We met with a variety of young people and organisations and using filming techniques and post production concepts designed by Craig and the extensive research and experience of Anji and Tina, the team were able to work in partnership with the local community to devise, produce and deliver a series of short films commemorating local Suffrage both from the times of the Suffragettes but also linking that with the relevance today of suffrage and what it means to young people to have aspirations for the future and what it means to have equality.
Bandley Hill Play Centre
The young people at Bandley Hill Play Centre worked on the story of a local schoolgirl suffragette. They read the adapted Ellen Margaret Cross story and produced written work to a high standard, then worked together on pre-production writing a common script and a filming schedule. The young people shared the role of Ellen Margaret Cross and designed and made their own props from cut out paper, card and found objects. The project carried on with further sessions within the play centre not only making a larger fabric banner but also continued discussion and ideas for possible future projects.
We spent three days working with the students at Barnwell School.
Day one was made up of: Year 10 media GCSE, Year 11 Drama and Year 13 Media Study. Year 10 acted out a piece from Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton's letters and her book Prison and Prisoners. The media teacher had selected extracts to use. Some of the year 12 assisted with the production set up and filming. They devised costume ideas and made props from paper and found objects. The pupils learnt about direction and composition.
Second session we had Year 11 drama students who acted alongside Year 12 in the crowd scenes from the Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton story. Year 12 media students we concentrated on the male role in the Suffrage story and the Parliamentary debate for and against equality for women within the voting system and Parliament. In the final session we worked on post-production editing techniques with Craig Maret and voiceover work to tie the stories and letters together.
St Vincent de Paul
We spent a whole day with the Year 6 students. The pupils had already had a lesson and homework to introduce the Suffragettes and the fight for the right to vote. They were shown the film that Bandley Hill Play Centre had made. We had asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” concentrating of the future aspirations of the young people and how equality has an impact on that. The group wrote their answers down on cue cards and went to record their voices with Craig. Tina and Anji worked with the group to produce small artworks with their words and drawings in keeping with the suffragette’s artistic endeavours to spread the word of their cause. The group went on to work in small groups collaborating with each other to make a banner showing their joint aspirations as the suffragettes also worked together on banners. They then went on to make silhouette art works of each other in keeping with the films the project had already produced. We finished the session introducing mechanical typewriters to the group and they all had a try at writing on them. The suffragettes had used typing as a way of earning money to pay their way especially after being in prison. The incredible amount of work produced by the pupils in one day has been made into a film.
Stevenage Youth Council
With the Youth Council, the project concentrated on Emily Wilding Davison who had a prolific activist role within the Suffragette movement. They concentrated on acting as Emily reading her letters and her story. They also worked on the answering the questions “If I didn’t have the right to vote” and “If women didn’t have the right to vote?” The group also looked at influential women and were filmed talking about them.
Stevenage Museum Volunteers
The volunteers were privileged in looking at Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton's archives from Knebworth House, researching and writing about them. We visited Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton's Knebworth home with the group and then back at the museum worked on a film documenting the core pieces that the group had chosen to focus on. The volunteers acted in the film discovering the artefacts and then studying them and worked on voiceovers describing each piece. The film gave further insights into Constance’s life and work.
The team researched the songs of the Suffragettes and these were performed by local Singer/Songwriter Lea Ellis and used throughout the films.
Acknowledgments Lea Ellis Singer of Suffrage Songs Teachers and pupils of Barnwell School, Stevenage Young people and Playworkers at Bandley Hill Play Centre, Stevenage Teachers, Teaching assistants, Parent helpers and Pupils of St Vincent De Paul School, Stevenage Stevenage Youth Council Members, Volunteers, Stevenage Borough Council Community Development Workers and Youth Workers at Youth Connexions, Bowes Lyon Centre Jo Ward and Sam Daisley at Stevenage Musuem Volunteers at Stevenage Museum Heritage Lottery Fund Knebworth House Stevenage Borough Council