Her Hidden Histories – Centenary Celebration

As today marks 100 years since the first UK women were granted the right to vote, it’s about time for an update on our Her Hidden Histories project!

Last summer saw two groups of young women, from Wythenshawe and Gorton, create some fantastic performances at both the Museum of Transport and the Greater Manchester Police Museum. ‘In the Driving Seat’ told stories of the first women to work on trams and buses, largely owing to the absence of men during the First World War. ‘Top of the Bill’ explored experiences of the first women in policing during a similar period, many of whom had also been on the other side of the law as suffragettes. Both performances enjoyed a rousing inter-generational musical finale, thanks to our fantastic Herizons group!

This year, we are bringing both groups of young women together to create another ambitious performance at the stunning Victoria Baths. ‘Turning Tides: First in the Fight’ will weave together the stories uncovered in the previous two performances and celebrate the role of everyday women in the struggle for suffrage. Exact times are yet to be confirmed but there will be 3 chances to catch this exciting new piece, with an evening performance on Thursday 31st May and both a matinee and evening performance on Friday 1st June.

Watch this space for more details!

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Strong Manchester Women!

The Herizons group excelled themselves in a rousing performance inspired by strong women from Manchester’s history at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House last night!

From Peterloo activist Mary Fildes, to modern day anti-racism campaigner Louise Da-Cocodia, they took their audience on a lively journey through time with sketches and songs.

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The group have been working on the performance in weekly sessions since the beginning of March and were delighted to be able to share the stories they’d uncovered to an enthusiastic audience:

‘Fabulous performance – entertaining and informative, well done… When’s the next one?!’

‘I hope you continue to inspire others and carry on being powerful!’

‘Loved it all – the final song was very uplifting, great!’

Herizons is a community performance group of local women who meet every week for music and drama workshops at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. Some members of the group first came together to devise and perform ‘Gaskell: The Musical!’ – a sell out sensation at Manchester Histories Festival 2016 – and we are pleased to have welcomed new members along the way. The group were recently honoured to perform at Manchester City Council’s International Women’s Day Awards at the Town Hall. This term, the Herizons group has been funded by the One Manchester Community Fund and sessions are delivered by enJOY arts and Claire Mooney, in partnership with Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

We’ll soon be able to share some exciting news about what Herizons’ next adventure will be – so watch this space!

 

Herizons open International Women’s Day at the Town Hall

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In celebration of International Women’s Day yesterday, our Herizons creative women’s group were delighted to open the event at Manchester Town Hall, singing the rousing Gaskell: The Musical! anthem, Let the Women Rise.

The event was hosted by Manchester City Council and featured a keynote speech from former international athlete Diane Modahl in addition to awards for significant achievements by women across the city. The whole Herizons team had a fantastic time celebrating the strong women of Manchester and beyond in such a prestigious venue and were particularly pleased that a number of people felt moved to sing along with us in the final chorus!

Thanks to funding from One Manchester Community Soup, the group have been meeting regularly since January to take part in music and drama workshops at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. Many of the group were original cast members of Gaskell: The Musical!, though we’ve been pleased to welcome some new members along the way and hope to keep expanding the group going forward.

Herizons meet every Wednesday afternoon and are currently working towards a performance inspired by women from Manchester’s history, which we look forward to sharing in May – more details to follow soon!

Her Hidden Histories

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We’re delighted to announce our new young women’s project: Her Hidden Histories!

Over the next 2 years, we’ll be working with young women from Wythenshawe and Ardwick to uncover and celebrate stories of everyday Manchester women, creating 3 brand new site-specific performances at small heritage venues across the city.

In the first phase of the project, spring/summer 2017, we’ll be teaming up with the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester (Wythenshawe group) and the Greater Manchester Police Museum (Ardwick group), creating site-specific performances at both venues. Incorporating music, drama & dance, these performances will be inspired by hidden histories of women in the typically male-dominated industries of policing and transport in the early 20th Century. Each group will then work towards a Takeover Day at their venue in autumn 2017 where they will become creative tour guides, devising methods to engage other young people and the general public with each place, based on what inspires and excites them.

The second phase of the project in 2018 will bring the two groups together to create a larger scale performance at Victoria Baths. This will build upon elements of each previous piece and coincide with the centenary of the first women being granted the vote in summer 2018. Throughout the project, the young women will preside over the development of an interactive online resource in collaboration with Digital Women’s Archive North (DWAN) & MadLab. The project will conclude with the launch of the digital archive in December 2018.

We’re incredibly grateful to Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and The Granada Foundation for supporting this project – and we can’t wait to get started!

Merry Christmas from enJOY arts!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… and so ends another busy year for enJOY arts. 2016 certainly hasn’t been without its challenges for many, making creative community projects more relevant than ever and we’re determined to look forward to 2017 with hope and positivity. Looking back over this year, however, we’ve also found plenty to enJOY (scroll down to see our photo slideshow)!

In our first year as resident artists at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, we’ve delivered a number of exciting projects in partnership with them; from creative storytelling with older people as part of Dementia Awareness Week in May, to family activities inspired by Beatrix Potter during the summer holidays. We’ve also been working with the House to develop their education programme, delivering interactive drama workshops to both school and university groups. For Heritage Open Days in September, we enjoyed working with members of the local community to develop an exhibition of Living Memories of the House and neighbourhood.

By far our biggest partnership project this year was ‘Gaskell: The Musical!’, working with local women to devise and perform an original musical which premiered as part of Manchester Histories Festival in June. We had tremendous fun working with such a warm and lively group, many of whom had never performed before and really grew in confidence throughout the project. The initial performances were such as smash hit (selling out 3 shows) that we were asked to reprise the run in September, which we were delighted to be able to do. Harnessing the enthusiasm of the talented cast, and with the support of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and One Manchester, we’ve now been able to secure more funding to run a regular creative women’s group which we can’t wait to start in the New Year.

We’ve continued to develop other projects with women and girls throughout 2016. For International Women’s Day, we worked with young women from Wythenshawe and Salford to create a textiles exhibition celebrating women from Manchester’s history. This was displayed at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and there were squeals of delight from some members of the group when they first saw their own handiwork on show in such a beautiful historic venue! Some of the young women who worked on this display had also taken part in our ‘Tales of Manchester Life’ project in 2015 and we were thrilled when this project was recognised with a Community Histories Award in March. The girls loved attending a fancy event at Manchester Town Hall to receive this award and we were even more pleased to officially become a multi-award-winning organisation!

Since the summer, we’ve continued to run drama workshops with young women in Wythenshawe, some of whom are now working towards their Silver Arts Award. This project will culminate in an interactive performance and drama workshop led by the young women for their local junior youth group early next year. We’ve also had a great time delivering drama workshops with young women’s groups for our friends, The Proud Trust, at their LesBiCon and summer camp events.

Over the summer, we were very pleased to be able to return to MASH – a fantastic organisation for women which we first worked with as students back in 2011 – to deliver a series of drama workshops in their weekly drop-in. The women here really enjoyed the opportunity to play creatively with props and costumes and devised all sorts of imaginative scenes, from a botched bank robbery to a zombie apocalypse!

Aside from solely female-focused projects, we’ve continued to work with hard to reach young people across Greater Manchester and Salford, delivering the Bronze Arts Award with groups from Eccles to Monsall. It was lovely to be shortlisted by Manchester Young Lives as their Partner Organisation of the Year and we hope to develop more projects with them in 2017.

We’d like to thank all our partners, funders and friends for their valuable support and enthusiasm this year: Arts Council England, One Manchester, Places for People, John Grant Davies Trust, Comic Relief Local Communities Fund, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, Wythy Tree Youth Bank, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House (projects funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England), Claire Mooney, The Proud Trust, TLM Centre, MASH, Tandem Theatre, Art with Heart, Manchester Young Lives, Direct Access, Manchester Histories, Arc, Greater Manchester Police Museum, Museum of Transport Greater Manchester, Digital Women’s Archive North and Victoria Baths.

We’re very much looking forward to 2017, not least because we’ll then be able to announce our plans for an exciting new young women’s project we have in the pipeline…

But for now, may your days be merry and bright – and we hope your festive season is an enJOYable one!

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Reprising Gaskell: The Musical!

We’ve had a fantastic week teaming up again with enJOY favourite Claire Mooney to reprise ‘Gaskell: The Musical!’ for both private and public audiences at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. The show was devised and performed by a warm and lively group of local women and originally premiered at Manchester Histories Festival back in June. The sell-out success of the initial run led to various requests for a reprise  – which we were delighted to be able to arrange with support from Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, One Manchester and Places for People.

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Production week began on Monday, bringing our wonderful performers back together to brush up on the songs and then pretty much hit the ground running with full technical and dress rehearsals. The enthusiasm and camaraderie of the cast, most of whom had never met each other before the original project, sprang quickly back to life as if they’d never been apart.

Tuesday was another busy day with 2 performances for staff, tenants and friends of One Manchester and Places for People. It was great to have another opportunity to share the piece with even more local people and the feedback from these audiences was incredibly positive:

‘It was lovely to see women that I know excelling at something I didn’t even know they were involved in. LOVED IT!!!’

‘Fantastic – actors did an excellent job – makes me feel empowered as a woman.’

‘A superb introduction to the house, which I never knew was on my doorstep! Just the right mix of prose and music, wonderfully performed.’

On Wednesday, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House had commissioned a private performance as a treat for their hard-working volunteers, most of whom know both the House and Mrs Gaskell very well. It was lovely to be able to give back to this fantastic team whose support around the House has been invaluable throughout the rehearsal process. The cast were particularly pleased to have an enthusiastic endorsement from this audience:

‘Totally outstanding. Very talented women, clearly enjoying performing together. Incredibly professionally put together. Elizabeth Gaskell would be proud!’

‘Well done! Absolutely brilliant, brought the house to life and captured the spirit of Mrs Gaskell and her family.’

‘It got right to the essence of Elizabeth Gaskell… EXACTLY what the house should be doing. A triumph!’

Thursday saw our final show of the week to a public audience, which we were delighted to find had sold out again! This audience was a real mix of people including members of the Gaskell Society, people from the local neighbourhood, students and more. It was wonderful to end the week on a high with even more incredible audience comments:

‘Great idea. Brought me to the house for the first time. Learnt some things and loved the rap!’

‘Brilliant performance. Lovely it’s local people – more please!’

‘A wonderful production. So alive, so filled with energy. Bringing history and world changing needs into music and drama.’

‘Excellent performances. Please do something else ladies – don’t go back to the day job!’

It’s safe to say our talented cast of women have definitely got the performing bug now and we’re busy plotting what our next project with this group might be… so watch this space!

 

 

 

 

Gaskell: The Musical! – back by popular demand!

After a sell-out run during the Manchester Histories Festival 2016, Gaskell: The Musical! returns to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House for one night only…

Women from Ardwick and the surrounding areas have worked together to devise songs and sketches inspired by the life, work and times of Elizabeth Gaskell. Now we want to share them with you in this musical promenade performance!

When:

Thursday 22nd September 6:30pm

Where:

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

84 Plymouth Grove

M13 9LW

How to book:

Click HERE to book tickets via the Elizabeth Gaskell’s House website.

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