Work Town Wakes Girls: Cotton Queens Project

Conference: The European Conference on Arts & Humanities (ECAH2022)
Title: Work Town Wakes Girls: Cotton Queens Project
Stream: Arts - Performing Arts Practices: Theater, Dance, Music
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Bríd Andrews, University of Bolton, United Kingdom


During 2019/20 and 2021/22 the University of Bolton has been working with an 'Ambition for Ageing' Greater Manchester funded community project which was open to women over fifty who were Bolton residents. The key focus of this project was an archival investigation of the working and leisure lives of female workers in the cotton mills of Bolton in and around 1937. Participants looked into digital and paper archives located at the Bolton Museum Work Town collection. The group became very interested in the materials relating to the Cotton Queen festival held every Wakes Week at the Blackpool Tower. My role in this project was of dramaturg and facilitator and I worked with the group over a period of three months in the development of a radio play set in Blackpool during the Bolton wakes holiday. The play was developed by the group and uses a selection of archival materials and verbatim documenting of the individual experiences of mill girls on their Blackpool adventures. I would like to provide a critically informed reflection on the process and on the emerging impact of the project as a case study. I would like to share my experience of working with this community group on, what has turned out to be, a very successful radio play, which is currently making its appearance in the public domain on community radio stations. My paper will explore the role of the dramaturg in creative archival research and in the sphere of community- based theatre practice.

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