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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Merry Christmas from enJOY arts!

Tis the season to be jolly & joyous! And so, time for another festive round up of the year from enJOY HQ…

The year began with young people from our projects in Monsall and Wythenshawe making fantastic progress and completing their Arts Awards. In Wythenshawe, those working towards their Silver Arts Award hosted a very successful event for the junior youth group where they presented their own interactive drama piece on the theme of decision-making.

In March, our newly established Herizons Creative Women’s Group (comprised of Gaskell: The Musical! alumni, plus some fab new faces) were honoured to open the Manchester City Council International Women’s Day Event at the Town Hall, with a rousing rendition of ‘Let the Women Rise’. Also in the spring, we began working on our flagship young women’s creative heritage project, Her Hidden Historiesby running training workshops for volunteers at the Museum of Transport and Greater Manchester Police Museum. We worked with young women from Wythenshawe and Gorton to create special performances at each of these venues in June and July, inspired by true stories of the first women to work in both transport and policing. The performances, aptly named In the Driving Seat and Top of the Bill were both very well-received and featured a musical cameo by Herizons in their finales.

The Herizons group were fresh from their own performance of Strong Manchester Women – a series of inspirational songs and sketches regaling the audience with tales of local women, from Peterloo’s Mary Fildes to Moss Side’s Louise Da Cocodia, and performed at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in May.

We’ve continued to work in partnership with Elizabeth Gaskell’s House on education and outreach projects throughout the year and we supported young people from Cedar Mount Academy to create their own short film, going Through the Keyhole and delving into the goings on of the House when the Gaskell family lived here.

In September, Herizons performed at National Trust’s Lyme Hall, as part of the Live at Lyme festival of new performance works at this incredible historic venue. Their piece, Legends of Lyme, explored the untold stories of women from Lyme’s Regency Era -complete with harpsichord accompaniment by the wonderful Claire Mooney! Also in September we had a fantastic event to celebrate the hard work of the young women on our Her Hidden Histories project, bringing both groups together for the first time before they all work together on a big performance at Victoria Baths next year. The evening was full of fun and laughter as the young women watched films of each other’s performances, before posing for selfies together in a way that only teenage girls can.

The rest of the autumn was spent working towards Takeover Days at each of the Her Hidden Histories venues. Our Gorton group did a fantastic job taking over the Greater Manchester Police Museum as creative tour guides in November and the Wythenshawe group will be delivering theirs at the Museum of Transport in January.

 

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Lots of exciting things are afoot for 2018, with planned performances to celebrate the centenary of the first women getting the right to vote, 70 years of the NHS and the friendship of Elizabeth Gaskell & Charlotte Bronte to name a few – watch this space as our plans develop!

In the meantime, we’d like to say a massive thank you to our funders and partners this year, without whom none of our work would be possible: Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Claire Mooney, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, Newall Green High School, Manchester Young Lives, Cedar Mount Academy, the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester Police Museum, Victoria Baths, TLM Centre, Waterside, Creative Industries Trafford, Trust New Art, National Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Granada Foundation, One Manchester, Comic Relief Communities Fund, Places for People and our wonderful advisory board.

Wishing you all a JOYful festive season and we’ll see you in 2018!

 

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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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Gaskell: The Musical! – sell out performances!

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Massive congratulations to the cast of ‘Gaskell: The Musical!’ who performed 3 sell-out shows at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th June!

Over the past 10 weeks, we have been working with women who live locally to the house to devise this innovative new mini-musical – inspired by the life, work and times of the Victorian writer. The group took particular inspiration from the Mrs Gaskell’s social conscience and the diverse range of people whose stories would have echoed throughout the rooms of her house: from famous contemporaries who visited regularly, to the working people in whom Elizabeth took an active interest and whose plight she immortalised in her novels.

In a series of lively creative workshops, we explored all these ideas and more through a mixture of songwriting and drama activities. We were thrilled to partner up again with wonderful singer-songwriter Claire Mooney throughout the process. Many of the group had never performed before and some of them have been working towards an employability qualification as part of this community project. We were delighted to present these special promenade performances as the culmination of the project and part of Manchester Histories Festival 2016.

The camaraderie of the performers and their determination to perform their uplifting finale outside, despite the inclement weather, was truly awe-inspiring. Here are just some of the rave reviews left by audience members in their post-show feedback:

‘A brilliant way to see the house, bring the community together and find out more about local history!’

‘Amazing! Loved everything about it!’

‘Such an eye-opening event.’

‘Very inspiring, very interactive – felt like I wanted to join in!’

‘Brilliant performances from ordinary non-actors – some definite hits in the music too!’

‘Inspirational – more women’s projects please!’

We’re incredibly grateful to all the staff, volunteers and trustees at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House for their support in making this project possible and to Manchester Histories Festival for including the performances in their 2016 programme. We’d also like to thank Arts Council England, One Manchester and Places for People for funding the project.

Photographs courtesy of Sangita Mistry.

Gaskell: The Musical! Upcoming Performances

Just four weeks to go until the curtain lifts on Gaskell: The Musical! – an innovative mini-musical created by women from Ardwick and the surrounding area. Promenade performances will take place at the incredibly atmospheric and inspiring Elizabeth Gaskell’s House as part of Manchester Histories Festival 2016! We can’t wait to share what the women have been creating and the good news is you have not one, not two, but THREE opportunities to see it! Please call or email us for tickets (details on the flyer below) and be speedy as spaces are limited!

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New women’s performance project at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

We can’t believe it’s March already! And, in the week of International Women’s Day, we’re excited to announce our new women’s performance project which will be kicking off with taster sessions next week!

Investing in Voices – Gaskell the Musical is a project where women local to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House can come together and get creative. We’ll be taking inspiration from the house to devise and perform a new musical which will be part of the Manchester Histories Festival in June. Absolutely no experience is necessary and, with a bit of music, drama and a chance to play, there’s sure to be something for everyone!

Just by taking part, women will also have the opportunity to earn a Level 1 BTEC qualification in Employability, which will be great for anyone looking to get back into the world of work or volunteering.

The project begins with two taster sessions on Tuesday 15th March (1-3pm) and Wednesday 16th March (3-5pm). These taster sessions will be in the Community Room at Cornbrook House (please see the flyer for address details) but regular weekly sessions after that will be at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. All women are welcome, there’ll be plenty of tea and biscuits – and we’re sure to have a lot of fun!

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We’re delighted to be working again with wonderful musician Claire Mooney on this project and to have secured support and funding from Arts Council England, One Manchester and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

Please call the number on the flyer if you’d like any more information or watch this space for updates!