FEATURE: Herstory | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Image: L-R, Ellen Moran, Sky Hawkins, Degna Stone

Activism, community and empowerment are the themes encapsulated by Herstory, an event taking place at Newcastle City Library on Wednesday 23rd March hosted by Poet In The City, an organisation which encourages people and places to tell their stories and creates access to challenging ideas.

As part of an open call, six poets have been commissioned to create new work themed around ‘care with courage’. Herstory brings poets, activists and audiences together to explore the historic and contemporary fight for acceptance and equality through bold new performance, intimate installations and thought-provoking verse.

The Newcastle-based poets commissioned for the event are Ellen Moran, Sky Hawkins and Degna Stone. Degna speaks more about their involvement: Newcastle Herstory will bring people together as an act of protest and celebration, marking a commitment to the continuation of the work that generations of women had undertaken in the pursuit of equality and safety before us. The performed poems firmly celebrate women; my poems celebrate women like Sophia Duleep Singh and Olive Morris who improved the lives of others through fearless action.”

Newcastle Herstory will bring people together as an act of protest and celebration

Audiences are also invited to enjoy an immersive audio play about the Newcastle Witch Trials in 1650 from Hellcat Theatre Company; a movement workshop with What’s That Dance seeks to empower women in response to a screening of their film Dare You: Question The Love Between Girls; and theatre maker, performer and artist Lindsay Nicholson encourages audiences to embrace their inner pirate and smash the patriarchy while learning about famous female pirate, dissident and rebel Anne Bonny. “I wanted to reframe the feminist narrative; start with one where women are unapologetically visible, knowingly respected and admired as care takers. But to start that we have to disrupt and create some ‘good’ trouble, we may have to explore our own forms of dissidence and rebellion.” Lindsay explains.

Poet Ellen Moran’s work focuses on themes of protest and acts of everyday resistance which can contribute to change. She worked with Tyneside Women’s Health in Byker to fuel conversations around the intersection of feminist and working-class protest. “We talked about what we perceived as ‘the rules for women’ and then our experiences breaking those rules. We made collage posters to encapsulate our own protests, as well as to try and persuade other women to take a stand in whatever way they were comfortable with.”

A particular highlight of the programme will be JazzWitch, a risqué live performance from poet and activist Radikal Queen which incorporates song and spoken word on the subject of Taboo and what it means to Black, marginalised genders and queer folk. “The evening will be full of the celebration of sensuality, and how individuals and communities can centre and protect their own sexual expression, especially when that freedom is under siege.” Radikal Queen explains. “[JazzWitch] emphasises the individual’s right to freely celebrate what has been ‘othered’, especially for those with identities that are under  assault across various fronts. I specifically chose jazz and blues as the context, because these genres have been historically vilified, ostracised…and then colonised. I want to speak on my behalf, on behalf of those who can relate to me, and on behalf of the Black Ancestors who originated and established music that STILL crosses social, cultural and  spiritual boundaries.”

Herstory takes place at Newcastle City Library on Wednesday 23rd March.

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout