By Amy Cassidy
When the inspiring become inspired: Performance students at UWS took centre stage at the Inspiring Women Event last week to perform a thought-provoking contemporary piece about Brexit, in front of an audience that included Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and keynote speaker at the event.
Shona told her audience when she started to speak that she was “blown away” by the performance that took place in the street area of UWS’ new Lanarkshire campus.
And when one performer asked Shona for advice in working in the creative industries, her immediate reply was “It should be me seeking advice from you after that performance!”
Emma Stoddart, Sophie Whoriskey, Eva Hunter and Aiesha Marr created a piece of theatre that was socially engaging to kickstart their theatre company, “The Yellow Ghost Gals”.
Sophie Whoriskey said after the performance: “The message of the Yellow Ghost Gals’ performance was basically to show audience members that four women could come together to create a very political piece around the theme of Brexit. We wanted to show the serious, dramatic and negative effects that Brexit is having on us as a culture, but then also to show the comedy aspect of it as well.”
Shona McCarthy’s passion for art and culture filled the lecture hall as she described how it was her only solitude growing up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Since graduating with a Film and Media degree from Ulster University, she has gone on to lead various projects including Cinemagic: Belfast’s International Film Festival for Young People, The Foyle Film Festival and led Derry/Londonderry’s bid to become the European City of Culture in 2013, the most peaceful year the city has seen.
Shona McCarthy applauded Scotland for being “ahead of the game” in the creative arts industry.
Upon taking position as CEO of the Edinburgh Fringe – the world’s largest arts festival – in 2016, she told her audience: “I wouldn’t have been interested in any other festival job.”
She proudly described how the festival is accessible to performers from all backgrounds and her advice to the performance students at the event: “Don’t let money and lack of resources be a barrier. Find a way.”
The Inspiring Women lecture series began in 2013 and is an idea proposed by Principal and Vice Chancellor of UWS Professor Craig Mahoney and is currently organised by Linda Aitken.
Presently, the UWS staff body is 55% female; students 60% however Professor Mahoney felt there was no visible platform to celebrate the success of women within the university, and so the lecture series has enabled women to share their stories and showcase the opportunities that the university provides.
Linda Aitken said:: “The Inspiring Women Lecture series has endeavoured to bring that celebration to the fore, and to shine a light on what success and inspiration means and what they can look like. To dream, to believe and to achieve.”
Average audience numbers have quadrupled over the past eight months says Linda, as it continues to gain momentum and support from local communities and recently securing sponsorship with akp Scotland Limited has notably benefitted the development of the lecture series, along with delivering the “game changing” brand new £110 million Lanarkshire campus, where the event was held.
The next Inspiring Women Event will take place on February 13, 2019 at the Paisley campus, with Professor Sheila Rowan, Chief Scientific Advisor for Scotland as the keynote speaker.
For more information: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-uws-super-science-festival-tickets-51324173986