Back in April, as a response to the cancellation of our Spring/Summer 2020 season and the closure of our theatre, I began to re/discover my voice when I started writing a series of blogs to help to continue the New Adelphi Theatre’s cultural exchange digitally during lockdown. By sharing creative activities, live streams, resources and opportunities on offer from the University, our friends, associate artists and colleagues, we began a new dialogue together.
Anyone who knows me or has heard my voice amplified over the Front of House announcement system at a live event will know I have a voice (a proud Salfordian one), but this new voice has a more reflective quality.
It’s a written voice, a digital voice, a voice that will be forever embedded in the world wide web (which is scary). A voice that has found time to express itself. A voice of solidarity. A voice which goes out of sync with its mouth, a tentative voice which has been trying to get its mouth around new feelings, new terminologies, a new virtual landscape. The voice of a blogger who has never blogged before. A proud voice. A voice with grammatical errors, echoes, lagging an’ all. (thank you to Hannah, my grammar hero)
There’s a chorus of voices that shout to celebrate our shared humanity and histories, to challenge injustices. And there are voices which know when to quieten to help amplify and support unheard voices.
Our ears are open and are helping our collective voices to harmonise
So, as I move into the second part of this blog series, I want to platform these voices, these storytellers; celebrate our identities, cultures and communities. Let’s sing from the virtual roof top about how proud we are of our student achievements and the strength of their voices and actions during this difficult time.
I’d also like to introduce a new segment to our blog “Thought of the Fortnight” (thanks for the idea Niki). This week’s thought offering:
Last week, as we drew to the end of a challenging yet fun video meeting in which Hannah, Georgia and I were discussing logistics for an upcoming event, I had a thought – which I said out loud:
This week, I’ve realised: although we are not fighting on the front line, we are utilising our creative platforms, telling important stories, teaching the next generation of theatre makers, musicians, comedians, actors, choreographers, writers, filmmakers, artists directors to use their voices in a meaningful way.
What we’ve seen, and what I’ve been sharing in blogs #1 through to #5, is that the creative industries have moved us and lifted our spirits with stories and activities during lockdown. And now, what we see is that art is inspiring us, more than ever, to take action.
The response from the university, our student community and our friends in the industry has been powerful and moving; we are encouraging our team, students and associates to actively explore the resources that have been made available and to support local and national organisations to ensure black lives are protected and celebrated.
We are fully committed to supporting our students, staff, artists and audiences in a meaningful way and will continue to work towards creating a more diverse and inclusive programme that reflects and amplifies the voices of our entire community. We have a responsibility to demonstrate further our commitment to inclusivity on our stages. We know we can do better. The University of Salford’s DM’s are open; we are listening and taking action.
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On the @salforduni social media accounts, we have a large platform, and we use this platform to share messages with our students, our future students, and represent the University – meaning you – to the world. . With this comes an important responsibility to share the achievements, aspirations, and opinions of our entire community. Yesterday, we received a message in response to our #BlackoutTuesday post letting us know that our Black and POC students feel unheard. . That's not right. . If you don't feel heard, then we're not saying what you're saying. We're failing in that core responsibility to reflect and promote who you are as students of the University of Salford on social media. . And we want to change that. . As a start, we'll continue to mute our usual content on @salforduni Instagram for the rest of week, and instead create space to allow us to listen to, learn from, and share Black and POC voices without interruption. If there's something you'd like us to hear, you'll find our question sticker in our Stories. We realise this might not give you the space you need to speak fully, so feel free to respond multiple times, comment, or send us a DM. With your permission, we'll start sharing your responses on our account after the Story expires tomorrow. . In the meantime, we're aware that the current news cycle may be taking a heavy emotional toll on you. We've saved links to sources of support at the University in our highlights. The Students' Union @salfordsu have also collated useful resources on protesting safely, with recommendations on further ways to help. The Students' Union are an independent organisation led by democratically elected officers, and they're here to represent your interests and advocate on behalf of you to the University, so make sure you get involved with them to enact change where you want to see it. . Thank you.
