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Two Community Projects to Explore Representation at the Northcott

A woman reaches into a wooden cube, which has a small carboard cutout figures inside
We have commissioned two artists to dig into our archive and create new community-led projects that explore representation in theatre.

The artists – Hannah Kumari and Liberty Smith – will undertake a series of workshops with local people and, inspired by the stories they uncover, co-create new works that will be shared as part of an open day on 1 May entitled The Stories We Tell.

Hannah Kumari

Hannah Kumari is a performer, writer and producer based in Somerset. Working with global majority and working class groups, she will create a site specific, immersive performance to respond to resonant themes in the archive.

The piece will celebrate stories from the Northcott’s past but it will also acknowledge that representation might not have been appropriate… we’ll explore what people feel is important to be presented now.”

Liberty Smith

Liberty Smith is an artist and filmmaker based in Bristol. In this project she is working with people often underrepresented in theatres and will create a short film in which a narrator guides the viewer through the archive whilst posing probing questions about the stories we tell. Liberty will also develop collaborative portraits that confront ideas of our visual culture out in the city of Exeter.

Participants will choose characters that resonate with them and, with the help of professional, hair, make-up and costume, we’ll transform them into these characters and place them in local settings. We might have a Pantomime Dame in the high street or a Shakespeare character in a barber shop – we’ll see what emerges. Either way, we’ll spark some interesting conversations about representation  in nearby neighbourhoods.”

The commissioned artists were selected by a panel of community representatives, from groups including University of Exeter students and Exeter’s Resilient Women’s network who have been exploring the archive for more than a year.

Throughout this project we’ve wanted to gather new perspectives on the Northcott and enable people to play an active part in how we shape future stories. It felt really important that the power to decide which artists got selected was handed over to communities.

Sophie McCormack, Heritage Manager at Exeter Northcott

Alongside these commissioned works, we are also working with theatre-maker Laura Horton to gather and share stories from people who have in some way had a connection with the Northcott. Part of a nation-wide project to discover more about the impact of theatre on people’s lives, we want to hear from anyone who has an experience they’d like to share. For more information and to share your theatre stories, please use the button below.

These stories will be available online and as part of the The Stories We Tell open day which offers an opportunity for people to experience the commissioned works alongside performances from the Northcott Young Company and family-friendly craft activities.


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