National Trust Archives

 

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to meet with Darren Beatson, Senior Co-ordinator (Records and Archives) at the National Trust.

 

He gave me a huge amount of archive material related to Ferguson’s Gang, mainly photos of every page of ‘the boo’s’ – the gang’s notebooks- containing receipts for donations they gave to the National Trust, blow by blow breakdowns of gang rituals, reports of each stunt they undertook and press cuttings of the stunts, which give a brilliant selection of perspectives on each event.

We get a real insight into the playfulness of the gang. The code language used and the world they were playing in.

We’ll be using the boo’s as source material for making the show next week, but I thought I’d share a little here.

All images courtesy of National Trust. The originals are held at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.

 

More to come soon….

 

‘The Mouse’

Paper Aeroplanes, housing consultancy follow up

I wanted to add a follow up about the play consultation on housing in Hengrove Park. 

It was very evident in speaking to the children at Perry Court that the architecture of the urban  planning could have significant effects on their access to the playpark and their experience of accessing and using the park.  Currently they walk through a wide open space to access the park. They feel safe as they are in the open, able to be seen and able to see others. If the children are forced to access the playpark via an enclosed route- an alley or street for instance, because of encroaching housing, they immediately feel concerned for their safety. Older children can seem threatening for the younger ones and during conversations at the playpark we were told that the skate park and play park naturally segregate older from younger in  positive way- they each have their zones. When older ones use the playpark, younger ones can feel threatened, so encountering older children in, and on the way to the park can be a worry for younger children. Older children are not the only threat, it could be adults too, but the main thing is that encountering people in an enclosed space is a worry, while being in an open space is good. They feel safe, watched and free. It is evident that if access route was to be constricted, some young people would stop going to the playpark, at least would stop accessing it from Hengrove Park.”

We used paper aeroplanes to ‘send’ messages to the council. Children wrote on the planes and we flew them into the cockpit of the large, blackboard plane.

Messages were very varied, lots about wildlife and space to play. The one that really stuck out to me as sending a message though was:

““Dear whoever came up with this idea-  no offence but I’m not liking the big pile of houses because it’s just ruining the environment. Please take this.”

 

childrens throughs caught on paper aeroplanes

Ferguson’s Gang vs the Octopus research, episode 2

Focus East 15 Visit 7th April.

I went to visit Focus East 15 again a couple of weeks ago at their street stall on Stratford High Street and joined their monthly meeting at ‘Sylvia’s Corner- the groups headquarters, named after Sylvia Pankhurst.

Each time I visit I am stuck by how blatant the irony is in Stratford. As I walked to meet the group, who are campaigning for housing rights in a borough where 1 in 25 is homeless, I see adverts proclaiming “YOU CAN BUY YOUR FIRST HOME AT THE FIRST TIME BUYER HOME SHOW!!!”

Subtlety

I met more campaigners and friends of Focus, including local residents, former residents of Carpenters Estate and several artists and theatre makers. Many more ‘gang names’ were thought up and allocated.

The Terrible Turtles

These two hatted sleuths are the ‘Terrible Turtles’, who also happen to run the Museum of Homelessness. I also met artists from Blueprint, Lung and You Should See the Other Guy- theatre makers who are actively engaged in this campaign, making shows about Focus East 15 and the wider issues.  Follow links to see more about their work.

I’ve been keen that the show should raise the profile of campaign groups and the wider stories, but that we should also directly work with groups alongside the shows, particularly if this was to tour. I’d been thinking about workshops in playful protest, creativity in campaigning, but I’ve realised that workshops, and a wider online presence also need to be vehicles for skill sharing and a way to link groups. They might also direct attendees towards legal or other support and networks.

The meeting drew links between the many, many groups in London and further afield united in the fight for housing rights. Time and time again the same story is being told, of council housing being sold off and residents being decanted and displaced. “The London clearances” was brought up as a term, linking the plight to that of the Highland clearances. Scottish people cleared for sheep, Londoners cleared for luxury flats. Both stories putting profit before people.

“‘We need more housing” is what they say, but the new housing is not for working class people and (the demolition and wholesale evictions) are destroying communities.” – Jasmine

A resident who had lived on Carpenters Estate for 30 years talked of her sadness any having to leave. ‘I was decanted’ ‘Every time I pass (Carpenters) I check to see if (my old home) is still empty.’ She has lost her community. ‘It was a good estate’. She would open her door to neighbours and friends. Now she feels isolated and alone.

I gave a short presentation about Ferguson’s gang vs the Octopus and was interested in what perceived impact this, and other arts projects about and supporting such issues could have on the campaigns. I wanted to know how Fergusons Gang could be useful. The main reason clearly linked to play. The story of Ferguson’s Gang fills people with delight. It’s inspiring and exciting. What they did, and how they did it is fun, and it makes people smile.

“Activism is serious but it needs to be fun too”

“It’s inspiring because these strong women were bold in their campaigning and did this, with playfulness all those years ago”

“They made a difference, and people can see themselves in Fergusons Gang.” “

Its tells you that you’re not alone, you’re part of a story.”

“It gives solidarity through time. It’s good to know about our history. See your part in this story. The same story of Suffragettes and Pankhurst. Fergusons are part of that story as is every campaign group today.”

