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Bitch Boxer packs a punch

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“Ballsy, bold and beautiful” is how writer Charlotte Josephine describes Bitch Boxer, a one-woman show about a young boxer training for the fight of her life.

The play, which will be presented at Holden Street Theatres throughout the Adelaide Fringe, is set in London in 2012, when female boxers were allowed to compete at the Olympics for the first time. Bitch Boxer garnered a host of impressive four and five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and has won a number of awards.

Here, Josephine – co-director of the UK’s Snuff Box Theatre – explains more about the show and how it led to her becoming a boxer herself.

How would you describe “Bitch Boxer” in a sentence?

An adrenaline-fuelled, sweat-soaked story of one pumped-up underdog full of heart.

As well as being a writer, director and actor, you’re also a boxer – how much of the play was inspired by real-life experience?  

I started training at Islington Boxing Club in North London for research while writing the play. I was keen to engage myself into the world of boxing as much as I could in order to represent it with respectful and educated choices. I very quickly fell in love with the sport and decided to train as an amateur boxer for my own personal satisfaction. I recently won a silver medal at the Golden Girls Championship in Boras, Sweden.

So writing the play has made me pursue the sport – before writing Bitch Boxer, I knew nothing about boxing.

When you perform your own work, people naturally assume the writing is autobiographical. There are aspects of Chloe that are similar to me, and of course I’ve poured some of my heart into the story, so parts of it are very close to home, but the play is fiction.

The central character in the play, 21-year-old boxer Chloe (played by Holly Augustine), is said to have a fondness for Sambuca and “hairbrush-in-the-mirror karaoke”. Tell us a bit more about her …

Chloe Jackson is a very likeable character, self-deprecating and witty. Sweat-slicked and tough, she’s a refreshingly strong young woman, determined to succeed. Like a fast flurry of punches, her tongue is sharp, colloquial and cool. Yet there’s a sweetness to our Clo, especially around Jamie, who always seems to melt her hard exterior for just long enough, showing us a glimpse of softness before she snaps back to her fiery self.

What were some of the challenges posed by writing and presenting the story as a one-woman show?

Snuff Box Theatre is passionate about telling good stories on stage. As much as we do get excited about experimenting with explorative and innovative theatre styles and methods, we strongly believe the work is essentially empty without heart, without a bloody good story.

We enjoy making theatre that is a live experience for each audience, which is why Holly Augustine performs Bitch Boxer directly addressing the audience.  It helps keep the work fresh. Each performance is brave and honest; it’s happening with you in this room right now.

A challenge of writing a one-person show is the temptation to slip into “telling and not showing”. There needs to be action in each scene to drive the story. The subject matter of Bitch Boxer combats this problem easily because boxing is so inherently theatrical. The ring is a stage; a boxer is performing, and wow, what a performance.  A boxer gives it everything they’ve got, literally fighting for it, and what could be more compelling than that?

Why is Bitch Boxer a must-see show for Adelaide Fringe audiences?

It’s award-winning writing presented by an award-winning company. It’s ballsy and bold and beautiful.  It’s also a heartfelt and honest human story of one young woman’s struggle.  And it’s not in Australia for long, so don’t miss it!

Bitch Boxer is being presented by Snuff Box Theatre, in collaboration with Richard Jordan Productions, at Holden Street Theatres – The Studio from February 11 until March 16.

 More Fringe stories:

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Fringe ambassador Katie Noonan

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