Political Cabaret

Talia Randall is a dyslexic writer, performer and artist who has performed in places such as The Roundhouse, Wales Millennium Centre, Bristol Old Vic, Glastonbury and The Edinburgh Fringe. Her studio is here in Tottenham where she spends a lot of time creating her work. Rachel Ho caught up with Talia ahead of one her political variety shows "Question Time Cabaret" featuring some of the UK’s most innovative and daring artists, which is taking place at rich mix on Friday evening.

Talia Randall : Photo by Mike Massaro

Where did you grow up and what did your parents do? 

I’m grew up on an estate in Cricklewood. What is Cricklewood I hear you ask? A place we used to affectionately call ‘the armpit of North West London’. But now that it's gentrified we call it ’that neighbourhood we can’t afford anymore’.   My dad is what you would call a ‘factotum’ (posh way of saying ‘odd job man’) but he’s retired now so spends most of his time doing what he calls ‘advanced pottering’. My mum is a filmmaker and runs an animation company that makes activist films, mainly about human rights abuses against women and girls.  Describe your relationship to Tottenham.

I have a studio in the same building as Craving Coffee on Markfield road. You’ll usually find me writing terrible jokes, weird poems and funding applications during the week, or trying to build up the courage to do Karaoke at Mannions on the weekend. I live further East (so east it’s nearly Essex!) but spend loads of my time in my studio. I love Tottenham, but its hard at the moment seeing lots of people being pushed out of the area because of consistent increases in house prices, we are at a crisis point in London. As someone who has grown up in social housing I often ask myself what I can do to make the situation better for people who live locally, like where I spend my money, or how I can support local campaigns like this one: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/latinvillagepueblitopaisa/

Tell us about your art and what inspires you.

I make & curate political cabaret / comedy shows, I write and perform poetry and I make joyous, (sometimes silly) theatre. I’ve performed all over - Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe, Wales Millennium Centre, New York, Croydon. 

Press shot for Question Time Cabaret, shot on Markfeld Road, Tottenham : Photo by Mike Massaro My work is often concerned with power - who has it, who does’t and what we can do about it. Sometimes I talk about class, sometimes about gender and sometimes I write idiotic raps about fax machines.

My way into performing and making shows was through being part of youth projects in my late teens and early twenties. These projects helped me find my voice and helped me take myself more seriously.  What is Question Time Cabaret? How did it come about?

Question Time Cabaret is exactly how it sounds - a glitter drenched variety show punctuated with political debate. Expect punk drag, eye-popping belly dancing, heart-stopping poetry and rabble rousing debate. 

From Last year’s sold out Question Time Cabaret; artists featured in the photo are The LipSinkers : Photo by Mike Massaro

Each show has a different theme with some of the UK’s finest and fiercest performers and journalists delving into current issues. This edition we’re talking about Beauty - Who gets to decide who is beautiful? How can we celebrate bodies and stories that are overlooked & trampled on? How can we dismantle the patriarchy and challenge the male gaze?

This show features: 

  • Stephanie Yeboah: Writer, fat acceptance advocate and multi-award nominated plus size fashion blogger

  • Vanessa Kisuule a poet and burlesque artist presenting excerpts from her show Sexy, a piece about the conflicted relationship with our bodies and our obsession with what is sexy

  • Chiyo Gomes: self-titled ‘punk trash’ drag king serving porn and politics, arousing, empowering and challenging audiences

  • Penny Pepper Taboo breaking punk poet & disability advocate 

  • Sunny the Snake Boy: Bellydancer and Serpent Master stunning the audience with show-stopping moves

  • Katie Greenall: Roundhouse Resident Artist who will share material from her debut show 'Fatty Fat Fat' 

The show comes from the idea that everything is political - especially what we have (or don’t have) access too. But we’ve tricked ourselves into thinking that politics is just some dry old grey men talking on telly. This is exactly what they want us to think! With Question Time Cabaret we’re trying to create a space where voices who are often overlooked are heard loudly and celebrated wildly. Its a proper fun night out that will move and challenge you as well as entertain.  As a woman, how do you think Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change?

We need a dramatic increase in social housing, we need rent stabilisation and we need more dedicated community spaces, especially youth spaces, not just in Tottenham, but everywhere.  

A big part of my work involves running creative & social projects for young people all over London and the lack of resources available to young people is criminal. Young people are under so much pressure at the moment and we need to open up more dedicated community spaces for teenagers - space to just be and have fun, as well access to support and advice. 

Talia Randall : Photo by Mike Massaro

Favourite thing to do in Tottenham?

I think I already mentioned Mannions but I love it so much we need to talk about it again. 

Anything you would like to add?

I love Mannions. 

Find out more about Talia and her performances:

#womenartists #womeninthearts #womenwriters #womenperformers #politicalcaberat #dyslexicartist