As I was leaving Stratford, I saw the Terrible Turtles, in long coats and hats, weaving their way through dense crowds in a shopping centre. I had them in my sights, and went towards them, but immediately, they had gone. Lots them in a  shop full of mirrors. I wondered if I’d imagined them. Or perhaps they had sneaked off through a hidden door……

Back soon for another instalment…..

a 21st Century Ferguson’s Gang

Mouse

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Stage Manager for ‘Ferguson’s Gang vs the Octopus’

 

Mufti Games are looking for an experienced Stage Manager for a 1 week development phase of a new project.

 

We want the project to be inclusive and representative of society, we encourage applications from all backgrounds.

 

We are developing a playable outdoor and digital theatre show about, and supporting housing activism. ‘Ferguson’s Gang vs the Octopus’

The show is inspired by Ferguson’s Gang- (you can read about them here) – a group of women who in the 1930’s dressed up as ‘gangsters’ gave themselves, alter egos (‘Red Biddy’, ‘Bill Stickers’, ‘Silent O’Moyle’) and campaigned for reform on conservation policy and town planning.

 

We are looking into who Ferguson’s Gang might already be today, and how we could reinvent them in current housing campaigning. We are interested in what place ‘play’ has within housing campaigning today.

 

The audience will join Ferguson’s Gang and engage in a series of playable, creative interventions, working to achieve the gangs objective in the story. We aim to engage the audience deeply within the narrative through play.

 

You can read more about the project here : http://muftigames.com/category/fergusons-gang/

 

and see other Mufti projects at muftigames,com

 

Dates: We are running a week residential to develop ideas w/c 7th to 11th May at  101 Creation Space in Newbury

 

Fee: £500 Monday- Friday. All meals, accommodation and transport provided.

 

Experience of outdoor, promenade, immersive and/or multi-media theatre is desirable. You should be highly organised, adaptable and confident communicating with diverse groups. We will be play testing interventions and games throughout the week with the public, test players and on the street. We may be working in empty spaces, outdoor spaces, shops and public spaces. We will be prototyping tech and will need to be able to respond to new ideas as they develop over the week. Above all you should have a playful nature and be up for throwing yourself into the mix.

 

Please send a short cover letter highlighting your interest in the project, relevant experience and tell us a little about how you like to play in your life.

 

If you would prefer to apply via a video of yourself, audio or by another means, please feel free to do so.

 

Deadline 20th April

 

Creative team call out Ferguson’s Gang vs the Octopus

‘Ferguson’s Gang vs the Octopus’ will be a playable, outdoor and digital theatre show about, and supporting housing activism. We are in the midst of bringing together a diverse creative team for our research and development phase. We want the project to be inclusive and representative of society, we encourage applications from artists from all backgrounds.

The show is inspired by Ferguson’s Gang– a group of women who in the 1930’s dressed up as gangsters, gave themselves, alter egos (‘Red Biddy’, ‘Bill Stickers’, ‘Silent O’Moyle’) and campaigned for reform on conservation policies and town planning.

 

We are looking into who Ferguson’s Gang might already be today, and how we could reinvent them in current housing campaigning. We’re interested in what place ‘play’ has within housing campaigning today.

 

The show will take the form of a multi location, immersive audience experience, set within a narrative. The audience will join Ferguson’s Gang and engage in a series of playable, creative interventions, working to achieve the gangs objective in the story. We aim to engage the audience deeply within the narrative through play.

 

You can read more about the project here : http://muftigames.com/category/fergusons-gang/ and see muftigames.com for more info about the company.

 

We are running a week residential to develop ideas at 101 Creation Space in Newbury w/c 7th May and aim to have a sharing on Friday 11th May. During the week we will be devising creative interventions, experimenting with the narrative and physical journey for the audience and working out the role of the performers within the piece.

 

Please send a short cover letter telling us about you, your personal interest in the project and how you like to play in your everyday life.

 

If you would prefer to apply via a video of yourself, audio or by another means, please feel free to do so.

 

Deadline 20th April

 

We are looking to fill the following roles:

 

Actor

 

Experienced performer to join our ensemble. Any age. Actors will be experimenting with different roles in the story over the week. We will also be looking at the role of the performer as a facilitator for the audience experience and as storyteller. We will be devising games and interactions for the audience together. You should be inventive, up for throwing yourself in and experienced in making performance. – need to be available 7-11th May £500 for the week. We can also cover some, if not all access costs, eg BSL interpreter. Wheelchair accessible accommodation available.

 

Sound artist

 

We are looking for a composer, musician or sound artist who has an interest in using sound and music to interact with space and people in a playful way. We’re interested in how we can use sound- where we place it, how it is ‘heard’, how it is triggered and how people engage with it in the sense of games and interactive experiences. You will be open to think about ‘sound’ in an accessible way for Deaf audiences and how people from all walks of life will interact with sound. Ideally you will be happy to be a body in the space, engaging with the audience/players in a sharing, although this is not essential. – need to be available 7-11th May £500 for the week, We can also cover some, if not all access costs, eg BSL interpreter. Wheelchair accessible accommodation available.

Please contact:

 

Malcolm Hamilton. Director, Mufti Games

malcolm@muftigames.com

07949697721

 

social:

@muftigames

 

SaveSave