Professor Anna Birch FRSA has lived in Stoke Newington for over 30 years, in the late 1990’s she learnt that Mary Wollstonecraft lived and worked on Newington Green in the 18th century. As a theatre, director, researcher and activist she has made work to celebrate both the life and legacy of Wollstonecraft. She writes about her ‘living monuments’ practice and has curated exhibitions, published books, screened films inside and outside, commissioned writers and artists and collaborated with Hackney Museum, Walking Women, Clissold House, N16, Portavillion, Gillett Square, Rio Cinema, Glasgow Women’s Library, New Unity @Newington Green, Mildmay Community Centre, Newington Green Action Group, Imece Women’s Centre, Air Gallery, NYC, Queen Mary University and GraceGraceGrace plus countless creatives to celebrate our extraordinary transhistorical neighbour.
Anna is a founder member of the Mary on the Green Campaign maryonthegreen.org and a member of the Centenary Action Group (CAG) Chaired by Dr Helen Pankhurst
On Sunday 13th May her Scottish suffrage film MARCH (30mins) screens in London: http://www.arthousecrouchend.co.uk/programme/?programme_id=4595742
She is delighted to be invited to Chair this Stoke Newington Lit Fest event: www.stokenewingtonliteraryfestival.com
Join artist Tamsyn Challenger, academic Dr. Hannah Dawson and director and activist Anna Birch to discuss the pioneering spirit of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97). How has her influence shaped their professional lives and does her example as writer, philosopher and human rights activist still resonate in this centenary year for women’s suffrage? Includes performances by artists Rachael House and Jemima Burrill.
Part of ‘Wollstonecraft Presents’, a new arts commissioning platform inspired by the life and work of Mary Wollstonecraft – http://www.wollstonecraftpresents.com
NEWS FLASH: In October 2017 Anna is invited keynote and facilitator for the AHRC Research Network Memory, Music and Movement, Cape Breton University, Canada. Her piece ‘Mary Wollstonecraft Trail Blazer to Parliament ‘ will be published in Women’s Voices and Parliament (eds) John Vice (Hansard, House of Lords) and Maggie Inchley (2018). She was keynote and facilitator for Recovering Women’s Past: New Epistemologies, New Ventures University of Edinburgh, Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities (IASH) and Institut Francais Ecosse (2016) and for International Women’s Day, March 2017 she presented ‘The Wollstonecraft Live Experience!’ at Mary Wollstonecraft: Life work and Legacy conference University of Hull and Hull City of Culture.
Anna’s expertise is in combining her scholarly research and professional expertise as a theatre and film director. Moving beyond the theatre building she has created a ‘living monuments’ dramaturgical method to both search out and reveal hidden and often neglected feminist biographies and histories. She researched her method through site-specific performance and films about the life of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) to show how this use of multimedia provides an essential link to the performativity of feminist achievements through history. She applies this template to her current research focus on women’s suffrage drama: ‘Staging Suffragettes’ with Professor Katharine Cockin (University of Hull, UK) https://vimeo.com/99813842. Her large-scale public performance March of Women (2015) and the short film MARCH (37 minutes) https://vimeo.com/149630321 pw: March documents this public facing and socially engaged work.
She is co-editor, with Professor Joanne Tompkins, of Performing Site-Specific Theatre: Politics, Place, Practice (2012), where the chapter ‘Repetition and performativity: site-specific performance and film as living monument’ sets out this practice research case study. She guest-edited an issue of Contemporary Theatre Review; also with Tompkins, on ‘Site-Specificity and Mobility’ (2012). As co-convener of the Performance as Research Working Group (International Federation of Theatre Research, 2010-2013) she co-edited with Bruce Barton and Melanie Dreyer-Lude of Mediating Practice(s): Performance as Research and/in/through Mediation, Experiments and Intensities Series Volume 3, Winchester University Press, www.experimentsandintensities.com ISBN 978-1-906113-12-4. She is co- editor with Professor Katharine Cockin Performance-Research-History: Pageants and Pioneers from Hrotsvit to Women’s Suffrage Drama (pending).
MARCH (2016) was screened at the House of Commons for Women’s History Month and UTOPIA festival, Somerset House, London, UK http://www.walkingartistsnetwork.org/walking-women-at-somerset-house/
The Women’s History network annual Community History Project prize (sponsored by The History Press) Highly Commended March of Women http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/articles/the-2016-womens-history-network-community-prize-winners/2016
Artistic Director Fragments & Monuments performance and film company www.fragmentsandmonuments.com
Anna’s profile Practice Research
@anna_birch1 #marchofwomen Instagram annabirch1
Photograph credit Cora Ogborn James http://www.corajames.co.uk
A N N A B I R C H Director and Producer CV (August 2017)
Anna’s first productions of plays by April de Angelis and Marina Carr made her early career in developing, directing and producing new writing notable. She trained as a director with Pascal Lecoq, Laboratory of Movement studying space and rhythm through scenography, Nancy Duguid, Jules Wright and Max Stafford-Clark and was the first winner of the Gerald Chapman Award at the Royal Court Theatre, London, UK.
MARCH documentary film (running time 30 mins).
Film-maker: Marissa Keating
Artistic Director Anna Birch
March of Women large scale public art and performance project co-produced by Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow Women’s Library and Fragments & