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A whole day of arts programming around childlessness! Sat 27th April at the Barbican (London)

You wouldn’t think that something called ‘FertilityFest’ is something I’d write about, but as one of its Founders is Jessica Hepburn (childless author of ‘The Pursuit of Motherhood’ and ’21 Miles’) it’s an arts festival about fertility that includes childlessness (for both men and women) as part of the story of modern fertility. Now in its third year, FertiltyFest has been named by the London Evening Standard as one of London’s top arts festivals.

Saturday 27th April is the ‘There’s More to Life than Children’ day at FertilityFest and I’m SO proud to be the chair for the day.

The day is divided into 3 programmes (Women Speak; Men Speak; Fertility Fight Club) and you can buy tickets for each of them individually (£10 each) or a day pass for all 3 (£20). There’s also the evening premiere of Julia Leigh’s play about childlessness, Avalanche, with childless actress Maxine Peake in the lead. (GWs have been booking tickets in the A and B rows of the Upper Circle, so if you’re coming, maybe you’d like to book in that area too?)

It’s going to be an amazing day/evening and if the laughter and connections in and around the events are anything like last year, absolutely not to be missed! If you’d like to meet and mingle with other childless women (and say hello to me) in a friendly and non-committal way (ie, you don’t have to identify yourself or say hello if you’re feeling shy), please come along. If you’ve never been amongst other childless women before, you’re in for such a treat – we’re an awesome, friendly and fascinating bunch of women, and nothing like the social misfits and freaks that society ‘says’ we are. That’s #PronatalistPiffle and the sooner you can get rid of that idea about yourself and other childless women, the happier the rest of your life will be!

Come and see:

  • Italian-Scottish singer-songwriter Chiara Berardelli will be sharing tracks from her third and most personal album to date, Seamonster, inspired by the loss of her dream to become a mother and how the Gateway Women online community helped her make it through – there’s even a song about us called Sanctuary. (You can watch/read/listen to my interview with Chiara last year here)
  • Yorkshire based theatre-maker Victoria Firth will be performing an extract from her hit, hilarious 2018 Edinburgh Festival solo show How To Be Amazingly Happy! which explores how you find a new ‘once upon a time’ after the ‘happy ever after’ never turned up.
  • Actor and writer Rod Silvers is determined to give a voice to childless men. He began back in 2011 with his short film England Expects which used football as a metaphor for going through unsuccessful IVF. And in 2018 he wrote, produced and performed in ‘Terry and Jude’, a play about the lives of two older, single, childless men. But if you think those sound like stories of defeat and sadness, then think again. Rod who started his creative life as a stand-up comedian will never fail to make you grin!
  • One of the UK’s most celebrated writers, Benjamin Zephaniah, will be interviewed on stage by Fertility Fest Director Jessica Hepburn about his personal experience of infertility. As one of the first male artists to speak about the subject, this will be an amazing and rare opportunity to hear Benjamin’s story in his own wise and wonderful words.
  • Fertility Fight Club – speaker 1: Yvonne John is the author of Dreaming of a Life Unlived and the leading voice on the childless experience of women of colour. Yvonne is a graduate of Gateway Women’s Plan B Mentorship Program and a trained facilitator for the Gateway Women Reignite Weekends (she’ll be co-facilitating her next one in November). You can watch/read/listen to my interview with Yvonne and read her blog for Gateway Women ‘The Black Women in the Room’ here.
  • Fertility Flight Club – speaker 2: Bibi Lynch is a journalist and broadcaster and a fierce advocate for childless by circumstance women. Her frank, funny, angry and passionate voice is one that the childless community has needed for a long time. Bibi’s been a huge advocate and support for Gateway Women. You can listen to me on her Radio Soho show here and read her work here.
  • Fertility Fight Club – speaker 3: Sheridan Voysey is a journalist and broadcaster and the author of 2019’s The Making of Us: Who We Can Become When Life Doesn’t Go to Plan. Sheridan writes from a faith-based perspective in a modern and unstuffy way about coming to terms with life as a childless couple. Whether you’re a Christian or not, if you’ve walked the path of childlessness, you’ll be familiar enough with dark nights of the soul to relate to his work.

The whole day will be topped off by the premiere of ‘Avalanche’ a play based on Julia Leigh’s extraordinary memoir of IVF and childlessness and which, in a complete casting COUP, features childless actress Maxine Peake in the lead role (GWs have been booking tickets in the A and B rows of the Upper Circle, so if you’re coming, maybe you’d like to book in that area too?)

I will be the Chair for all of this except the FertilityFight Clubs (last year I was one of the speakers and it’ll be nice NOT to be doing that this year!) This is OUR day at FertilityFest do come along and it would be lovely to see you. You could even get yourself a GW badge for the day if you like so that we can all spot each other!

I’ll be around in the morning before the day kicks off from 10am-12noon for a breakfast Meetup in the cafe by the water at the Barbican, and in the evening from 6-7pm in the theatre bar for pre-theatre drinks before Avalanche. Do come and say hello!

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