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  • Shannon Barker

Northern Girls: Both sides of the project


Hi everyone, Shan here! You may not know me, but I’m the new trainee producer here at ARCADE. Around this time last year, I was one of the original debut writers for ‘Northern Girls Scarborough.’ This project has always been incredibly close to my heart for many reasons.

I’d not yet had the opportunity to try my hand at writing in an environment that was feedback driven. The writing workshops themselves were so incredibly supportive and encouraging, putting me at complete ease when exploring my own voice. It of course helped that the workshops were being led by two fierce women, Hannah Davies and Rach Drew.

After the process was over, It got me thinking more as a creative in the industry. I felt so inspired to keep writing with the narrative of a strong northern woman in mind. I started to grow a new sense of pride in my own identity. I realised it was quite rare to have such a huge celebration of being a northern girl, so of course I jumped at the chance to take part in the project again!


This year, I was commissioned by Pilot Theatre to write songs as a professional writer and I got the fantastic opportunity to produce the tracks and perform them myself night after night for ‘Northern Girls Bridlington’.


Having the chance to flex my voice around female driven topics I’m passionate about (mine in particular being what it is to be a northern girl and the topic of body liberation) was such a valuable experience. With the confidence behind me from the previous year I felt ready to have my voice heard.

During the project, I was invited to attend a writing workshop to meet the new debut writers and see what work they were up to. It was so exciting meeting these girls who were exactly where I was the year before.

Walking into the room at the Spa in Brid, I was hit with serious nostalgia. It was amazing to see this process taking place somewhere new and with new faces (and with less social distancing!). The girls were all so welcoming and so confident in what they were writing, I was really impressed with the work they had produced so far. It was such an honour to hear their early work - I even got to share my early work with them.


During the performance week, I was counting my lucky stars to be sharing the space with these powerful female northern actors, all of which were really down to earth and incredibly talented at what they do. Seeing the debut writers in the audience gave me a buzz like no other, each of them beaming with pride at seeing their work performed.


The beauty of this project was the sheer level of emotion that it evokes. The audiences connected to each individual piece one way or another. That being said, although the themes were all of similar roots, each piece was unique in it’s own way. Nothing felt out of place. What really stood out for me was that every piece came with a message that needed to be heard and it was an all round pleasure to be a part of.


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