by Esther Richardson, Artistic Director
Northern Girls builds on our successful 2020 project in Scarborough, where we worked with professional and debut writers to redress the lack of monologues by women, for young women and those who identify as female, from specifically Yorkshire and the North East.
Something to note is that this project may not have happened at all, or as quickly, if it weren’t for the Covid 19 pandemic. This has given Pilot an opportunity to work again more locally, and to explore the difference that a touring theatre company like ours can make when given the opportunity to spend an extended period of unplanned time in our home region. And, following on from the Scarborough version of the project, Northern Girls has afforded some of the key artists involved – myself, Rachel Drew (ARCADE's Co-Director) and Hannah Davies – to bring our attention to nurturing younger women’s voices in specifically the towns that we grew up in (Redcar, Bridlington and York respectively).
When I was a secondary school age girl in Redcar who barely knew of the existence of theatre, it would have blown my mind to have been able to experience an opportunity like this one. This is something that has been at the forefront of my mind throughout this whole project, and I know it’s also true for all the artists who have invested so much in supporting and contributing to Northern Girls for very similar reasons. Thanks to the support of Arts Council England, by the end of October, we will have presented 32 new pieces of work as part of this project. Half of these are by debut writers (including some who are still at school), and all explore what it means to be a young woman or a girl in this region in 2021. The presentation of work is bespoke to each place, and therefore we also plan to make three webcasts of these events to be able to share the work more widely for those who are still shielding or who for any other reason can’t be with us in person.
Projects like this of course are simply impossible without incredible partnerships and advocates, and working with ARCADE, York Explore and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council as well as Tees Valley Arts, Bridlington Spa and fantastic schools like Archbishops Holgate and Sacred Heart (to name a few) will be vital to this new staging of Northern Girls. We’re also grateful that through XR Stories we are able to make a sister project involving some of the same artists who have shared work as part of Northern Girls, called Monoliths.
To hear more about why work like this is important and why we want to see more women and girls from areas like this in our sector and the media and politics have watch of our panel discussion, Tenacious Women, from earlier this year.
We hope you can make it along to either this year’s live Northern Girls events or the webcasts of this fantastic and fresh work. We’re so proud of everyone who has been part of the journey so far, and immensely proud to be a northern female-led theatre company.
Find out more about the project visit the Northern Girls production page.