A new free project run by Jackson's Lane in Haringey is using a combination of theatre and self-defence to discuss violence against women and girls, and help women feel safer at home, in the workplace and on the street.
Women Rise uses a series of professional theatre performances that allow discussions of women's safety in public and in the workplace. "It's forum theatre," explains director Jen Camillin, "so we end with our main character in quite a bad state, and then it's up to the audience to look back at what happened to her and give advice about what you might do in those situations."
In the performance, a young woman called Liz finds herself in a difficult situation at work when a colleague begins talking and acting in ways that make her feel uncomfortable. "He's saying inappropriate things, and he's in her personal space in a way that she knows isn't right, but she doesn't feel there's anything she can do about it," says Liz.
The performance shows the situation escalating, and asks the audience what action Liz could take at different points along the story. "It's a sensitive issue," adds Liz. "What we're trying to acknowledge is that it's not an easy situation — it can feel like it's your fault and that's part of the issue too."
The first of three performances for women only will take place this Tuesday (19 April) at The Triangle Centre in South Tottenham. Each of the performance events is followed by a six-week course of self-defence to help women feel safer and more confident in public spaces.
"What came out through the project is women feeling like they couldn't go out at night and do any kind of social activity, because of fear around where they lived," says Liz. "This is really changing how they feel — giving them a little bit of confidence so now they feel they can go out, and that they shouldn't stop doing stuff."
Women Rise is supported by the National Lottery Big Lottery fund, and the performances and self-defence classes are all free of charge. Stuart Cox, Head of Participation at Jackson's Lane, explains that “Women Rise will be a great opportunity for women to come together, learn more about the issues around safety and be empowered by the many opportunities and organisations working with women in Haringey”.
To find out more or to get involved, contact Stuart at email@example.com or call 020 8347 2411.
The first performance takes place from 2-3pm this Tuesday 19 April at The Triangle Centre, 93 St Anns Rd, London N15 6NU. Future events on June 21st at Fusion Gym in Tottenham. This one will be in the evening and in Northumberland Park in the autumn.