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Public Engagement

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Our Collaboration With Fuel

"Women holding hands through time, bonded in shared experience"

(audience feedback, December 2023)

 

In 2023 the Last Taboo of Motherhood team at the University of Warwick, in collaboration with London-based production company Fuel, commissioned the production of a series of audio plays adapted from the project team’s research into the history of postnatal mental illness in twentieth-century Britain.

 

The artistic collaboration - also called ‘The Last Taboo of Motherhood’ - explores this important area in women’s health by focusing on how women, their families, ‘experts’, and the wider community, tell stories about motherhood and mental distress.

 

The three audio-pieces produced from this exciting collaboration between historians and artists, have been informed by a variety of historical sources, including first hand testimonies - oral histories and written narratives - from women who have experienced postnatal mental illness.

Other sources include court and mental hospital records.

 

Written by Bryony Kimmings, Courtney Conrad and Sara Shaarawi, these pieces probe vital questions about women’s experiences of mental illness and the pervasive culture of silence that has existed around maternal mental health.

It provokes reflections into how history might prompt new insights into our responses to postnatal mental illness today.

 

Funded by the Wellcome Trust and the University of Warwick, ‘The Last Taboo of Motherhood’ audio series has just finished touring over autumn and winter 2023-24 as a physical installation.

It has had successful runs at Warwick Arts Centre, Storyhouse (Chester), Camden People’s Theatre (London) and at the Glasgow Women's Library.

 

The audio plays are now available on our website.

Click here to listen now.

They can also be listened to at Fuel Digital and on Spotify.

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 *Please note that these audio plays discuss distressing subjects, including postnatal mental illness, infanticide and death.

We recommend that they are suitable for ages 16+.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK

"Brave, compassionate, important"

"Insightful, painful, emotive"

"At times harrowing"

"Showed how people’s stories & history is a powerful way to engage people"

"I think it’s important to help all women feel seen and heard"

 

* * *

PAST TOUR DATES

NOVEMBER & DECEMBER 2023

Warwick Arts Centre (as part of the Resonate Festival), Saturday 4 November - Saturday 11 November 2023 (with a panel discussion about the creation of the work on 8 November at 7.45pm)

 

Chester Literature Festival at Storyhouse,  Monday 13 November – Sunday 26 November 2023 (with a panel discussion about the creation of the work on 17 November 2023)

Camden People's Theatre, Monday 27 November - Sunday 10 December 2023

 

JANUARY 2024

Glasgow Women’s Library, Friday 12 January – Friday 27 January 2024 (with a panel discussion about the creation of the work on 25 January 2024)

'The Last Taboo of Motherhood' On Tour

About The Artists

Bryony Kimmings

Inspired by the taboos, stigmas, anomalies, and social injustices around her, Bryony Kimmings creates mind-blowing, multi-platform art works to provoke change. Her work centres around outlandish 'social experiments' that Kimmings conducts with genuine genius, intrigue, and wholehearted fearless gusto. As an artist, she sets her sights on the impossible and unconquerable and turns the unspeakable into the year’s hottest topic. Previous works have seen the artist retracing an STI to its source, spending 7 days in a controlled environment in a constant state of intoxication and becoming a pop star invented by a 9-year-old. Bryony’s award-winning work has toured across the world, including Perth Festival, Sydney Opera House, Arts Centre Melbourne, Brisbane Powerhouse (Australia), HOME Manchester, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Battersea Arts Centre's Grandhall (UK), Antifest (Finland), Culturgest (Portugal), Fusebox Festival (Texas), The Southbank Centre, Melbourne International Comedy Festival (Australia) and Lisinski Operahouse (Croatia). Kimmings also mentors artists, writes musicals, teaches workshops, writes films, speaks on panels and is sometimes on the telly.

Courtney Conrad

Courtney Conrad is a Jamaican poet. She is an Eric Gregory Award winner and a Bridport Prize Young Writers Award recipient. She was shortlisted for The White Review Poet's Prize, Manchester Poetry Prize, Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, Mslexia’s Women’s Poetry Prize, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award’s Poetry Prize and the Poetry Wales Pamphlet competition. She has been longlisted for the National Poetry Competition, Rebecca Swift Women Poets’ Prize and The Rialto Nature and Place Poetry Competition.  She is an alumna of The London Library Emerging Writers Programme, Malika's Poetry Kitchen, Barbican Young Poets, Obsidian Foundation Retreat, Griots Well Collective and Roundhouse Poetry Collective. Her poems have appeared in Magma Poetry, Poetry Wales, The White Review, Stand Magazine, Poetry Review, Bath Magg, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Anthropocene Poetry Journal and The Adriatic Magazine. Her work has been anthologised by Anamot Press, Bridport Prize, Re.creation, Peekash Press, Bad Betty Press and Flipped Eye Press. She has performed at Glastonbury Festival, Brainchild Festival and UKYA City Takeover. She has also been commissioned by the Museum of London, Guildhall, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Britain, The African Centre, BBC 1Xtra and Spread the Word.

 

Sara Shaarawi

Sara Shaarawi is a playwright, translator, producer and performer from Cairo, who is based in Glasgow. In 2021, NIQABI NINJA was produced as part of Edinburgh International Festival (Independent Arts Projects/Lyceum and national tour); the play, which explores themes of sexual violence against women, has been performed in Cape Town, South Africa and Kampala, Uganda and been published as part of Contemporary Plays by African Women (Methuen). SISTER RADIO was co-produced by Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Stellar Quines at Pitlochry in Aug/Sept 2022. In 2015, Sara was invited to take part in the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland’s Mentoring Programme and in 2017 she won their New Playwright’s Award. She is an alumnus of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Break Through Writers programme, where she developed LELAH, and took part in their Starter Programme doing research and development on SPITHOOD, a new play exploring police brutality and racism in Scotland. She is currently under commission to National Theatre of Scotland for her full-length play SPITHOOD.

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