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A CELEBRATION OF STRENGTH, WISDOM ACTIVISM, FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY, AND THE INGENUITY OF WOMEN

To mark International Women’s Day the Royal Exchange Theatre has commissioned six Greater Manchester-based artists to make six new pieces of work under the heading OH WOMAN.

We are delighted to announce that Eliyana Evans, Nana-Kofi Kufuor, Gemma Langford, Channique Sterling-Brown, Rebecca Swarray and Becky Wilkie will develop original audio experiences inspired by the extraordinary women who mean something to them. Each artist will work closely with the brilliant illustrator Hannah McLennan-Jones to create an accessible visual world for their audio experience.

OH WOMAN is a celebration of remarkable lives and quiet triumphs, of famous faces and family members, and will be shared across the theatre’s website and social media channels from Monday 8 March.

A CONVERSATION WITH CHLOE by Rebecca Swarray is inspired by Manchester-based queer and powerhouse activist Chloe Cousins. In this audio experience, Rebecca creates the space for Chloe to tell her story in a way that is true to her and most importantly in a way that is as vibrant and joyful as she really is. Rebecca Swarray is curator, founder and resident DJ Mix-Stress of the Manchester-based arts and events collective, RebeccaNeverBecky.

Becky Wilkie creates IN HER OWN WORDS about artist Elizabeth Siddal. Elizabeth was a poet and a painter, but she is often talked about in relation to Dante Rossetti, her lover, or the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, many of whom she modeled for. This time she doesn’t have to be ethereal and vacant, she can be angry and ugly and tired. A muse for a modern woman, on her own terms. Becky Wilkie is a Manchester-based musician, composer, songwriter, and performer and one third of feminist theatre company RashDash.

Eliyana Evans celebrates the life of SOPHIE, an incomparable avant-garde pop music producer in her piece TRANSGRESSIVE. Her piece will honour SOPHIE's extraordinary creativity and other revolutionary trans musicians such as Wendy Carlos and Jackie Shane. Eliyana Evans is a Sound Designer, Composer and artist known as Eliyana.

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Pictured: (L-R) Becky Wilkie, Channique Sterling-Brown, Eliyana Evans, Gemma Langford, Nana-Kofi Kufuor and Rebecca Swarray

A LETTER TO A MOTHER AND A SISTER is created by Nana-Kofi Kufuor and was inspired by his mum Ama Kufuor and his sister Mammy Maguire. It is a thank you from the writer to the women in his life who shaped him and sacrificed for him. Nana-Kofi Kufuor is a playwright of Ghanaian origin from Stockport. He is currently working in a Sky writers’ room and has a play with Red Ladder.

Channique Sterling-Brown has been inspired by the incredible life of Mary Seacole, a Jamaican nurse and businesswoman who travelled the world healing and offered to serve in the Crimean war. THE LADY WITH THE SPARK honours and recognises Britain’s forgotten heroes. Channique Sterling-Brown is an actor and creative, based in Manchester. She trained at UCLAN Acting.

Writer Gemma Langford’s piece takes inspiration from her Nan, Ida, THE LAST CUNNING WOMAN OF TIMPERLEY. Sharing stories and memories this is a beautiful celebration of a woman who helped to heal in more ways than one. Gemma Langford’s work has appeared at theatres including Theatre503, The National Theatre Studio, Southwark Playhouse, 53Two and Hope Mill.

Manchester illustrator Hannah McLennan-Jones is working closely with each theatre maker. She creates vibrant pieces of illustration using pen and ink drawings, which are then collaged together to create her final pieces. Her work follows a strict pink colour palette and is inspired by punk aesthetics, pop culture, neon lights & nostalgia. Sound designer Annie May Fletcher also joins the creative team.

Joint Artistic Directors Roy Alexander Weise and Bryony Shanahan said…
Too often we only hear stories about the ‘fight’ to get the achievements of women recognised - in history, in the workplace, in society. With OH WOMAN we wanted to give artists from Greater Manchester the opportunity to celebrate, shout about, honour and pay tribute to women who have had an impact on them. We were overwhelmed by the applications we received, the energy and passion that came across was incredible, from pieces about pop stars, grandmothers, painters, actors and activists – the respect for their subjects was palpable. The artists creating the work we have commissioned identified some truly exceptional women, whose stories are uplifting, both personal and universal and uniquely different from each other. We hope this collection of audio experiences are as inspiring to you as they were to us, we cannot wait to share them with you.”

OH WOMAN can be found on the website and on the Theatre’s social media channels from 8 March.