SLAP, York’s pay-what-you-can contemporary performance festival, opens on Wednesday.

Run by Lydia Cottrell and Sophie Unwin, from York company 70/30 Split, the four-day Social Live Art Performance event supports the development of “risky, small-scale dance, theatre, cabaret and live art with performances in York Theatre Royal Studio and four other locations in the city.

SLAP will embrace themes of queerness, zombies, Millennials and their predecessors, masculinity, connection and more, giving voice to works “on the fringes of traditional performance”. In a nutshell: Lydia and Sophie tend to put “unusual work into usual spaces for unsuspecting audiences”.

First up will be SLAP Scratch at the York St John Spark Community Theatre, in Piccadilly, on Wednesday from 7.30pm to 9pm: an evening of ideas for performance by York St John University artists from the Theatre and Performance MA course, taking in new writing, live art, stories and provocations.

Armed with a guitar, original songs and a fridge full of drinks, director, writer and performer Emma Geraghty presents Fat Girl Singing in the YTR Studio on Thursday at 7pm, focusing on body and sexual identity. Her one-hour, BSL-interpreted show is “an anthem for those who have ever felt that their body is up for debate; a call to arms to those who don’t fit the model”.

The Studio welcomes choreographer Beth Cassani and Panic Lab co-artistic director Joseph Mercier’s new dance work The Faun Project on Friday at 7pm. This conversation between Millennials and their predecessors is set in a club in the afternoon, after a long night out,in a project that explores youth subcultural politics, aesthetics and body.

York Press:

Northern Rascals in The Mesmerist on Saturday

The Northern Rascals’ show, The Mesmerist, in the Studio on Saturday at 11am whisks the audience away to the wondrous land where angels wander. Through dance, clowning and optical illusions, quirky duo Alf and Annie set off on a magical journey of love and loss, hope and adventure. Both comedic and poignant, this family-friendly show considers the importance of friendship and of reaching out to find the light when your world loses its spark.

A hero and minotaur are locked in the ultimate death match in the Studio on Saturday at 7pm, as PanicLab’sTheseus Beefcake journeys into the dark labyrinth of masculinity, colliding with mixed martial arts, death metal, American frat culture and Greek mythology en route. Joseph Mercier and Lennie (no surname) push against their personal thresholds of pain and pleasure in a dance and theatre duel that reflects on masculine excess, fantasy, friendship and competition. This performance will be BSL interpreted.

At the John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate on Thursday at 8.30pm, London performance art duo Antonio Branco and Riccardo T bring “an inherent queer energy” to Softcore Boundries, wherein they explore the voyeuristic qualities of safe spaces. Expect nudity and sexual references.

In the same location on Friday, Samir Kennedy offers the chance to be in the same room as a zombie in a “visceral performance installation”, Looks Like God, at 8pm to 9.30pm. Kennedy appropriates the zombie body “in all its grotesque glory, to seek out where revulsion and attraction co-exist in a putrefied wasteland of displaced desire and hypersexual sexiness”.

Further shows include Ben Mills’s God’s Own Country (Albion), from noon to 2pm and 3pm to 5pm on Saturday in the De Grey Rooms, a 10-minute one-to-one encounter with the dyslexic Yorkshire baker, who looks at masculine intimacy, insecurity and the politics of work.

York performance poet Henry Raby will hold a spoken-word workshop on Thursday at 2pm at Spark, while at the same, same place, next day, the Pink Suits workshop will improvise a “new, non-gendered form of social dance in a resistance move against gender roles in partner dancing”. Both workshops are free. SLAP bookings can be made at or on 01904 623568.