Women volunteers needed for ceremony to mark Great Exhibition of the North closing weekend

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The Great Exhibition of the North is calling for volunteers to help commemorate the centenary of women’s suffrage in a special performance on Friday 7 September to mark the Exhibition’s closing weekend.

Called ‘Great North Star’ and produced by FESTIVAL.ORG, the performance on Gateshead Quays has been created for broadcast as part of BBC One’s weekend coverage of the Great North Run (8 – 9 September), and will feature elements of music, narration, mass choreography and video projection.

A volunteer cast of 100 women is needed to take part alongside female sporting legends Paula Radcliffe, Tanni Grey Thompson and Kathryn Switzer and actors Charlie Hardwick and Julie Hesmondhalgh as part of an emotionally compelling outdoor ceremony that represents women’s equality and showcases stories from inspiring Northern women.

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Women, said:

 This fantastic performance will pay tribute to the brave, determined and inspiring women who fought for the vote and helped shape all our futures. Without them, I and my fellow women MPs would not be able to do the jobs we do today.

“This is a great opportunity for women across the North East to commemorate the centenary of women’s suffrage by volunteering to be part of the Great Exhibition of the North.”

Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said:

 “As we mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK, it is right that we pay tribute to the heroic campaigners who fought so hard for greater equality. I am pleased that their effort will be celebrated as part of the Great Exhibition of the North. I hope many women across the North will take part and tell this important story.”

The theme for the performance takes inspiration from the centenary of the Representation of the People Act (1918) which gave some women the right to vote for the first time.

Constructed in four segments, the performance will be written by Manchester-based poet and playwright Louise Wallwein, directed by Bradley Hemmings of FESTIVAL.ORG with production design by Rebecca Brower. New music is by composer Roma Yagnik and choreography by Liv Lorent (balletLORENT) – both based in Newcastle. Video design will be by Zsolt Baloch, responsible for the video projections for Made in Hull, which opened last year’s Hull 2017 City of Culture programme and lighting design by Phil Supple.

Volunteer performers can join a cast of 100 women to form a vital part of Great North Star, helping to tell the inspirational story through mass movement choreographed by leading UK contemporary dance company, balletLORENT.

The title of the performance comes from the astronomical navigation tool, the North Star.

Great Exhibition of the North is an 80-day Exhibition, taking place between 22 June and 9 September 2018 across NewcastleGateshead, celebrating great art and culture, design and innovation from across the North. www.getnorth2018.com

For more information on how to sign up as a volunteer go to: www.festival.org/take-part/great-north-star

The first audition is on 29 July and rehearsals will take place over three weekends in August.  

Notes to editors:

  • Great North Star will be staged and filmed on Gateshead Quays on the evening of Friday 7 September.
  • It is one of a series of events included in the £5 million centenary fund created by the government to celebrate the centenary aimed at encouraging more women to participate in politics. It has been commissioned by the UK Government to help mark the closing weekend of the Great Exhibition of the North.
  • It will be performed in front of an invited audience of 2,000 people that includes contributors and volunteers who will be invited as a thank you for their role in delivering the Great Exhibition of the North this summer.
  • The performance will be directed by Bradley Hemmings, Artistic Director of ORG, who devised the Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony in NewcastleGateshead in 2014.

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