Dedicated To All The Others

So, this is exciting! I finally have time to work on a life story project based on my book Becoming Unbecoming and I’m lucky enough to have got two rounds of funding for a participatory project and a period of research and development. The project is called Dedicated To All The Others (after the dedication in the front of the book) and it is preparation for the launch of a new arts organisation called Red Dress Collective.

The first stage is a six week project, funded by Leeds Inspired. It starts in mid November, helping participants to make creative responses to their experiences of violent and sexual crime. I need 12 participants from different backgrounds.

What is the project?

This six week project helps people create an artistic life story work by trying out different ways of finding a voice – creative writing, drawing/doodling and ‘forum theatre’ work (don’t worry, you don’t need to act, we have a professional actor). Themes for the workshops are taken from Becoming Unbecoming. All participants receive a free copy of the book, worth £14.99. Workshops are mostly by zoom, phone and email, with one COVID safe face to face group session. This is a Leeds pilot project and you should live in or have connections to Leeds, West Yorkshire if you want to take part.

The project uses oral history methods (telling life stories in a free-flowing way) and ‘forum theatre’ strategies (watching and directing actors). Finished work can be kept private to the individual or can be shared on Una’s website and social media. Participants can also join in the next stage of the project which starts in January, if they want to.

If you want to take part in this project:

  • You might already be searching for a voice to tell your story of experiencing violence – maybe you tried writing something already?
  • You should enjoy doing creative activities – you don’t need any arts training or experience to do this, I will guide you.
  • You should have a desire to tell your story, your way.
  • You should feel reasonably confident in yourself. Though the project aims to be of benefit to those who take part, and is gentle and supportive, it is not a type of therapy.
  • Places on the pilot project are limited but there will be future opportunities to take part.
  • Email to express your interest

Who is this ‘Una’ and why does she think she can help me tell my story?

Una is an artist and writer. She has published four graphic novels. Her first graphic novel Becoming Unbecoming is a memoir that explores sexual violence, misogynistic police and media, victim blaming and femicide in Yorkshire in the 1970s. It has been widely translated, featured on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, Radio 3 Free Thinking, New York Times, Newsweek and Oprah Magazine. The book won a Prix Artemisia du Combat Feministe and was adapted into a play by a community theatre group in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2019.

Previously Una worked in community education, community arts and as a University Lecturer. Her Ph.D explored life stories in pictorial forms and used oral history methods. Una is currently a visiting scholar at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. She completed the Oxford University Research Integrity and Ethics training in preparation for this work. The dramaturge and actor for the project is Sara Allkins, a practitioner of Forum Theatre, who has been working with Una on the performance aspects of the project, which are based on the methods used previously in Brazil.

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