We've had a busy old time both behind the scenes and onstage recently. Last week it was an absolute pleasure to work with Turtle Key Arts on their JOY Festival celebrating disability arts, bringing NoMad to their third night at the Lyric Hammersmith Studio. (Those of you who were there for the first or second nights may have spotted our founder Nell in their newly commissioned piece for the festival, Where The Magic Happens, too!)
Now we have the breathing space, we have two big announcements for you - number one...
We have just achieved Arts Council England funding for our first ever co-production!
R.A.T. is joining forces with Islington People's Theatre to deliver a participation project for women in Islington who have experienced, or are at risk of, having their children taken into care. Our participants are being supported by Pause Islington, the local branch of an amazing national charity supporting these extraordinary but devastatingly disempowered women all over the UK.
There are all sorts of reasons for which women can have their children taken from them. Very rarely is it the woman's choice, and even more rarely can it in any way be considered to be the woman's fault. But the trauma, shame and guilt experienced by these women is far too rarely acknowledged, discussed, expressed and considered - let alone the social, financial, health and other practical needs they have to have met if they will ever be able to change their circumstances. And that's where the brilliant people at Pause come in, working with women on a one-to-one basis to look after their needs for what often feels like the first time in these women's lives.
We will be exploring folk tales from around the world that are centred around women, or come from a female perspective, as a way of exploring traditional depictions and understandings of the female experience, and comparing them with our own. We will think of them as tales with a message, and think about what messages we would want to hand down to the next generations - and what characters, storylines, motifs, we might employ in our own storytelling to get those messages across. We will work with a series of guest facilitators with backgrounds in arts and crafts, music, dance, and spoken word, as well as our own applied theatre practice, to identify different modes of storytelling and find the best modes for these wise women to express themselves.
While for the sake of anonymity we won't be able to create a live performance, we will be compiling an e-book of the stories and artworks that come from the sessions, as well as a podcast episode of the women performing any audio material they create through the project - so keep your eyes peeled around October and we'll let you know where you can find their masterpieces.
Wish us all luck!