Some local organisations, creative and educational resource recommendations.
This Saturday (20 June) alumnus James Monaghan and a band of our young people – students, citizens, vagabonds, dreamers – set out on a marathon of a task: to imagine the multiple possible ways in which the rest of their lives, and the future of the world, might pan out.
Part performance, part group imagination, part lockdown insanity – a live streamed, durational act of faith – the invitation is to join them; to watch, to interact and to spend the night together as they embrace the unknown.
I caught up with our Artistic Director Niki Woods and cast member Zoe King who is a graduating Theatre and Performance Practice student and usher at the New Adelphi Theatre. Click here to read what they told our comms team about the project.
I am thrilled that the New Adelphi Theatre are working with HOME to support alumni and our students during this time of uncertainty. I am also over the moon that I am able to be an audience member this weekend. To celebrate Summer Solstice my ‘bubble friend’ and I will be pitching a tent in the back garden so we can ‘Spend the Night Together’ (socially distanced) with James and our students, under the stars (and most probably in the rain). Join us and if you’re documenting your journey into the future, tag us in!
This weekend marks the Summer Solstice and our #Homemakers Live day. Let's Spend The Night Together by James Monaghan is a durational Zoom live event to mark the longest day of the year https://t.co/1kyWNvqlo2 pic.twitter.com/SEwo163Xwc
— HOME from home (@HOME_mcr) June 15, 2020
It’s really important to our team that we find ways to support the growth of our artists whilst our building is closed.
Under Construction, a scratch night showcase of works in progress, created and performed by students should have taken place in our studio theatre back in March.
The team of students behind this artist development safe space have worked hard to adapt and digitise their presentation of work. We’re so proud that our students continue to creatively strive and thrive in innovative ways.
I spoke to Theatre and Performance Practice student Will Main, who is about to embark on his final year here at the School of Arts and Media.
The scratch night is an internal event by invitation only. Please express interest by private messaging the organisers.
Our friends at Salford Pride invite you to The Pink Picnic: Digital. We may not be able to celebrate our LGBTQ+ community, commemorate the Stonewall Riots or mark the 50th anniversary of the annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions in the beautiful Peel Park this Pride Month 2020, but that’s certainly not going to stop us coming together as a community – on Facebook.
The team have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring you a digital celebration of the ideals at the heart of The Pink Picnic: community spirit, love, acceptance and pride for everyone.
The event will be headlined by Divina De Campo, Ronan Parke, Rowetta and Charlotte Awbery and hosted by Venus Quasar and Annabelle Lecter.
There will also be a Digital Drag Show: Showcasing Local and International Drag talent! With performances by Alfie Ordinary (who performed at the New Adelphi Theatre back in February), Cheddar Gorgeous, Saki Yew, Julie Noted, Anna Phylactic, HP Loveshaft, Ellie Ganza, Alexa Spread, Whiplash, Scarly B, Venus and Amanda T Swallows.
Plus ‘Salford’s Got Pride’: the online talent competition where the winner receives the chance to perform live at The Pink Picnic 2021! (Keep an eye out for some of our students!)
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Next week marks #lonelinessawarenessweek. We believe that no one should have to face the coronavirus crisis and its devastating impact on our community alone. Join us, @divinadecampo and our digital #pride event on Saturday 20th June. More info at salfordpride.org.uk/digital
#WeShallNotBeRemoved is a UK disability arts alliance formed as an emergency response to the pandemic. Yesterday we saw a day of action on social media by Disabled Artists and their allies. You can find out more here.
Disability Arts International, who promote accessibility for disabled artists and audiences, have collated a list of professional Deaf and disabled artists, or disabled-led companies, check them out.
