International Women’s Day 2022

This #IWD2022 we're celebrating just a few of the many amazing women who are involved with the Sherman.

Hannah McPake
I’ve played a lot of male roles in the past either as a man complete with fake moustache or gender swapped – to be honest I’d love to see more female written, female led productions with cracking female leads who exist in their own right rather than as a reimagining of male characters. I’m excited to be working with the Sherman to explore this in our reimagining of the Tales of The Brothers Grimm.

Last year Hannah McPake played Scrooge in our production of A Christmas Carol, and she’s now putting a new spin on the Tales of the Brothers Grimm with her adaptation of these famous fairy tales.

E. E. Rhodes
A couple of years ago I read that female underrepresentation in theatre was rife. But just how bad could it be? Whatever numbers you’re thinking of, go lower – 36% artistic directors, 33% technical staff, 28% performers, 25% playwrights getting their work performed, 10% of critics, and only 10% of Olivier winners!

I was gutted that it hadn’t even been getting better bit by bit. Over the previous ten years things had actually deteriorated. Turns out the pandemic has made things even worse – funding, access, gatekeeping, and entrenched antiquated views about women’s lives. More marginal still if you’re a woman who faces multiple discriminations – whether that’s sexuality, disability, gender identity, ethnicity, race, class, or age.

It’s going to take massive effort to #BreakTheBias. But change has to come from somewhere, and some theatres, like Sherman, are showing up with a wrecking ball.

E. E. Rhodes is a Cardiff-based writer. She says 25 years ago working in theatre almost put her off for life, but now she’s part of Sherman Theatre’s Unheard Voices programme. “Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of a welcome mat (and all the investment that underpins it) to bring people in.”

Fosia Ibrahim
I became involved with Sherman 5 through a friend and interpreter. I realised that it was enjoyable, accessible and affordable. Since then I haven’t looked back, including when I used to sign announcements of shows for Sherman 5.

Fosia is a Sherman 5 member and a member of our Deaf Theatre club.

Tijesunimi Oluwapelumi Olakojo
My name is Tijesunimi Oluwapelumi Olakojo. I got involved with the Sherman Theatre through Oasis Cardiff; a charity that provides support to refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff.

At first, I got involved as an advisory group member by representing asylum seekers and refugees. After that, I became more interested in the organization, so I decided to become a Sherman 5 member and volunteer. This enlightened me about the wide range of opportunities to learn new skills through workshops and training courses, which includes being enrolled as one of Sherman Players; a friendly, fun, and welcoming theatre group for everyone over 18 to learn about theatre-making through acting, scriptwriting, and designing.

In short, my involvement with the Sherman community has been eventful, fun-filled, introduced me to more people and friends, and also helped me gain more confidence.

“I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise”
Maya Angelou

Helen Byrne
I am now a member of the Sherman Scribblers after writing a ‘Love letter to Cardiff’ in 2020. My letter was published, much to my surprise. Who wants to hear what a woman of 50 has to say? I’m Cardiff born and bred, and in my experience Cardiff is a welcoming city full of people from so many cultures and backgrounds. The challenge is to ensure that continues, that we don’t allow bias to become part of who we are.

Since joining the Scribblers I’ve been learning about writing for theatre, and found I had something to say, and someone wanted to listen. I’ve been given a hand up by the theatre. Someone believed in me. I am now looking to research the women of Wales who have been forgotten, or whose story has yet to be told. By telling their story I hope to show how they challenged society and its expectations of women, and how it enriched others’ lives. We must break the bias about women, and I want to contribute to that. The theatre will allow me a voice to do this. The more we understand about the women who brought about change, the more we can align ourselves with them and change the perception of women. I want to give these women a voice to be heard by all generations.

Angharad Tudor
My experience of becoming a single parent to a newborn during a global pandemic became a catalyst for me to develop a satirical theatre piece based on the disparities in maternal mental health; encouraging me to reach out to mothers from a multitude of generations within my community in West Wales; sharing personal experiences of mental isolation, societal pressures and loss of identity.

As an early-career writer it has driven me to break down the barriers faced by maternal female writers & why the live arts in Wales needs to do more to accommodate for new parents, so that we are not seeing talented writers, theatre-makers, musicians, comedians give up on their careers. It’s so inspiring to see a rise in daytime comedy events become a thing and more theatre companies adapt their production times in order to make room for bumps and prams.

Angharad is part of Sherman Theatre’s Unheard Voices programme

Mandy Ivory-Castile
I try to lead the Sherman Production Department with compassion and create an environment where talking and listening is celebrated. Caring for my team and the people around me. Showing that you can create and build excellent theatre, produced with heart.

Mandy is Head of Production and Planning at Sherman Theatre.

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