Opera Film

Cohere Arts are delighted to have been awarded funding from Arts Council England to make a film of HerStory, an opera celebrating the artistic talent of the Parkinson’s community.  The piece is inspired by the extraordinary exploits of historical Suffolk heroine, Margaret Catchpole.  Margaret achieved notoriety when she stole a horse and rode it from Ipswich to London. She was imprisoned but later escaped, recaptured and eventually sentenced to transportation to Australia in 1801.

Working with partners Britten Pears Arts, English National Opera, Trinity Laban and MuMo Creative, throughout autumn 2022 we will be running a series of singing, dance and art workshops in Suffolk, London, Sussex, Oxford and online. Led by specialist Parkinson’s practitioners, workshops will enable participants to learn repertoire from HerStory, and/or create visual art for animation. We will bring our film-making team to visit each region to film and record sections of the opera.

Our aim is to produce a 30-minute film that will be launched on World Parkinson’s Day, 11th April 2023, in the words of our original 2019 cast; ‘showing the world what people with Parkinson’s can do.’

To take part in our regional workshops, rehearsals and filming sessions, email:

London – nicolawydendbach@yahoo.co.uk

Oxford – hello@mumocreative.com

Suffolk – community@brittenpearsarts.org

Sussex – debraskeen@gmail.com

If you are not able to attend in-person workshops and/or filming sessions, you can contribute to the film by taking part in our Zoom workshops:

Create visual art that will be animated for the film with artist & printmaker Matthew Moseley:
Thu 3rd Nov 3.00 – 4.00pm Thu 10th Nov 3.00 – 4.00pm Thu 17th Nov 3.00 – 4.00pm

Learn and record songs from the opera with Nicola Wydenbach:

Thursday 24th Nov 3-4pm Thursday 1st Dec 3-4pm

All workshops, rehearsals and filming sessions are completely free to attend, and companions are mostly warmly welcome. We can also help out with transport costs.
To sign up, or for more information, email us: coherearts@gmail.com


In 2019 artists Amy Mallett, Nicola Wydenbach, Danielle Teale and Sarah Lewis, formed a collaboration with the aim of developing a participatory performing arts project that would:

  • Extend the artistic experience of people living with Parkinson’s by developing accessible and inclusive performance opportunities
  • Celebrate the artistry and quality of art created by and for people living with Parkinson’s
  • Raise the profile of the positive impact of arts participation for people living with Parkinson’s

The result was:

HerStory: The Catchpole Chronicles – a new opera for performers living with Parkinson’s

I can honestly say that I was exhausted but exhilarated to the point of wishing that it hadn’t come to an end because I felt so alive.


Throughout 2019 we worked with 20 members of the Parkinson’s community in Suffolk and London to co-create a new operatic work; HerStory: The Catchpole Chronicles.  HerStory combines dance, music, film and animation, celebrating the exploits of historical Suffolk heroine, Margaret Catchpole.  The piece was showcased in a workshop performance with a small cast at the Peter Pears Recital Room at Snape Maltings in August 2019, and as a result the company was invited to further develop the work with an expanded cast for a public sharing at London’s Royal Opera House in 2020.

“It’s given me confidence and reduced isolation. It’s given me new friendships.  It’s given me something to look forward to. It’s given me happiness and a sense of something achieved. It’s made me feel a little bit special in the fact that we all have something to give creatively.”


“We all saw the potential to increase self-awareness and confidence which will, inevitably, improve our well-being. It’s very rewarding being part of a creative group that, together can pull something like this off especially under the direction of such talented guidance.”


HerStory: The Covid Chronicles

In 2020 we were offered a community residency to perform our new opera at the Royal Opera House but alas these plans were scuppered by the COVID-19 pandemic. We decided to get together virtually to create a short film featuring creative work on some of the themes of the opera: capture, letters and water.  In a series of three online workshops, participants from the Parkinson’s community in Suffolk and London explored songs, dance, visual, written and spoken word to produce creative material for the film. Film editor John Fensom wove these elements together to create a film artwork.

HerStory: Ev’ry Stitch in the Quilt

in Feb – April 2021 we led another online creative project inspired by themes from the opera. In one scene, a character sings about the passing of the seasons as she weaves fabric squares together into a quilt.  This project engaged participants from all over the UK in the creation of a ‘digital quilt’; an online exhibition containing visual, audio, spoken and written word artworks. 

The project was delivered through 9 online workshops and also through email art challenges that could be completed in the artists’ own time.

The exhibition went live on World Parkinson’s Day 2021, and the project was featured in a live stream produced by Parkinson’s UK that was broadcast globally. We also gathered together online to celebrate the project in a Zoom party. Participant views were captured in a short film.

HerStory: Turning the Tide

Last autumn we were delighted to be awarded funding from The National Community Lottery Fund to support another online creative project; Herstory: Turning the Tide.

​Building on the success of our last workshop series, we invited people living with Parkinson’s from across the UK to join us for a series of 5 online creative workshops in October and November 2021.​ Participants created artwork, written material, movement, sound and music based on the themes of transportation, transition and journeys. These were combined to produce a short film artwork (below).

Sharing the story of HerStory:

The Story of HerStory – Everyday Creativity: Towards an International Research Network, University of Brighton June 2022

Making Music Theatre, Making Communities – Watershed Festival – Reimagining Music Theatre, Queens University, Kingston Ontario Canada May 2022

Perspectives on Practice: online adventures in dancing with Parkinson’s – a People Dancing Perspectives on Practice online event Nov 2021

British artistic collective begins its latest online creative project for people with Parkinson’s – EPDA article Sept 2021

ICCM online seminar March 2021

The Covid Chronicles: connecting performers with Parkinson’s disease – Parkinson’s life article Dec 2020

‘Performing arts help shake off the burden of Parkinson’s’ – Parkinson’s Life article Sept 2019

HerStory projects are supported by: