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Guest Blog: Katie Arnstein On STICKY DOOR at the VAULT Festival

Guest Blog: Katie Arnstein On STICKY DOOR at the VAULT Festival
Sticky Door

I am 16, I am at school and I am learning what it means, to me, to be a woman. I am learning how much society influences this.

Fast-forward.

I am a few years older. I am on my journey to becoming an actor. I face sexism in the industry.

Fast-forward.

It is 2014, I'm experimenting with my sex life. I'm learning about my own mental health. I am discovering the spaces you are 'allowed' to occupy as a woman.

Fast-forward.

It is 2020. I have written storytelling shows about all of the above. Because it is all so funny, no? The shows are Bicycles and Fish, Sexy Lamp and Sticky Door. Collectively, they are the It's A Girl! trilogy.

Bicycles and Fish was the first thing I had ever written. It's semi-autobiographical, so I was able to draw from my own experiences in order to create the piece. It started as a scratch night entry, which I performed at Redbridge Drama Centre in 2016. They saw it and liked it, very kindly gave me space to develop this piece, and that work became my first show.

I had no idea how it was going to go. I didn't think I could possibly have an hour's worth of material in me, and I certainly didn't know if anyone would want to hear it. I performed Bicycles and Fish at VAULT Festival in 2018, and from that created Sexy Lamp and Sticky Door.

I wanted to write about sexism because I wanted to draw attention to the small, everyday micro-aggressions that women face and how we can challenge them safely. I was about 18 when I started calling myself a feminist, so I am trying to make up for lost time.

The themes the shows deal with are big and often serious, but I promise they are comedies, and everyone gets a sweet. I wanted to change how people think about sexism, or at least bring it to everyone's attention, and I thought I would have to try and win people over and then deliver a message. I hope that's what It's A Girl! does.

The sexism that has shaped my life, opportunities and where I am now is extremely personal, but by no means just my story. We have learnt that through the #MeToo movement that the problem is at every level of society and so affects us all either directly or indirectly.

Sticky Door is coming to VAULT Festival this month, with a superb team including director Ellen Havard and creative producer Beccy D'Souza. The title comes from a Desert Island Disc interview I heard with Dame Minouche Shafik where she described the barriers she faced not being a glass ceiling, that once it shatters everyone can come through, but a series of sticky doors. You need to push against it, have someone helping you the other side and be prepared to help others.

This idea really resonated with me. I have had many doors opened for me recently and I am so grateful. Some stay firmly shut and I am fighting to open them.

Sticky Door at the VAULT Festival 11-16 February

Photo credit: Simon Jefferis

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