PHM’s New Playwright in Residence

1983 Bermondsey by-election campaign leaflet © Peter Tatchell

Stephen M Hornby, award winning Manchester playwright and Playwright in Residence at People’s History Museum (PHM), blogs about writing his new play for us.  It’s about seasoned human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell’s time as a Labour Party candidate in the hugely controversial 1983 Bermondsey by-election.

Stephen will give an insight into writing his new play and his process of using PHM’s archives in a series of three blogs.

Blog 1 of 3: Meeting Peter Tatchell for the first time, again

‘I’m suddenly really nervous.  It’s one thing meeting someone at a public do, shaking hands, having a selfie moment and moving on.  But this is an interview.  A three hour interview, which is itself one of three interviews.  In his flat.  His home.  What if he doesn’t like me?  What if I don’t like him?  What if my questions are really bad, predictable and shallow?  I can see the block where his flat is.  I’m early.  Too early to knock.  That might come across as passive aggressive, as if I’m trying to catch him out in some way.  It’s raining.  Time for a coffee and some deep breaths.

I have met Peter Tatchell before, several times, going back to the 1980s.  I was a drama student at the University of Kent from 1987.  A wonderful out gay drama lecturer, Alan Beck, was orchestrating Tatchell, Ian McKellen and Derek Jarman to protest against the introduction of what was to become Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 (this prohibited local authorities from intentionally promoting homosexuality and from publishing material in any maintained school on the acceptability of homosexuality as a “pretended” family relationship).  I’d only just come out.  Bad timing.  Alan gathered gay men under his wing and gently but decisively politicised us.  And then I’m stood in his garden handing out burgers to men in black leather jackets, one of them was Peter Tatchell.  It was our first fleeting connection.

Peter Tatchell in 1983 campaigning in Bermondsey © Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell at a press conference in 1983 © Peter Tatchell

Manchester, February 1988 and I’m on a train from London packed with a huge number of gays and lesbians, all impossibly, joyously out, and angry.  The mood is one of defiance.  We’re ready to be welcomed by a wonderful city, but bristling with defiance to the anticipated rough treatment by the notoriously homophobic Greater Manchester Police.  Peter is at the head of the march.  I catch his eye at one point and smile.  I wonder if I should go over and say hello, presume that he remembers me from the BBQ months earlier, the nervous drama student who handed him a slightly charred bap.  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  My diffidence means the moment evaporates and Peter is swept on.

During the 1990s, I followed his activism on telly.  I have a job now.  A proper job as a Probation Officer.  My activism is more individualised.  I don’t do protests much anymore.  Peter does.  He founds gay rights group OutRage! and disrupts the Easter sermon by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.  He gets arrested.  He tries to arrest Robert Mugabe.  He gets badly beaten.  He becomes a remote televisual figure and my life drifts back into theatre.  I become a playwright, a proper one, and that leads me somehow to becoming the first LGBT History Month Playwright in Residence.  My own little part of the past to play with.

It’s 2015.  LGBT History Month is holding its first ever history festival.  I now live in Manchester, where the festival is being held.  We’re staging a three part theatre piece, A Very Victorian Scandal, about the largest ever police raid on a LGBT venue in Hulme, Manchester in 1880.  We’re doing it in Via, a vibrant pub on Manchester’s Canal Street, in the city’s Gay Village.  There’s actors in period costumes, musicians, can-can boys, an international audience.  We sort of have permission to re-stage the raid in police uniforms….sort of.

From left to right John Smeathers as the emcee and Alan Beck as The Sister of Mercy in production of A Very Victorian Scandal © N Chinardet

Left to right: John Smeather as the Emcee and Alan Beck as Sister Mercy in the production of A Very Victorian Scandal © N Chinardet

And suddenly I’m asked to meet a Mr Tatchell at the door and escort him into a reserved area.  There he is.  I recognise him, of course.  He doesn’t recognise me.  Why would he?  And I whisk him through the crowd to meet Sister Mercy, a man dragged up as a nun who is part of the performance.  That man is Alan Beck, and for a brief second we are all in the same moment again, as we were in 1988, all the same, all completely different.

