The fascinating history of Lancaster’s maritime past is brought to life in audio dramas, films and artwork on a newly launched website.
Port Stories aims to increase awareness of the importance of Lancaster’s built heritage and museum collections at a time when the future of the county’s museums remains uncertain.
Led by The Dukes and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, through money raised by National Lottery players, Port Stories is the result of a four month community project and has also involved awardwinning writers and professional actors including Julie Hesmondalgh, last seen on television in Broadchurch.
The website also includes a wide range of content produced by nine community artists – from schoolgirls to pensioners – and an education pack for key stage 3 history students produced with the help of Central Lancaster High School.
Among the topics covered are Lancaster’s involvement in the slave trade, the lives of young women in 18th Century Lancaster, the story of Gillows furniture makers, how ships got their names, an artist’s perspective on Georgian Lancaster and what life was like for deaf people in this period.
We continue our pioneering work with LDHAS (Lancaster District Homeless Action Service) by creating and supporting a theatre group made up of people with experiences of street homelessness. In December 2015 they performed an adaptation of Cinderella entitled Cinderfella in The Round and are currently developing a piece entitled After The Flood;
AFTER THE FLOOD - Drama Sees Storm Memories Flooding Back
“The floods brought everybody to the same level, homeless or not”.
When the lights went out all over Lancaster in December following Storm Desmond, the atrocious weather conditions put homeless people on an equal footing with others, as thousands faced the kind of adversity and challenges they tackle on a daily basis.
These experiences were reflected in After the Floods, an original production by Alternative Outcomes, a theatre company formed at The Dukes in 2013 by a group who access Lancaster District Homeless Action Service, now funded by an Arts Council England National Lottery grant.
With familiarity of day-to-day hardships, the group found themselves confidently coping with the challenges of the floods while providing support and assistance to others. During the following week’s fallout, they also noticed a change in attitudes as they became a part of the community through their shared experiences.
The audience were invited into blacked out tents - inspired by the story of one performer’s journey after waking in the middle of the night to find the river had risen around his tent whilst camped on the banks of the Lune.
Inside, an immersive installation and performance piece explored all the company’s extraordinary accounts of those 48 hours in December 2015, along with testimony from a range of key community sources including body-cam footage from Officer Andy Taylor on duty the night the floods hit, and radio broadcasts from Bay Radio’s ‘Action Desk’ rolling news, which provided a lifeline and information hub for 189,000 listeners.
Performances toured homeless centres across the North West, engaging secondary school pupils and adults with experience of street homelessness in workshops exploring the show’s creation and themes.
After the Floods kicked off a year-long programme at The Dukes to engage a diverse cross-section of Lancaster’s community in the creation of original work about the floods’ impact.
The Dukes outreach work includes a range of collaborations with community partners and groups including:
Youth Offending Service
Gypsy Roma Traveller community
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
Ethnic Minority Support Agencies
Adults with experience of street homelessness (Alternative Outcomes with LDHAS)