Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 23 February 2017

Review: How To Come Out Black at the Yard Theatre

The Yard Theatre ⋄ 21 - 25 February 2017

Inspired by Vanessa Macaulay’s performance of How To Come Out Black at NOW festival, Daniel Perks offers some guidelines on how to create a satirical, multimedia performance that proves a point.

Daniel Perks
Vanessa Macauly performing How To Come Out Black at the Yard Theatre.

Vanessa Macauly performing How To Come Out Black at the Yard Theatre.

How to create a satirical, multimedia performance, inspired by How To Come Out Black:

  • Pick a popular topic that is relatable and highly commented on. Writer and performer Vanessa Macaulay looks at a combination of issues that influence black female stereotypes – derogatory rap videos; Kim Kardashian’s backside; make-up and the overly stylised body.
  • Compare and contrast. Look at the issues and devise a satirical, mocking reproduction, everything that is absurdist and anti- to the popular nature of what you are looking to portray. Mimic the infamous Kardashian portrait, using low budget but ultimately more hilarious objects. Why not substitute champagne for Lambrini, a bootylicious behind for some stretchy pants stuffed with paper? Affordable, accessible and avant garde.
  • Remove the glitz and glamour. Expensive makeup can make you look like a superstar, but household items are easier to get hold of. Honey as a base coat; coffee as foundation (make sure to match your natural skin tone – Macaulay finds medium roast the best blend); flour for accents and contours.
  • Top Tip! Apply chilli seeds to your lips before the gloss. The eye-watering pain will swell your mouth and give you that luscious, lustful look you’ve been longing for. Temporarily resembling Noel Fielding’s moon in The Mighty Boosh is only a side effect.
  • Cover all bases. Use music videos, song lyrics and beauty tips to create an effective social commentary. When looking at a rap song be sure to use those buzz words for maximum effect – dick; pussy; ass. To get you started, here are some examples to include in your personalised lyrical masterpiece:
    “Take that dick girl, your friend will wait for you.”
    “Skankin’ ho, she about to blow.”
  • If in doubt, a matter-of-fact delivery will contrast with the fantasy in the words and create a better comic effect.
  • Play on the different senses of the audience. Use different media, be it song, video, live performance or the overwhelming acrid stench of Lambrini wafting through the theatre. All these combine to paint your picture. But don’t go overboard – perhaps the lack of sound is more impactful. If an audience sees a generic modern hiphop video, mute it and focus attention on the twerking bikinis. Why not showcase your own twerking skills too?
  • Production values are key. Don’t worry about exotic locations with today’s technology – a green screen in your office works just as well. Thinking about that expensive Lamborghini to cruise for bitches? Zoom in on a remote control car and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. Hoping to be showered in dollar bills? Peppered with 2p coins is much more cheap and cheerful – no pain, no gain in this business.
  • Don’t forget to ask for permission to reproduce modern music culture. If you don’t get approval, superimpose your own face (coffee grounds and flour included) on the twerking dancers. Privacy protected, point proven.

How To Come Out Black is on until 25th February 2017 at the Yard Theatre. Click here for more details. 


Daniel Perks

Daniel has been involved in theatre ever since moving to London and is now a full-time freelance journalist and writer, focussing on the arts and culture sector. He has written for a number of publications and is currently the Theatre Editor of Miro Magazine, as well as a Super Assessor for the Off-West End Awards (The Offies). He is particularly interested in fringe work ranging from operas to new musicals to solo theatre performances. He blogs at Culture By Night (

Review: How To Come Out Black at the Yard Theatre Show Info

Written by Vanessa Macaulay

Cast includes Vanessa Macaulay



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