Taking The Stage

This inspirational event is brought to you by ‘The Play’s The Thing Theatre Company and funded by the Milton Keynes Community Foundation and Arts Council, England. Over the three days audience members can see a brand new play by Julia Pascal (playwright and the first female director at The National Theatre); join the discussion with local and national female industry professionals in a series of focussed panel sessions; witness ‘scratch’ pieces from emerging female talent, plus a newly devised piece of theatre by young people from Milton Keynes alongside Haste Theatre Company. There will also be a keynote, comic sketches and a response to Paula Rego.

Celebrating and showcasing inspirational women within the ‘Taking the Stage - Women in performing Arts’ is an exciting festival staged at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes from 12-14 September, that celebrates and recognises inspirational local and national female professionals from the performing arts industry - including Julia Pascal, Maureen Beattie, Sue Parrish, Jenny Sealey. The event, curated by Rosemary Hill, Artistic Director of Milton Keynes based professional theatre company ‘The Play’s The Thing’; will run alongside the powerful Paula Rego exhibition and host a range of exciting female lead performances, including a brand-new play entitled ‘Three Sisters’ written by Julia Pascal - the first female director at the National Theatre. The three-day event will showcase new work by talented emerging female playwrights such as Bruntwood Prize Judges Award winner, Chloe Todd Fordham; Wallis Hamilton Felton and ‘EastEnders’ and ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ star, Shobu Kapoor. It will also explore the significant roles women play within the arts and provide insight into this fascinating industry through a series of panels discussions, which includes: actor and co-founder of ERA 50/50, Polly Kemp; Sue Parrish - Artistic Director and Producer at Sphinx Theatre; and sound artist and composer, Caroline Devine. Her work includes City of Things, which was part of The Lie of the Land exhibition at MK Gallery. Audience members will also get the opportunity to see a newly devised piece of theatre by young people from Milton Keynes alongside  Haste Theatre Company.

Rosemary Hill ( Artistic Director) says: “The aim of our symposium is to not only showcase these talented women, but also to inspire, educate and empower the younger generation with a passion for the performing arts. “We’ve put together this strong programme to hear from inspirational women in theatre and witness great work from up and coming females, all of whom are changing our industry for the better. It also gives us the opportunity to show our commitment to continually push the boundaries for women in the arts for a more equal balance; and to kick start a fair future for the next generation. This platform enables those with a passion for the industry to be inspired by the work of the new and more experienced playwrights and directors; while getting a real insight into the industry via the important panel discussions. This is our chance to celebrate all the great women in theatre, who inspire, mentor, show strength, creativity and passion in their role within our great industry.

Introduction – Poppy Corbett Poppy

Corbett is a playwright, theatre director, and teacher of creative writing based in London. Her written plays include APPLAUSE (Arts Educational), IT’S MY PARTY (SixteenFeet First Draft award), and HATCHLING (2013 winner of Pitch Your Play). She was one of the original members of Agent 160, a female writer-led theatre company that launched in Cardiff, London and Glasgow and Belfast in 2012, aiming to increase the amount of work written by woman across the nations of the UK. She is on the Theatre Committee of the Writers’ Guild.

Keynote - Carly Halse

Carly trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and has a passion for devised theatre and new writing. She has also worked extensively in the performance art world, most recently with Ragnar Kjartansson in his awardwinning exhibition at the Barbican. Carly is additionally a voiceover artist, drama facilitator and director. Theatre credits include: The Wind in the Willows (Brilliant Theatre Arts); Austerity (The Play’s The Thing); Presto and Clown (Sparky Buddy); One Act Play Festival (The Play’s The Thing); Bare Essentials (Encompass Productions); Nora in A Doll’s House (Pepper’s Ghost); Little Red in Into the Woods (Advance).

Bought 2 x day tickets.  Wanted to see as much live work as possible. Wasn’t disappointed.

Very brave to put on this sort of event. More power to your elbow.

Well done having the festival alongside the Paula Rego exhibition.

Thank you for providing a great event and for organising such thought-provoking panels and performances.

Gender parity needs to be achieved in all aspect of performance- not just on stage. That’s what I loved about the production I saw, it had a female writer, performers and director.

50:50 from the top. Venues should have to evidence gender parity.

Excellent symposium. Choice of plays excellent. Varied and thought provoking. Well done for staging this - especially alongside the Paula Rego exhibition.  Good location for event; performances very high standard, film was amazing, wonderful to see such talent overall in MK.

More opportunities like this please. Women writers, directors, curators, performers. On themes that speak to the issues. How great to have a curated programme of drama on such a topical and relevant theme. Well done indeed!

More opportunities (such as this symposium) for women writers, directors, curators and performers on themes that speak to the issues like this.

How great to have such a curated programme of drama on such a topical and relevant theme.  The Gallery is clearly trying to support new programmes and the practical arrangements in place seem fine.

We now need a mixture of interventions. Good measurement and monitoring  for venues. Public commitment from venues. Also education in schools to encourage girls to take risks.

Funding initiatives needed to force agenda; campaigns to give women a voice; theatres to acknowledge their main audiences are older women and produce theatre reflecting their experiences.

Yes, more plays by women writers.

Very impressed with the use of BSL interpreters, I think the production company should be commended on their inclusivity.

Rosemary Hill is to be congratulated for such an outstanding event. So great to have something like this in MK.