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Young women writers to debut work in Yorkshire theatre production

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Three new stagings of Pilot Theatre’s Northern Girls project are coming to community venues around the north this October – giving a voice and a platform to underrepresented women. 

The performances will be deeply rooted in where they are from: York, Bridlington and Redcar. They are developed, written and performed by women & girls with direct connections to these places with each short piece representing the joys, frustrations, and complexities of female life.

The shows will all be made up of a series of individual and deeply personal stories exploring big ideas around place, identity and asking what it means to be a woman in the north in 2021. 

The project is unique, Northern Girls is weaving together brilliant storytelling and theatrical experience with local communities to co-create a participatory professional piece of theatre that will tackle inequality and unfairness in the arts head-on.

Photo credit: msc1photography

The show is all about giving young women a voice, opening up doors for working class people to get into theatre and inspiring a new generation of women to unlock their talent and reimagine exactly what is possible. A successful first staging of Northern Girls took place in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, in October 2020.

It returns on October 6th 2021 in York, then takes place in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, before finishing this year’s season of performances in Redcar, Teesside. Each place will host four performances, with the shows also recorded by Pilot Theatre to be streamed at a later date. 

The team from Pilot Theatre are working with some of the north’s most exciting community arts producers and innovative grassroots groups to co-produce Northern Girls. Partners include: Explore York, ARCADE and Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. It also includes stellar professional writers and theatremakers supporting new and established talent from the north, including – 

In York: Hannah Davies, Lydia Marchant, Juliana Mensah and Kat Rose-Martin In Bridlington: Shannon Barker, Ellie Brammar and Nadia Emam. 

In Redcar: Lisette Auton, Olivia Hannah, Holly Gallagher and Carmen Marcus.

Photo credit: msc1photography

Esther Richardson, Pilot Theatre Creative Director, said: “Northern Girls is my dream project and it really has been a dream to conjure it into existence. Being a woman from Redcar and Durham has been a lonely path in theatre. I want this show to change things for young women in 2021. 

“Young women in Yorkshire and North East must have the opportunity to speak about their lives in their own voices, and the subjects that matter to them. We want to foster the opportunities that were missing when we were growing up: the chance to work alongside professional writers and theatre makers for support, solidarity and inspiration. We want to encourage a new generation, because we need more women who are visibly from these areas crafting the narratives and speaking up.” 

Esther added: “It’s not an accident that the project is happening where it is, and is hopeful this incarnation is giving some of us the chance to make work specifically in our home towns and to work with teenage girls specifically at our old schools. In the case of Redcar and Bridlington these are places that still don’t have producing theatres and access to arts and culture is still limited and precious for young people.

Photo credit: msc1photography

“We love where we’re from – it’s who we are – and we’re incredibly proud to be from this part of the world, but we’d like to see activities like theatre increased and considered more ‘every day’ and normal in these places.”

Rach Drew, Co-director of ARCADE, said: “Coming back to my hometown of Bridlington and hearing the stories of the next generation is extremely important to me, as I have often been judged by my northern accent. 

“Making space for the voices of young women will ensure that they believe their opportunities should never be limited because of where they are from, as well as inspiring other women and girls to tell their own stories.” 

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council said: “Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council are delighted to be co-producer on this project with Pilot Theatre that celebrates the voices of women from the North East and will be performed in the heart of our community.” 

Northern Girls is a co-production with Explore York, ARCADE and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and is supported by Arts Council England, Creative Europe and the National Lottery Community Fund. 

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