It has been a great couple of years for writer Ella Hickson. She took apart the male power structures of theatre with The Writer at the Almeida and produced one of the most intriguing plays of the year so far in Anna. That piece used binaural sound delivered via headphones to create a place of secrets and lies, dissectings the life of a woman living in East Germany under the communist regime. Hickson worked with director Natalie Abrahami on Anna and they’re teaming up again for Swive, a show about power and sex set in the court of Elizabeth I. She was a mighty monarch but she was insecure about her looks as she aged.
SWIVE (archaic, transitive) To copulate with (a woman). (archaic, transitive, dialectal ) To cut a crop in a sweeping or rambling manner, hence to reap; cut for harvest. Elizabeth was a political mastermind and monarchic force who reigned supreme for 45 years, and yet she still felt that her power ultimately resided in her beauty. Swive, a new play by award-winning writer Ella Hickson (The Writer, Almeida; ANNA, National Theatre) and directed by Natalie Abrahami (ANNA, National Theatre; Machinal, Almeida), interrogates the power of aesthetics in gaining and maintaining control in a patriarchy. The power of kings is never predicated on their appearance. In Swive, Hickson shines candlelight on the savage pressure that women are under to sell themselves on their least interesting quality. If beauty is the key to survival, how do you hold on to what time will take away?