Governments around the world have implored us to stay home to protect ourselves and others from the coronavirus disease, COVID-19. But for many, particularly women, home is a dangerous place because they find themselves incarcerated with their abusers, isolated from the people and the resources that could help them.
The statistics are frightening:
Almost one in three women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime. With two women a week being killed by a current/former partner in England and Wales alone, with over 100 calls to the police per hour (Office for National Statistics, 2018).
Calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline have increased 50% within three weeks of the U.K. lockdown due to COVID-19 (BBC News, May 2020).
In Bristol alone, the police receive on average 18 domestic abuse-related calls a day (Avon and Somerset Constabulary, 2016).
According to the most recent data at least 15 million more cases of domestic violence are predicted around the world this year as a result of pandemic restrictions.
Looking at the data and learning the dramatic effect COVID -19 has had on domestic abuse victims, a young, Bristol based, female led team of experienced, passionate theatre makers felt they had to do something. But what? What could theatre makers do?
Shared values which included a commitment to quality theatre which has a clear social and moral message led to the Black Widows project: a fully scripted, fully orchestrated musical to engage, educate, and entertain. Their intent is to draw audiences in with humour and charm, but to leave them with a clear message.
“Beyond dead husbands, the women of cell 7A have very little in common. On the bright side, a life sentence leaves a lot of time to talk. Join them, and their new cell mate, as they relive their lives, share their secrets… and confess their crimes.
Five women. Five stories. One cell. It’s time to meet the Black Widows.”
Black Widows is a brand new musical, unlike anything you’ve seen and heard before: raw, immersive, powerful – as funny as it is evocative. This dark comedy musical aims to go beyond the call of entertaining audiences and instead seeks to empower women all across the U.K. to start the fight back against the epidemic within the pandemic: domestic abuse”
Two great names recently recruited to the team are firstly that of the hugely talented choreographer, Julia Eseeval and secondly that of Danny Khan who they describe as ‘A genius in photography and media and an all-round angel.’ Check out Danny’s work here: https://bit.ly/2Y30PvV
These impassioned young people believe that when theatre returns, it must be bold and it must challenge! We’ve all been entertained by endless Netflix and iPlayer sessions during the lockdown period, but this will never equate to the feeling of sitting in the audience, as one waits for the curtain to open.
They need our help to make it happen and have set up a crowdfunding venture which will enable them to complete the first stage of Black Widows: an original cast album. They hope to release this digitally on streaming services as well as making it available to purchase
This is their starting point for the project to grow into a live run at a theatre, and hopefully beyond.
Additionally, they intend to donate 50% of album profits (once made) to the domestic abuse charity, Refuge along with retaining a role in the production, specifically for a 2020 drama graduate, knowing all too well the struggles those graduating in this difficult time will face. If you’d like to know more about Refuge, check it out here: https://www.refuge.org.uk
This is the breakdown of their costs:
- Artists: £800
- Musical Director: £250
- Orchestra: £3150
- Sound technician and mixing: £400
- Venue hire: £150
- Contingency fund: £250
Regardless of when the lockdown ends and they are able to safely begin their project, domestic violence will continue and this team are determined to make a difference. I for one will be supporting them as I’m sure will others reading this blog post.
If you’d like to be part of this exciting project and would like more information about the auditions and the casting process, then get in touch with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact them on social media for more information. Auditions remain open until the 8th June.
If this isn’t for you, then have a think about supporting the project financially. The team would be grateful for any contribution, even if it’s the equivalent of your morning coffee, but there are rewards for larger contributions. Here’s the link: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/blackwidowsmusical
A donation of £20 or more which is the Black Widows Basic will get you an exclusive, limited edition Black Widows key-ring!
For £25 or more which places you on the Polly Tier, you will get an exclusive, limited edition t-shirt.
A donation of £35 or more will place you on the Trixie Tier and you will receive an exclusive keyring and a limited edition t-shirt.
The Jane Tier which you can access for £45 or more will reward you with the full trio of exclusive, limited edition Black Widows merch: mug, key-ring and t-shirt.
The Suzette Tier which is for those wishing to donate £90 or more will see you taking home the full trio of merch, plus a signed A3 copy of the Black Widows poster!
The Camilla Tier for those able to offer £150 or more gets you the full trio of merch, plus a signed A3 copy of the Black Widows poster, and a signed copy of the original cast album, when produced – limited numbers available!
The ultimate Black Widows Deluxe is mainly geared towards business and is offered to those donating £450 or more. This pledge propels the project forward and solidifies you as an official Black Widows sponsor!
In return, your logo and link would be put on to the official website; a thank you post on the social media pages to promote your business; your business flyers sent out to all who pledged in lower tiers; and rewards from all the other tiers.
All the best to the Black Widows team – please please keep in touch and let us know how the project is progressing.