It’s time now.  I get out of the cafe and back into the rain.  It’s time to meet Peter.  For the fourth time, but also for the first.  I walk up some stairs on the side of the building and knock on the door.’

Stephen’s work began with a detailed study of the Labour Party archives, the complete holdings of which are held at PHM, where the museum also holds some of the personal papers of Tatchell.  The project is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the University of Salford.

Stephen’s play, First Rumours, will premiere as a rehearsed reading at People’s History Museum on Sunday 10 February 2019 at 3.00pm as part of OUTing the Past, the national festival for LGBT history and the museum’s 2019 programme, which is dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of protest.  The reading will be followed by a Q&A with Peter Tatchell, facilitated by LGBT activist and historian Paul Fairweather.

You can find out more about Stephen’s work here:

Twitter:  @stephenmhornby

Instagram:  stephenmhornby

Facebook:  Inkbrew Productions

LGBT History Month website:  www.outingthepast.org.uk/festival-theatre/

 

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Call out for designers for 2019 exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo & Protest

The People’s History Museum (PHM) is pleased to announce an exciting opportunity to work with us on our 2019 headline exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo & Protest.  The exhibition will run from Saturday 23 March 2019 to Sunday 23 February 2020.

2019 marks 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre, a major event in Manchester’s history, and a defining moment for Britain’s democracy.  To commemorate this monumental anniversary, PHM will explore the changing face of protest: past, present and future.  We are looking for designers to develop all aspects of the exhibition’s design and visual identity.  Find the full details in the design brief.

If you would like to submit an expression of interest please return a PDF with the following information to PHM’s Exhibitions Officer mark.wilson@phm.org.uk by 5.00pm on Monday 3 December 2018:

  • Full contact details
  • Relevant examples from your portfolio
  • A statement outlining your understanding of the brief, your values and why you want to work on this project

Rochdale school explore their idea of representation

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Falinge Park High School artwork for Represent! Voices 100 Years On exhibition at PHM

Liz Thorpe, Learning Officer at People’s History Museum (PHM), discusses a recent project with Falinge Park High School in Rochdale.

As part of our year long programme exploring the past, present and future of representation, marking 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act (1918) and since all men and some women won the right to vote in Britain, we have been encouraging people to discuss, discover and reflect upon one of the great milestones for equality, and what representation means to them 100 years on.

I would like to share with you PHM’s recent project with Falinge Park High School (Falinge Park) in Rochdale, who have been working with the museum to explore their own ideas of representation.

Rochdale is an area with a long social history and is the birthplace of the co-operative movement.  It is home to many different communities and this is reflected in Falinge Park High School where over 50 languages are spoken.  Their head teacher, Janice Allen, was keen to promote a sense of shared history amongst different communities at a time of divisions in society and against the backdrop of a recent rise in far right groups in Britain.

Over the course of the last year, 15 students have discussed some of the issues facing Rochdale, learnt about its history and thought about how they could promote a more positive and harmonious place to live.

The project included a visit to PHM to watch one of the museum’s popular Living History performances, Moving Stories – Migration & Identity, which looks at the life of a young girl who was born in Manchester and whose parents came from India.  Moving Stories explores the themes of both migration and identity.  Also at the museum, the students debated issues that mattered to them in a Have Your Say workshop, where current issues, linked to the museum’s collection are explored.  In addition to all this the students set up and ran a stall at Bury Market to find out from the general public what local attitudes were to their neighbouring multicultural town.

The project finished with a two day art session, facilitated by artist Alex Godwin aka Billy.

Billy and the students worked together to make a series of simple, bold and visually striking flags showing themes of equality, civil rights and the representation of people today.  The students raised questions about gender norms, diversity and representation using colourful and positive techniques demonstrated by Billy and her creative practice.  Following a series of collaborative workshops, the final artwork shows a visual language highlighting the notion that 100 years on from the Representation of the People Act (1918) we can be happy about achieving a certain equality amongst people in today’s society, but there is still a long way to go before everyone can feel equally and completely represented. See a film of the artwork being created on PHM Facebook.

The group’s large scale artwork proudly introduces visitors at the museum to the Represent! Voices 100 Years On exhibition, on display until Sunday 3 February 2019.

This Family Friendly, Heritage Lottery Fund supported exhibition features objects which help to paint a picture of what representation meant in 1918 alongside crowdsourced items telling the very personal stories of today’s movements and campaigns, giving a platform to those who are still fighting to make their voices heard today.

One Falinge Park student described their work, as showing “how we want to live in equality and diversity and peace” and labelled their artwork, Opposites Attract.

At PHM we offer an engaging Learning Programme for all ages, inspiring early years, schools, colleges, universities and community groups to find out why there are ideas worth fighting for.

Visit the Learn section of the museum’s website for all the information you need to arrange a visit, or  please contact the Learning Team on learning@phm.org,uk or call 0161 838 9190.

 

Solemn reflections for Armistice Day

Jenny van Enckevort, Conservation Manager at People’s History Museum, discussing a banner she is currently working on. 

To mark Armistice Day I would like to reflect on the tragic family story behind a banner I am currently working on in The Conservation Studio at the People’s History Museum (PHM).

This is a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Achinleck Branch banner now belonging to the granddaughter of Alexander Sloan who is featured in the portrait on the banner. Alexander or ‘Sanny’ and he was known, was born in 1879, one of 12 children. They were part of a mining community in South Ayrshire, Scotland. The children started work at 12 years old, the boys in the mine and the girl as a farm servant. While still a child Sanny was involved in a pit accident and lost the sight in one eye.

Five of the sons fought in World War 1 and four were killed; Robert the baby of the family died first aged just 19 on the 22 April 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres. He had emigrated to Canada in 1913 so was fighting for the Canadian Expedition Force.
William had also moved to Canada, he described himself as a miner when he joined the Canadian Expedition Force. He served as a sapper for the 2nd Canadian Tunnelling Company, he died on the 28 June 1916 aged 23. Sanny was a Miner and not conscripted; he was also a pacifist.

Thomas and Charles were also in Canada but moved back to Scotland to join up in 1914. Thomas worked briefly at Woodmuir Colliery near Bathgate before joining the Scots Guards. He was killed aged 28 on the 15 September 1916, leaving behind a wife Mary Anne and young son. Mary Anne later re-married but still had Thomas’s letters in her handbag when she passed away as an old lady.

The telegrams telling their mother the heart breaking news that both William and Thomas were dead arrived on the same day. Sanny wrote to the war office requesting that his brother Donald, who was fighting on the front line, be moved to a slightly safer posting, the response came back saying that it was an honour to die for your country. Donald died on the 1 January 1917 aged 33 he fought with the Royal Highlanders Black Watch. He was married with four children and was a professional footballer with Everton and Liverpool football clubs.

Likely as a result of these experiences Sanny was a pacifist throughout his adult life and became dedicated serving his community, he got involved in campaigns for safer working conditions in the mines and was known for assisting workers with claims for compensation. As a councillor, serving for 25 years, he fought for improvements to housing and education and as a Labour MP, for six years, he made his voice heard with 640 interjections in parliament during that time.

 

NUM Achinleck face side

NUM Achinleck Branch banner, face side before conservation

NUM Achinleck banner reverse side before conservation

NUM Achinleck Branch banner, reverse side before conservation

The NUM Achinleck Branch banner circa 1940 is reportedly designed and painted by Richard Strain a Pithead Worker at Barony Coal Mine who was noted as having a flair for sign writing. It is made from a canvas cloth and is painted on both sides with oil medium. The face side features a portrait of Alexander Sloan surrounded by a wreath of coal, it also depicts a pair of thistles and arms with pick axes (the tools of the trade). Above the images is the title, ‘National Union of Mineworkers Achinleck Branch’ and below a ribbon scroll bearing the motto ‘We swear fidelity’. The reverse side features a ribbon scroll repeating the branch name and ‘National Union of Mineworkers’ beneath. After active use the banner was kept in Achinleck Town Hall where it lay undisturbed until the 1980s before the building was demolished, it was then moved to a garden shed before returning to Sanny Sloan’s family.
The banner came to The Conservation Studio at PHM in January 2018 with conservation beginning in summer 2018. The condition is very poor as a result of its previous storage conditions; the canvas has been weakened leading to structural tears and losses. The surface is covered in soiling, mould deposits and waterborne staining. The paint is poorly adhered to the surface in many areas making it difficult to handle and even clean safely without enduring further losses. The treatment proposal includes cleaning to remove soiling and stains, where possible, working methodically in 10cm by 10cm squares. This will be followed by consolidation of the loose paint fragments using a conservation grade adhesive. The banner will then be fully supported with a transparent layer on the reverse side and the areas of loss will be filled with a sympathetic fabric, coloured to match the original.

The Conservation Studio on Instagram
The conservation is ongoing at time of writing (November 2018).  If you visit the museum you may be able to see the banner from the viewing window in Main Gallery Two.

Sanny Sloan, the Miners’ MP and his Family of the First World War. By Esther Davies, 1 May 2015. With revisions to January 2018

Opportunity: Creative Writing Facilitator- £85 per two hour workshop Contract (Freelance)

 

Are you a creative writing facilitator who can champion People’s History Museum (PHM) and its programme by delivering creative writing workshops in response to the museum’s collection?

People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.  The museum provides opportunities for people of all ages to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all. PHM offers a powerful programme with annual themes; 2018 looks at representation and commemorates 100 years since the first women and all men got the vote, and 2019 will see a year of activities around protest movements to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, 1819.

We offer an inspiring Learning Programme for all ages that uses Living History performances, art based workshops and creative writing to engage learners with ideas worth fighting for. In line with Arts Council England (ACE) Cultural Education Challenge, we want to make sure that more children and young people can create, compose and perform. We want every child and young person to have the chance to visit, experience and participate in extraordinary work, and be able to know more, understand more, and review the experiences they’ve had.

Through our creative writing workshops participants examine key political speeches and explore their own voice and ideas.  These workshops are delivered to a range of audiences including schools, colleges, community and adult groups.  Using hot seating drama techniques and gallery exploration, participants give a voice to a historical object. By the end of the workshop participants, individually or in a group, create an original poem or story to perform in the galleries.

Duties

To deliver workshops on a freelance basis, scheduled in response to booking requests. We expect approximately four creative writing workshop bookings per month, though this number may fluctuate according to demand.

To deliver the majority of workshops at PHM, however there may be occasions when workshops are required at outreach locations.

General

To perform all tasks in line with the museum’s policies, including Equal Opportunities, Safeguarding, Environmental and Health and Safety.

This role requires the post holder to work with children and vulnerable adults.  Please provide a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate (less than 12 months old) or willingness to undertake checks.

Essential skills

Experience working with a range of formal learning groups, including primary, secondary and college students.

Experience adapting delivery style when working with informal learners from a range of backgrounds.  This could include (but not restricted to) English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), youth groups, adult groups and groups with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Willingness to work with the Learning Officers to regularly monitor, review and improve the workshop to ensure all sessions are delivered to a high standard.

Strong time keeping, planning and organisational skills.

Ability to work independently, be proactive and use own initiative to deliver workshops

Conditions

We work with another creative writing freelancer and we aim to evenly distribute workshop facilitation between both facilitators.  We aim to fit with any prior commitments and work flexibly with groups to find times and days that suit the group, the facilitator and the museum.

This is a freelance post. You will be responsible for all of your tax and National Insurance contributions.  You will be required to provide evidence of your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) when invoicing for fees.

One day paid training provided. Opportunities for further training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) will be available.

Where delivery of workshops is at outreach locations, travel arrangements and expenses will be organised with the museum.  A car is not essential.

Where the post holder is disabled, every effort will be made to supply all necessary aids, adaptations or equipment to allow them to carry out all the duties of the job.  If, however, a certain task proves to be unachievable job redesign will be pursued.

As an equal opportunities employer, we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons.  However, as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and disabled people are currently under-represented within our organisation, we would particularly welcome applications from BAME and disabled applicants.  All appointments will be made on merit.

For enquiries relating to the post, please contact Charlie Corkin, Executive Support Officer at charlie.corkin@phm.org.uk  or 0161 838 9190.or phone 0161 838 9190.

To apply:

Please send your CV and a covering letter to charlie.corkin@phm.org.uk.

Closing date: Monday 8 October 2018 at 9.00am

Interview candidates notified: Thursday 11 October 2018

Interview date: Thursday 18 October 2018

Please indicate on your covering letter if you are unable to make the interview date.

The Past, Present & Future of Protest 2019 open call for public events

2019 marks 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre, a major event in Manchester’s history, and a defining moment for Britain’s democracy.  To commemorate this monumental anniversary, the People’s History Museum (PHM) will explore the changing face of protest: past, present and future.

A year long programme of events and exhibitions will explore creative disobedience and its role in today’s ideas worth fighting for.  Kicking off in January 2019 with a brand new display of protest banners.

The museum’s headline exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo & Protest, opening spring 2019, forms part of the national bicentenary commemorations and will feature objects from the museum’s unique collection including original Peterloo artefacts.  At the heart of the exhibition will be a specially commissioned film that tells the story of protest and the road to democratic reform.

As part of this Family Friendly exhibition PHM will run a Protest Lab, opening up gallery space for individuals, communities and organisations as an experimental area where views and ideas can be shared and developed for collective action.

As part of our 2019 public events programme we are pleased to announce an open call for submissions from groups or individuals wishing to showcase or produce an event at the museum in 2019.  We are particularly interested in creatively disobedient events and activities, ranging from the fun to the formal, that relate to our year long theme of protest: past, present and future, or give voice to issues and ideas worth fighting for today.

Events are not limited to, but can take place within the Protest Lab space, and also on our Radical Lates, which are the second Thursday each month when the whole museum is open to explore until 8.00pm.

The 2019 public events programme will be selected by a panel of museum staff and volunteers.

To apply:

  •  Fill in an 2019 Expression of Interest Form (Events)
  • Remember to write in clear, accessible language.  Applications that exceed the word limits will not be considered
  • Attach a maximum of two A4 sheets of supporting visuals

Deadline for submissions: Monday 19 November 2018 at 5.00pm

Please send submissions for the attention of Michael Powell, Programme & Events Officer to the museum address or by email michael.powell@phm.org.uk.

If you have any questions please email michael.powell@phm.org.uk or phone 0161 838 9190.

The Past, Present & Future of Protest 2019 open call for community exhibitions

2019 marks 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre, a major event in Manchester’s history, and a defining moment for Britain’s democracy.

To commemorate this monumental anniversary, the People’s History Museum (PHM) will explore the changing face of protest: past, present and future.

A year long programme of events and exhibitions will explore creative disobedience and its role in today’s ideas worth fighting for.  Kicking off in January 2019 with a brand new display of protest banners.

The museum’s headline exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo & Protest, opening spring 2019, forms part of the national bicentenary commemorations and will feature objects from the museum’s unique collection, including original Peterloo artefacts.  At the heart of the exhibition will be a specially commissioned film that tells the story of protest and the road to democratic reform.

As part of this Family Friendly exhibition PHM will run a Protest Lab, opening up gallery space to individuals, communities and organisations as an experimental area where views and ideas can be shared and developed for collective action.

As part of the community exhibition strand of the programme we are pleased to announce an open call for submissions from groups or individuals wishing to display or produce an exhibition at the museum in 2019.  We are particularly interested in submissions relating to protest: past, present and future, or more widely those seeking to promote active and collective participation in local, national or international democracy.  The 2019 community exhibition programme will be selected by a panel of museum staff and members of a cross section of community groups.

Available dates

Engine Hall:

Exhibitions will run for one month and slots available are:

  • Fri 5 April – Sun 5 May 2019
  • Fri 9 August – Sun 8 September 2019
  • Fri 6 December – Sun 5 January 2020


Main Gallery Two display area:

  • Exhibitions will run for three months and slots available are between January 2019 and January 2020

To apply:

 

Deadline for submissions: Sunday 12 August 2018 at 5.00pm

Please send submissions for the attention of Mark Wilson, Exhibitions Officer to the museum address or by email to mark.wilson@phm.org.uk.

If you have any questions please email mark.wilson@phm.org.uk or phone 0161 838 9190.