Michele's Blog (6)
R and D for 'Sensing Helen' HLF funded project-explore visually-impaired women in Dorset, then and nowWritten by Administrator
I've been working with actor and collaborator Tam Gilbert, Jenny Gordon and Alastair Nesbitt recently. Using Hellen Keller as a starting to explore visually-impaired women in Dorset, then and now! Researching with source material at the incredibleresource that is Dorset History Centre in Dorchester, we've then taken students from Victoria Education College there and this week delivered some of our findings to a group of students who are home educated at the Priesthouse Museum in Wimborne.
Tam has written a grea piece for the disabityarts online blog and you can read about it here:
I took a visit to one of my favourite places today-Poole Museum-as I was invited to the opening of the new exhibition celebrating the women of Poole old and new. I was very please to see one of my longest standing characters Granny Cousins celebrated and her actual bonnet and lantern, donated by her family after she died. I've known this incredible woman for 20 years now and it is my delight to take groups around the nooks and crannies of Old Town Poole telling tales-she never fails to entertain and inspire. Caroline Jane Cousins (nee Bartlett) had such a sad and hard life. She was forced into the workhouse having left her home in Moreton near Wareham, then experiencing domestic violence and her son's accident on the railway that left him disabled.
Equally as inspirational, was to see Minnie Baldock who retired to Hamworthy in Poole after an incredible life in the Suffragette movement. Minnie shared platforms with the Pankhurts and other eminant women and spent time in prison for the cause with all the horrendous practices that were evident in Edwardian Britain penal system. I loved researching and creating a 40 minute piece with writer Kate O'Malley. There was so much personal material to work with and I'll never forget the moment I opened a box at the Museum of London to find her personal letters. Heart rending letters to her son, explaining why she had to go away; to husband Hal telling him to tay strong; and letters received from Upper Class patrons of the Suffrage cause, who wanted her to attend afternoon teas to represent the working classes.
Later I even met with her Granddaughter who could just remember making apple pies with Minnie her and Hal's home on Lake Road, Hamworthy.
Check out my Storytelling page for a short video of the piece 'Right to Vote' made with Poole Museum at http://www.micheleobrien.co.uk/suffragette-minnie-baldock.html and if you're looking for someone to make your centenary event to mark 'some' women getting the vote, get in touch!
Here's to Minnie and Granny Cousins and all those strong, inspirational women associated with Poole.
Working hard to bring the show together.
Feeling a little overwhelmed.
The responses to the monkey survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CTMVB53 are very powerful and allow me to tell our story too. Thank you!
Trying to find honesty and truth in every word.
As the busy-ness of Summer fades among the shadows start to lengthen, it's great to know that the 'Mother and Daughter' project will be working towards its performance stage during the next month and a half. I've enjoyed swimming in the sea a lot in recent weeks with various friends and family and tots learning for themselves how to jump waves and cope with mouthfuls of refreshing salty water!!!!!!!!
My Mum's been able to join us on many of these occasions and she's enjoyed being by the seaside once again in the latest snap of warm weather.
On Monday I take the lovely drive to Bridport for two weeks of devising, exploring and rehearsing with Director Katherina Radeva, using the material we have all created together at the Lyric Theatre (Niki McCretton). It's not often that I get the chance to indulge my great love for the craft of theatre and have time to interact with other theatre practitioners in this way. It's a great 'value added' to the Arts Council grant that I've been allocated-not a luxury I hasten to add, but an important part in creating quality pieces of Art.
With a deadline of 10 October and its first performance at the Shelley Theatre, Boscombe as part of the Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival http://artsbythesea.co.uk/event/mother-and-daughter-im-glad-i-asked-by-associate-artist-michele-obrien/ we will be focused in our creativity, warm ups, technical planning and depictions. And it feels really good (if not a little daunting!) to be in this place, this wonderful space-as we say: "Right here, right now!'
Last night I had the privilege of listening to the first draft of a music piece I have asked my brother Mark O'Brien (professional musician with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) to create. I like the thought of drawing him in to interpret the 'Mother and Daughter' theme with the dear Mum Gina that we share. He had just finished the whirlwind premier at Symphony Hall Birmingham on Friday night with the CBSO's new Director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and then her debut appearance at the BBC Prom No.55 (Royal Albert Hall). If you didn't get to hear this you can find it at: http://bbc.in/2bOqwHS he and his partner seemed very animated when they arrived, exhausted, on Sunday and its always great to talk music,art and family late into the night.
Denise Poote will be concentrating on exhibiting material and photographs as well as Twitter and Facebook updates. It's been a great joy to work so closely with Denise and we seem to compliment each others artistry and skills well. She's a great encouragement and very good hugger.
So, there's a lot to do before hitting the road on Monday and where I'm going to have time to pack I'll never know! There's only the small matter of a newly comissioned piece telling tales of Corfe Castle in Norman Times from the National Trust (Saturday/Sunday 3-4 September), we have horse manure to collect and herbs to harvest, costumes to create and a medieval chorus to crack with Colin Phillimore as my sidekick - an aspirant Jongleur-it'll keep our feet firmly on the ground ad in the muck!
I hope to be able to provide regular updates through this Blog so look out for posts and don't forget to book your tickets for 'Mothers and Daughters'!
I am organising workshops where we will open up discussions between mothers and daughters about their lives reflecting on the past and offer an opportunity to have a photographic portrait taken with visual artist Denise Poote.
These recorded discussions and photos will preserve a moment between generations of women, at this point in the 21st Century. This rich resource will be developed into a performance called "I'm Glad I asked" by Michele O'Brien at Shelley Theatre in October as part of Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival
I would really love to work with diverse groups to represent all the women and their experiences in Poole. We have organised two workshops already which will be held on:
Wednesday 11th May 2016 at Hamworthy Library at 3-4.30
Friday 13th May 2016 at Rossmore Library 11-12.30
Could I ask please for your help by:
- Asking you to promote these to your community contacts and to your colleagues
- Letting me know if you would like to attend a workshop – if you can bring a Daughter 16+ or a Mother to meet us all the better.
- If you are a community group or know of one and would like to host/organise a workshop with me please contact me on 07977969080 or 01202732270.
Thanks in advance for your help.