Join 'gentle activist' Kate for an evening in Staindrop
POET and comedian Kate Fox once thought receiving a positive diagnosis for autism had as much chance of happening as a female Doctor Who. Since the Doctor’s 13th incarnation, played by Jodie Whittaker since 2018, the Ms Fox’s life has changed quite a bit.
The writer, performer and regular on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, is bringing a new show exploring neurodiversity through the lens of the afore mentioned time traveller to Teesdale as part of the Highlights Rural Touring Scheme.
Funny and thought-provoking, her show Bigger on the Inside looks at how the enduring sci-fi drama has shaped her view of the world. Blending stand up, spoken word and personal memoir with startling facts, she hopes to shed light on how ideas of normality need an update.
“I was diagnosed with autism in the summer of 2017, when I was 42,” said Ms Fox, who added that she’s keen to talk about it now because the current perception of what autistic means is woefully out of date.
“People say, ‘You are not like my idea of autism’. They don’t say ‘Oh perhaps my idea of autism is wrong’.”
Ms Fox is reflective when asked to describe what autism is like for her.
“I find that a really hard question. Being autistic for me is being different to the majority of people. It’s part of my identity, but it’s also a new, developing identity. It is a work-in-progress.”
Described as a combination of Victoria Wood, Alan Bennett and Willy Russell, she’s been poet in residence for the Great North Run and Glastonbury, performed her poetry on BBC TV and her comedy series The Price of Happiness has aired on BBC Radio 4.
She enjoys being a variety of things but has found it can make you hard to categorise. As she points out on stage: “If you say you’re a comedian who does poems, not many people will come and see you; whereas if you say you’re a poet who does comedy... still not many people will come and see you but at least you get Arts Council funding.”
Due to her extensive work on BBC radio, a lot of people do come and see her and she is considered one of the UK’s top stand-up poets.
Originally from Bradford and now living in North Yorkshire, she describes herself as a “gentle activist” and campaigner for the voices of Northerners, the working class, women and the neurodiverse, “speaking, writing and tutting at injustice and inequality”.
Her last sell-out touring show, Where There’s Muck There’s Bras, celebrated the unsung heroines of the north and is soon to be turned into a book.
She was working on her latest collection of poems The Oscillations (published by Nine Arches Press) when Covid-19 hit.
“A lot of these poems felt like they were about being autistic, even if it’s not explicit,” she said.
“The word ‘autism’ isn’t in the poems or the collection. But I was writing about that sense of always having to work out how close or how far away I had to be from people. This is a big question for anyone, but particularly for autistic people. This then became very literal during the pandemic.
“For me, the pandemic has shifted how I think and feel about so many things.”
Kate Fox will bring Bigger on the Inside to The Scarth Hall, Staindrop on Friday, November 19, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10 for adults, £5 for children and £23 for a family.
Book online at www.highlightsnorth.co.uk or call 07881 248478.