Follow this link to find out about our latest Women’s Voices Project creative research ‘Shame/Honour’ which is running this summer, using dance and the visual arts to create a performance unpicking attitudes and behaviors in relationships towards women’s bodies and sexuality.
The Women’s Voices Project – was born out of the One Billion Rising events in Durham which took place in February 2013 & 2014 to challenge the prevalence of violence against women. In 2014 we produced – Playing House – written and directed by Katie Tranter co directed by Alys North and performed by Alys North, Hannah Thompson and Patricia Suarez. It was a brave and challenging interactive performance based on testimonials collected from local women – The performance was created and performed ensemble cast of community and professional performers. During 2015/2016 The Women’s Voices Project produced a new play – Make Do and Mend – that tells the stories of three real women survivors of Domestic Abuse played by professional actors through the raw medium of verbatim theatre. Written and directed by Rachel Adamson of Bigfoot, with choreographic support from our Creative Director and choreographer Alys North.
Audiences described our play Make do and Mend as a:
“Visual and clever representation, an innovative way to communicate and resonate with people.”
After successfully previewing the performance at Space Six in Newcastle, Ferryhill Business Enterprise College and in the European Parliament in Brussels in 2015 – We were delighted to secure additional funding from Arts Council England, Big Lottery Awards for All programme and County Durham Community Foundation and with mentoring support from Ed Cole of more established northern theatre company, Middle Child we fine-tuned and toured the performance across the North East in October 2016.
We reached audiences 600 + in a number of venues including Bishop Auckland and Stanley Town Hall, The Witham in Barnard castle and a two night sell out in Alphabetti Theatre in Newcastle.
We also successfully trialed the performance – together with a drama-based workshop – as an education and training tool for health professionals and housing officers, working with closely with Gentoo in Sunderland.
The 2 hour session offered an insight into Domestic Abuse, including:
The breadth and reality of what it is, in line with the newly introduced law on Coercive Control;
The damaging way in which it impacts victims;
The kind of responses to victims that are more/less helpful;
The way in which art and craft-based therapy groups can support victims’ recovery processes.
Read about our Gentoo partnership here.
The women whose stories form the basis of our play all told of their realisation – at the point they felt able to leave their respective abusive relationships – that many of their friends, family, colleagues, and neighbours knew, or at the very least suspected something was wrong but had never said anything. Gone are the days when Domestic Abuse was dismissed as a private matter. But this is still not always reflected in our collective action (or lack thereof). Domestic Abuse does not take place within a vacuum. Society at large, and the local communities in which we live have the power to implicitly condone or condemn Domestic Abuse. 87% of our preview audience answered ‘Yes’ when asked if they would be more likely to offer help to somebody they knew was experiencing Domestic Abuse as a result of watching our play.