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Gwenda's Garage.

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In November 2023, Out of the Archive produced two script-in-hand performances of Gwenda’s Garage at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. This ‘exuberant, witty celebration of lesbian energy and determination’ sold out immediately and received an exceptional audience response. 

Gwenda's garage was a real place. The project used interviews with the surviving members and customers of Gwenda’s Garage to capture the hidden stories of the working women who trained there and empowered themselves and a whole generation of South Yorkshire women. 

Alongside the production, we created an exhibition and a public workshop to memorialise Gwenda’s Garage coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the repeal of Section 28 in England. The exhibition was seen by an amazing 130 000 people. 

The project was funded by Historic England.

Didn’t manage to see it? Watch this space…

Synopsis.

1980s Thatcher’s Britain: a period of passionate political protest; feminist activism at its zaniest, where anything might happen and usually does.

 

Sheffield: the ‘People’s Republic of South Yorkshire’ and 'Lesbian Capital of the North'.

 

Three mechanics (Carol, Bev and Terry), unable to get work, set up their own garage in a run-down area of the city, naming it after Gwenda Stewart, a pioneering racing driver, employing an apprentice, affectionally called Dipstick.

 

The government imposes a new law, Section 28, preventing the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities and schools. The mechanics campaign against it, joined by Feona, a teacher, regular Gwenda’s customer, and newbie to both Sheffield and to feminism. There are life-changing consequences for the women and their families.

 

This is a call to arms, fired by fun, friendship, above all an affirming belief in the power of collective action.

Team

Production Team
Cast
Band

Writer - Nicky Hallett

Music and Lyrics - Val Regan

Director - Jelena Budimir

Dramaturg - Jelena Budimir

Designer - Becky Graham

Project Manager - Becky Graham

Media and Comms - Kath Harding

Oral History Interviews - Sandra Baker-Donnelly

Bev - Nancy Brabin-Platt


Carol - Eva Scott


Terry - Ellena Vincent


Dipstick - Lucy Mackay


Newbie - Georgina Coram


Vicar/Police/Delivery - Liz Kitchen

Musical Director - Val Regan


Bass Guitar - Paul Chamberlain


Keyboard - Richard Body


Drums - Liz Kitchen


Sax - Becky Eden Green

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