It’s back and bolder than ever – VAULT Festival 2018, running until 18 March 2018. Theatre editor Daniel Perks catches up with the creative team bringing Conquest to this year’s festival:

VAULT Festival 2018 – it was one of my Theatre Picks to kick off the year. It’s London’s biggest arts festival, taking place in a series of subterranean tunnels beneath Waterloo station, as well as expanding into the nearby Waterloo East Theatre and Network Theatre. Now in its sixth year, it promises to be an eight-week cultural nerve centre, inviting audiences to over 300 shows.

Here at Miro Magazine, we are incredibly excited by the biggest offering that The Vaults has ever seen – we have already picked our top shows that should not be missed! Throughout the festival, we will be profiling some of the shows playing this year – getting to know the theatre companies and performers that are bringing work to London’s version of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Next up in our Spotlight feature is Conquest, which plays VAULT Festival from 21 – 25 February2018. I caught up with the creative team – director Jess Daniels, writer Katie Caden and producer Rachael Smith:

Describe Conquest in three words.

Jess: Bold, funny, feminist.

Katie: powerful, punchy, provocative

Rachael: Cakey ragey goodness.

Is this your first VAULT Festival performance experience?

Yes, as a company – We’re really looking forward to it. There’s such a variety of work at VAULT, from planning my own funeral and ceilidh dancing with drag kings). It’s exciting to know we’re in such good company.

JessI directed The Many Crimes of Hector Cartwright with Rusted Dust in 2017, which won a Highly Commended award. It’s great to be back with our first show together.

Who else are you most looking forward to seeing while at the VAULT Festival?

Jess: The Mulligan Collection – Forgiveness, Shell and Davey at the Start and the End – actually so many things I can’t list them all! There’s a brilliant amount of feminist theatre this year and I want to catch it all.

Rachael: All the women. There’s LOADS of us this year.

Katie: Well, 52%, which is better representation than many programmes!.

Who or what are your inspirations?

Jess: Katie & Rachael (a.k.a my PearShaped partners in crime). Since we’ve started working together we’ve had so many butterfly-inducing, exciting conversations about both this project and ones for the future. I love a challenge and between us I think we are always asking ‘what next?’ and ‘how can we make this bigger/ better/ bolder than we initially thought?’

Katie: As a writer, it’s the feeling of getting completely lost in a story inside my own head. When you know enough about the story and your characters that you can just follow them through your mind instead of pushing them in certain directions. Knowing that I will get to that place again gets me through when it’s beginning to feel like a chore.

Rachael: It’s super cheesy – but I have a niece and a god daughter; both under three years old, they’re the coolest little people. I want them to grow up into a world where they can be the heroes in their own stories, so I love telling stories that are honest, messy and hopeful.

What are the future plans for Conquest?

Jess: We’re talking about a regional tour, possibly Edinburgh.

Rachael: Yeah, we’d love to take the show around the country, even get out quite rural. The show highlights the need for open conversations around consent, and the importance of access to quality Sexual and Relationship Education (SRE) for young people – hopefully Conquest will get out there and make the case.

What is the best production you have seen in the last 12 months?

Jess: An Octoroon at the Orange Tree. It was so exciting, so all consuming. I can’t wait for the transfer!

Katie: I have to admit I haven’t seen a lot of theatre in the last 12 months – I lived in Hereford and am currently in Chester, there isn’t a lot of theatre in either of those places. I try and catch some shows when I’m in London though and I saw Ink in the summer by James Graham and loved it. He’s an incredible story-teller and makes political topics really accessible. He’s one of my playwrighting idols.

Rachael: Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, I caught it at Soho Theatre straight after it came back from Edinburgh Fringe. It’s a phenomenal piece of work. I think it’s going onto Netflix soon.

Is there anything else you want to highlight about Conquest?

Katie: This show began its life a couple of years ago, but with recent rise the #MeToo movement, these conversations are finally beginning to take place in public, on a wider scale.

Rachael: The recent Aziz Ansari story particularly resonated with us, as it’s about the murkier area of sexual mis-conduct – it’s not as clear cut as when discussing serial high profile assaulters, like Weinstein, for example. A lot of the questions around the Ansari story resonate with those posed by Conquest.

Katie: We’re in the process of setting up a consent café with Vault, so we can create a space for that debate.

Jess: Since forming PearShaped, we’ve always wanted to look at how our work engages with our audiences; we don’t just want people to come and watch, and then leave and move on to the next thing. The café will allow people to come and digest the show, talk about anything that it may have brought up and also be a space for some Q&A sessions with relevant charities, as well the cast and the three of us.

Katie: It’ll be a space to chat, decompress, have a rant if you need to. We’ll have some useful resources and recommendations on hand – watch this space.


Writer: Katie Caden

Drector: Jessica Daniels

Producer: Rachael Smith for PearShaped

Cast: Colette Eaton; Lucy Walker-Evans

Conquest plays as part of VAULT Festival 2018 from 21 – 25 February 2018. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.