Some of my top picks of artists who make and perform work locally:
DANC/Triple C, SICK! Festival, Lisa Simpson Inclusive Dance, Poorly Drawn, Conor A, Jackie Hagan and our associates DIY Theatre Company. Based a little further afield, but regularly tour are Jess Thom (Tourettes Hero), who many of us Salford Uni lot saw at the Lowry last year and Birds of Paradise. I saw their performance of ‘Purposeless Movements’ at Edinburgh Fringe in 2019 and it is one of the most incredible pieces of dance theatre I have ever seen; from the performances to the storytelling devices, to how they integrated audio description, BSL and animated surtitles.
One of the actors (and acclaimed comedian), Laurence Clark is Mancunian – I have to admit, I “whooped” when he introduced himself. (Yes I’m *that* person who has to voice support for other North West-eners when we’re away from home – only when it’s encouraged of course!)
Our academic staff and performance coordination team have been planning a celebratory and informative online event for our students, which will give them the opportunity to engage with some of our most prestigious Performance, English and Creative Writing alumni. Former students, such as Ali Wilson, Claire Quigley, Alex Adamson, Louise Harney, James Monaghan, Charlotte Manifold, John Tomlinson, Stephen Lawson and Haiesha Mistry have all gone on to have successful careers in the Creative Industries.
Students, all of the details have been emailed to you – don’t miss this learning and networking opportunity!
Following the online presentation and Q&A, our final year Digital Showcase will be launched, to share and celebrate some of the work produced by our Graduates 2020. So watch this space – I’ll be posting on our social media! WOO
Something that I think is also really special about creative alumni events is that the team who organise them (our theatre team, our engagement teams, our academic staff) – so many of us are also alumni. We have a fantastic and supportive network here at Salford for our alums – so follow, join and stay in touch!
We are living through strange, upsetting and difficult times and so I’ll leave you this week with a final word from Sam Ingleson, our Associate Dean; Engagement & Enterprise – and a photo of a chicken, to bring you a smile.
“I hope everyone is managing to find ways to adjust. I have spent a considerable amount of time, when not working, gardening and trying to keep my chickens off my plants. At one point I was reduced to sitting in wait with a hosepipe, ready to spray them when they approached any newly planted shoots. I knocked down their old shed and presented them with a lovely new chicken coop that the cockerel Henry refuses to recognise as home. Every night now at 10pm, I have to creep into my neighbour’s garden and collect him from under a bush and carry him home to bed.
At the start of lockdown, I was faced with the reality that so many of the student events we organise would not be able to go ahead: end of year shows, subject area celebration events and the annual Create Student Awards evening. In the week prior to lockdown I was part of the judging panel alongside our Chancellor and Scottish Maker Jackie Kay, Arts and Media Officer at the Students’ Union Megan Hayward and senior staff from the school. Out of the 140 nominations from staff and students we shortlisted 24 students across 8 awards. Thankfully we are now in a position to be able to move some of these celebrations online. This includes the Create Student Awards Evening which will take place on Thursday 2nd July 7:30pm, with video contributions from all the nominated students. Our industry friends will still announce the winners through the magic of Microsoft Teams. I hope you can join us.
The award ceremonies and end of year shows will be hosted on a new microsite WOO: Windows of Opportunity. This offers our students the opportunity to woo the Creative Industries, and the wider public, with their creativity and agility in the face of a world that is changing beyond recognition. We want to support their professional development and to build lasting networks that will support and sustain them in the future.
Because so much time is taken up in online meetings and planning of online content, I have not engaged with much of the online cultural offerings in the evenings. Instead I have been going on long walks, listening to podcasts. I loved the Gimlet show ‘The Horror of Delores Roach’, a 21st century Sweeny Todd inspired drama – ridiculously gruesome and entertaining. I have also just finished the ‘All Killa No Filla’ mammoth six-part episode on the Yorkshire Ripper. Kiri Pritchard-Mclean and Rachel Fairburn are delightful company during lockdown.”
Until the next blog, take care of yourself and each other.
Scroll down to read blogs #1 to #5.
Read the latest news from the University of Salford on the news channel.
Keep up-to-date with the University COVID-19 response: Students | Staff | Applicants | International Applicants | Public