heckle) the cast, she knows what she wants and she won’t settle for compromise. She confidently commands the production, with certainty, precision and an iconic sense of comedic timing.

I think the power and politic of this show lies in the gut, underscoring its radically joyful energy. We have all grown up in an ableist society; none of us are exempt from that. It takes courage for this entire company to agree that whatever Rachel thinks is good theatre, is. I would love to tell you that’s not the case, but actually, that’s the point of the show.

Guest Blog: 'I Have a Lot More to Learn From Her': Theatre Maker Flo O'Mahony on Ableism, Joy and Creating A PERFECT SHOW FOR RACHEL
Perfect Show For Rachel cast

We have a lot of ideas about what ‘perfect theatre’ is and who gets to make work that is seen as being truly excellent. Neither of those ideas consider the possible artistic endeavours of an artist like Rachel. For me, I am a control freak, and a director myself, so stepping into Rachel’s leadership is a challenge! I've found a phrase Lee Simpson, my mentor, said absolutely pivotal - ‘what if we just assume that everything Rachel does is genius? That every word is poetry? That every decision is informed and deliberate?’. And when I watch Rachel’s work through that lens, my god, that perfection is easy for me to find.

She is fearless, meticulous, and deeply intuitive. She doesn’t concern herself with what her audience will or won’t think about the work, but is sharply attuned to the audience’s reactions. She plays the crowd, she even directs them at times, without a shadow of cynicism or self-doubt. Now that the barriers the world puts around her have been removed, she’s the least blocked artist I have ever known. She’s the first director at Zoo Co to have a 5 star Guardian review, and she simply doesn’t care. I have a lot more to learn from her.

Guest Blog: 'I Have a Lot More to Learn From Her': Theatre Maker Flo O'Mahony on Ableism, Joy and Creating A PERFECT SHOW FOR RACHEL
Rachel at the custom-built tech desk

My favourite thing I’ve heard from audiences is that the show has made them wonder how they can show up more to the people in their lives who relate differently to ‘normative’ expectations in the world, or that they wish their sibling/ friend/ colleague could have a version of Perfect Show.

Whilst we can’t do Perfect Show For Rachel perfectly 24/7, it might be as simple as deciding to spend one hour in that headspace with the people that they love. I'm so thrilled we're returning to Barbican. The show has grown and sharpened in so many ways, with new buttons added to reflect Rachel’s shifting tastes, new stories and interests. It sold-out last time, and some nights are selling out already, so get your tickets soon!

Perfect Show For Rachel Runs at the Barbican until 9 June




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