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Sextet sexytet
The Sexytet and the Sextet have been performing some of their songs together for the last two years

When you think about six-person acapella groups who perform at The Capping Show – progressive and inclusive might not be the first words that come to mind, nor songs about menstruation and the male gaze.

That's where the Sexytet comes in.

Convenor Mary Holden, a fourth year Law student, explains that while most capping show aficionados will have heard of the Sextet, its female counterpart, the Sexytet, is far less well known, despite being around since 2001.

“We haven't been around for anywhere near as long! The Sextet first performed in 1912, when women were a tiny minority of students at the University.

“I suppose the notion of any of those female students singing a risqué comedy performance was just a bit too much,” says Mary.

Both groups are performing as part of Otago's Capping Show which launches this week, for its 129th outing, with performances from Thursday. 18 May to Wednesday, 24 May.

The Capping Show is a provocative sketch-based comedy show, by students for students. This year the theme is going back – way back – it's 'Back to the Flat'.

sextet image 1 - Copy
The Capping Show is back...

Along with the Sextet and the Sexytet, the show will feature eight sketches, and performances from familiar contributors the Selwyn Ballet and The Capping Show band.

An article written by Ali Clarke describes a performance the first iteration of Sexytet, a performance at the 1966 Capping Show by a six-part all-female acapella group.

The 1966 group were called the 'Sextette', but it seems society wasn't ready - reviews in the ODT were poor, and it proved to be a one-off.

This year's Sexytet members are Mary, Samantha Elliott, Isa de Vries, Sarah Grondona, Oli Morphew and Bethany Cook, and they're a combination of undergraduates, postgraduate students and graduates from the University.

Co-convenor Samantha, who graduated with a MusB and a BCom in December, explains that the Sexytet has existed in its current form since 2001.

“We love to make our audience laugh, we address topics which are just as shocking as the Sextet, but we also try to add an alternative perspective.

“In recent years we have worked to be more progressive and inclusive, and while our songs are pretty rude, they're not all about sex and drugs.”

Singing teacher and Otago graduate Beth, in her second year performing with the Sexytet, outlines some of the themes of their songs.

“This year we have songs about the menstrual cycle, constipation, being called crazy, the male gaze and pick-me girls.”

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Have we badly photoshopped the Sexytet's photo so that they're in front of the clocktower? Perhaps…

Second year PPE tauira Oli thinks there can be a kind of 'pink tax' applied to women in music.

“It feels like we have to work harder to toe the line between funny and overly explicit, and that as women we are judged far more for our singing, our arrangements, our outfits and the topics we cover than the boys are.

“That's why it's so good to have them on our side. We don't want to be girls vs boys, and we don't want to be 'the girl version' of the sextet, we want to be our own thing.

“The Sextet are great, it's the patriarchy that is the problem.”

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Not to worry we have also badly photoshopped the boys into a nice autumnal Otago scene.

Sextet convenor Finn Shaw, a second-year law student, was the person who made sure that the Sexytet were interviewed alongside the sextet.

“We work very closely with the girls, and they're thrilled to have this opportunity as well. Due to the Sexytet's shorter lifespan when compared with Sextet, they can often be overlooked, and that is a real shame.

“Because the boy's group has such a long history – they've been around forever – they get a lot more publicity, they perform at reunions, and they're interviewed a lot.

“The Sexytet are working really hard to earn the same level of recognition, and they really deserve it.”

This year the Sextet are all undergraduates, which is unusual. The tauira behind the clown makeup for 2023 are Tama Anthony-Whigham, Finn, Jack Archibald, Alex Clarkson, Nick Finnie and Ewen Clarke- Wallace.

First year BA History tauira, Alex, says that they have to have a level of self-awareness to perform this kind of comedy show.

“We know it's silly, we want to make people laugh.”

To book your tickets for The Capping Show follow this link.

Kōrero by Alice Billington, Internal Communications Adviser

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