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!

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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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Behind the Scenes of Gaskell: The Musical!

Check out this lovely ‘behind the scenes’ film of Gaskell: The Musical, put together for us by the wonderful Maria Ruban:

We had such a great time working on this project and we’re now busy working out how we might be able to reprise the performance in the future – watch this space!

 

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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Our award winning young women’s heritage project!

We’re absolutely delighted to announce that Tales of Manchester Life, the young women’s creative heritage project we delivered last year, won a Manchester Community Histories Award on Friday!

It was fantastic to bring the young women who took part to a great event at the Town Hall, organised by Manchester Histories. Here, we got to find out about all sorts of wonderful projects and the incredible people who run them, including Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, PANDA, RECLAIM and WOWzone.  Jorge, Tammin & Tyra from our project spoke confidently in front of a large audience and all the young women were thrilled to be presented their award by the lovely former Coronation Street actor Julie Hesmondhalgh!

We are so proud of all the young women involved and very grateful to Manchester Histories for this honour. We’d also like to thank our project partners, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, Tandem Theatre, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and Salford Youth Service and the project’s funders, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Community First.

We’re looking forward to developing more creative heritage projects with these young women and others in future – watch this space!