THE WOMEN in Comedy Festival (Sat 11 to Sun 26 October) kicked off its series of shows across Greater Manchester with the newly announced backing of Bolton-born actress Maxine Peake.
"My passion for this project arose from the need to show the vast number of women involved in the comedy scene and to encourage promoters and agents to attend the festival and scout for talent."
The festival is in its second year in the city and features more than 80 shows with 125 confirmed acts across sixteen venues until Sunday 26 October.
Following a sold out launch event on 11 October, the Women in Comedy Festival team have announced Maxine Peake as a patron of the festival while she currently enjoys widespread acclaim for her portrayal of Hamlet at The Royal Exchange.
The actress, best known for Channel 4's Shameless and Victoria Wood's Dinnerladies, said: “I’m proud to be supporting the UK Women in Comedy Festival as a patron. A festival filled with laughter combined with feminist principles taking place in the North, what’s not to support?”
The launch set the tone for the coming festival, compered by the straight-talking Glaswegian Janey Godley and featured Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Zoe Lyons, the 'as seen on BBC's Question Time' Kate Smurthwaite plus support from Jana Kennedy, Amy Vreeke, Ms B Haver and Lesley Kershaw.
The Women in Comedy Festival is to showcase a number of female comedic talent in venues such as The King Arms Theatre and The Comedy Store.
Acts fresh from performing their Edinburgh Fringe shows will showcase, in addition to solo shows from Laughing Cows' Kerry Leigh, prolific TV writer Jo Caulfield and Miranda Kane's one woman show about her adventures working as a prostitute, The Coin Operated Girl, and much more.
Elsewhere in the festival there are open-mic nights providing the opportunity for burgeoning talent to develop. There are also compilation shows such as the 'Best of the North Wes't, workshops, panel shows, comedic plays and sketch comedy.
The Women In Comedy Festival is founded by Laughing Cows comedy club creator and female comedy trailbrazer, Hazel O' Keefe, who established the festival to prove female comedians weren't 'some kind of bizarre specialist act'.
O'Keefe said: “My passion for this project arose from the need to show the vast number of women involved in the comedy scene and to encourage promoters and agents to attend the festival and scout for talent.
"It’s been something I have wanted to do for several years, so it was a matter of timing. Over the past couple of years I feel that the comedy scene has changed for the better, I used to be able to confidently name most of the female acts in the UK. That’s not the case now. A festival in the UK to showcase and celebrate in this way was inevitable.”
The festival is co-ordinated by Dulcet Sounds CEO/founder Hazel O’Keefe with the support of the 2014 crew, Laughology, Ruby Star Associates
The full line up can be downloaded here: www.womenincomedy.co.uk/2014/home
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