Florence Espeut-Nickless is currently touring her one-woman, critically acclaimed, live theatre performance DESTINY, based on her experiences of being a young woman growing up in a below-the-breadline community.
We caught up with Florence mid-tour to find out how she hopes the show will resonate with young people in Kendal.
Although DESTINY is explicitly set in Chippenham, Wiltshire, Florence explains how Destiny’s experiences translate to other towns by touching on themes that run throughout rural communities regardless of background and geographical location:
“When you grow up in a rural area, tourists don’t see the side of your hometown that you yourself experience; the limited opportunities, and the isolation… Young people can feel forgotten.”
DESTINY explores hard-hitting themes of sexual abuse and misuse of power, and gives weight to the unheard voices of working-class communities both nationally, and internationally. As an artist, she is passionate about connecting with as many young people and audiences to make the arts more accessible to everyone.
“I didn’t see myself represented in theatre, it felt very middle class to me, very posh, as though you have to speak a certain way. Your accent is stripped, and your behaviour is stripped, along with your identity.
“I wanted to tell the story from a rural working-class perspective which I wasn’t seeing in theatre or in the arts in general,” said Florence.
Florence describes the production as semi-autobiographical, the story of a teenage girl growing up on a council estate. After a big night out takes a turn for the worse, Destiny’s life spirals out of control as she desperately tries to learn how to love and be loved.
The UK Tour of DESTINY is funded by Arts Council England and presented in partnership with Tender; the only UK charity focused solely on preventing domestic abuse amongst young people, providing a safe and playful space in which they can engage with sensitive topics.
“It’s been amazing to see how the show connects with so many girls and young women. I hope it inspires young people to share their own stories in an authentic, truthful, bold, brave, unashamed way that is truthful to them. The show comes from my experiences, my community, my people, but the themes are represented all over the world” explained Florence.
As well as the more traditional theatres, Florence has performed DESTINY in community centres, schools on council estates, and independent arts venues, ensuring the tour reaches those who wouldn’t normally have access to live theatre.
Florence concluded: “It’s important to connect with young people in different ways because it shows that wherever you’re from, you can still dream big and your story still deserves to be heard”
Florence Espeut-Nickless performs DESTINY at Brewery Arts, on 20 October, starting 7.30pm. You can book tickets here.