The Womxn Up? Project is Workie Ticket Theatre’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic which will highlight North East women’s stories through a podcast series and a short film.
Workie Ticket will also be exploring what it means to "woman up" discussing ideas around the image of the strong resilient North East Woman and how we survived and kept the world turning during a global pandemic. Our aim is to draw in the voices and experiences of women from different backgrounds and cultures who live in our region to share how we coped (or not!) in order to survive the pandemic. We are going to do this by delivering workshops, asking women to fill out our survey and interviewing women who have a story they want to share with us. In 2020, the United Nations reported that while everyone faced unprecedented challenges, the social and economic impacts of the pandemic fell harder on women than men. Also globally, a countless number of women in economies of every size were: losing income and jobs, having to carry-out unpaid care, had increased domestic work, were more likely to be responsible for home schooling, were more likely to experience domestic violence and were being denied access to sexual and reproductive health as well as maternity care and support. As a result, there’s been an increase in poverty and violence against women and girls in the home, at work and online. Within this project, we will be exploring these themes and the impact on home life, work, mental health, our bodies and community.
The Womxn Up? podcast will include interviews and soundbites from local women alongside a collection of short audio plays; performed, written and directed by North East creatives. We have been awarded funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and it is essential to us that we have this work accessioned into museum collections/archives and lead the narrative on our HERitage and how we want the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic remembered. We are also making a film funded by Comic Relief Ground Work Changing Lives which will be screened as part of an event for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence in a bid to define what is needed to support women's inequalities in the North East and help shape policies and future decisions. It is up to us how we want this time and our contribution remembered to be passed on for generations to come. It is part of our heritage to shape. And for us to tell the stories we want to be heard. We invite you to fill out this survey as part of our project with your honest answers. Feel free to skip any questions you do not wish to answer but share with us your thoughts, feelings and experiences so we can better shape our understanding of what happened to us all during the pandemic.
*Final note from Workie Ticket - Why 'womxn' with an X? In the title of the project, we have used the alternative spelling 'womxn'. This is one of several different spellings of the term 'woman/women' to have emerged since 1970's and more recently, within intersectional feminism. Why the spelling of womxn? We embraced ‘womxn’ understanding that its intention was to be inclusive. For us, we felt it's use might support a move away from potentially exclusive language, centred only on white, cis-women experiences. The term can be used to signal inclusion of cisgender and transgender women and has a growing significance within Black feminism. However, the development of inclusive language is continually evolving and whilst we have chosen to use 'womxn' in the title for this project, we recognise that for some people the term may be problematic. We will always strive to use updated language that includes, supports and amplifies all our communities. If you want to read more on the subject, this is an interesting article discussing both viewpoints.
"Bike, Dyke or Frigid?"
A bold new piece of theatre exploring the untold stories of female veterans
directed by Rosa Stourac McCreery.
Women Warriors has been devised by engaging female veterans through forum theatre and discussion-based workshops. Our aim is to contribute to their empowerment whilst creating a dialogue about how to support veteran rehabilitation through creative methods. In her ground-breaking work on gender and the military, Cynthia Enloe asked in 1989; “Where are the women?” ‘Women Warriors’ responds by centering the lived experiences of female veterans, women who are often socially isolated, overlooked and suffering from lack of support. Our project aims is to raise awareness of the challenges female veterans face in society such as prejudice, discrimination, abuse and PTSD but also celebrate female veterans. Within a safe space, we have facilitated issue-based and forum theatre workshops to develop a series of short plays with five writers. We presented a rehearsed reading of our piece in July as part of our R&D in the build up to producing the first full production of ‘Women Warriors’ at The Exchange Arts Venue, North Shields on 9th October 2019.
HEAR HER ROAR
Our current project HEAR HER ROAR aims to create brave and bold new-writing plays that capture women’s untold stories. All produced, written and directed by women. We also deliver issue-based workshops, in the community to highlight the themes of the plays to give voices to marginalised groups such as domestic violence survivors.
Background to Hear Her Roar
The HEAR HER ROAR project highlights Tyneside women’s real stories and raises awareness of women’s issues such as domestic violence, working mothers, abortion, sexual assault and sexuality. HEAR HER ROAR was our first major project, which celebrated the talents of North East women, collaborated with community groups and charities such as Newcastle Women’s Aid and promoted equality within the theatre industry.
HEAR HER ROAR was successfully launched above the Bridge Hotel Pub in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, on 10th November 2017 as a night of script-in-hand performance of new short plays to give a flavour of our work and to highlight the specific themes. We sold out. We developed a network of creatives and we were featured in The Guardian’s Readers’ Favourite theatre of 2017; “Hear Her Roar had passion, heartache, love and solidarity.”
In January 2018, we received funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Catherine Cookson Trust, respectfully to deliver our February to September educational programme which included a full-scale theatre performance of our plays for International Women’s Day at The Exchange in North Shields, on 10th March 2018 and was part of celebrating 100 years of Women’s suffrage. Rebecca Gregson in NARC magazine wrote: “It’s clear that Hear Her Roar is an important and unquestionable success.”
We also collaborated with the Red Box Project to collect sanitary products for local schools and collected for Newcastle Women’s Aid. In total, we have raised over £1300 for Newcastle Women’s Aid.
Workshops for Hear Her Roar
As part of the HEAR HER ROAR project, Workie Ticket are continuing to deliver issue-based workshops in the local community to at-risk groups, which are linked to our plays, in a bid to educate and raise awareness.
Our workshops are two-hour sessions and consist of interactive drama, writing and discussion-based activities to engage groups with the themes of the plays. For example, we have developed a Body Image workshop called “Love Yourself” which was firstly, delivered to a group of women who are survivors of domestic abuse at Newcastle Women’s Aid. Feedback included: “It made me feel empowered", “Being together with other women, made me feel included and safe”, and “I felt like someone was finally listening to me.”
We are also working delivering sessions to Women’s charity, Bright Futures and Launchpad Charity for Mental Health Awareness week.