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
“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.“Participant
Throughout 2019 we worked with 20 members of the Parkinson’s community in Suffolk 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.”Participant
“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.”Participant
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
This 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:
HerStory projects are supported by: