Hush Now: A Wolverhampton Review
General • News
On Saturday 20th March NAC was proud to host the Wolverhampton digital premiere of Hush Now: Hidden Women by Feral Productions. The live action play was originally scheduled in our theatre programme but was unable to go ahead due to COVID restrictions. The Feral Productions team instead brought this site-specific production to our screens: exploring the hidden stories behind the doors of The Black Country’s Mother & Baby homes in this special online Wolverhampton edition.
The research phrase by the Feral was well assisted by non-The research phrase by Feral was assisted by local historian and NAC board member Jim Barrow, finding out fascinating facts and exact locations from Wolverhampton’s Mother & Baby home history. For 100 years, women across the world who found themselves pregnant, often through abuse, were sent away, effectively hidden and rehoused in these ‘homes’.
To give voices to these ‘unheard’ women, Feral Productions collaborated with Ledbury poet Sara-Jane Arbury who turned archival research into verse. Her verses were then turned into theatrical songs by Olivia Preye (originally performed in Hereford in 2019 in a series of promenade performances across nine different locations). The online production traveled to some iconic Wolverhampton locations which were filmed by the team in the weeks leading up to the premiere, giving local audiences a sense of surrounding, familiarly and realism.
The online show certainly succeeds in giving voice and visibility to unmarried mothers who were stigmatised, silenced and hidden away. The play comprises of nine songs by nine different women and you cannot help to be profoundly moved by each of their verse, struggles and adversities but also take a hand in celebrating their resilience.
“I feel a tremendous responsibility in bringing some of the stories to light and giving these women and girls voices for us to hear today. The whole process has inspired me in so many ways and I hope the poems will stay in people’s thoughts for a long time to come.” says Hush Now writer Sara-Jane Arbury.
The NAC team were also very happy to be working with Feral to bring a participatory element to the Wolverhampton screening, by offering audiences the chance to take part in Creative Writing and Song Writing workshops run by the Hush Now writers. These digital workshops via Zoom were well attended with an overwhelming audience response.
“The writing workshop was great! It made me feel like a privileged witness to the sadness and anguish experienced by women and girls in less enlightened times than our own. ‘’ – Workshop audience member.
All participators came out of the Creative Writing workshop with a written piece, a poem, a letter or short stories, extracts from this session was then used in the next Song Writing workshop to be developed into verse, giving a complete insight into the inner workings of Feral Productions on Hush Now.
“I thought it was an excellent workshop – the evidence perhaps is in the good atmosphere you created and the very good work you inspired from a number of participants.” Workshop audience member.
NAC would like to thank Feral for all of their hard work and co-operation in bringing the show to Wolverhampton screens over the past months. We can’t wait to welcome both Feral Productions and our audiences back to our stage once more.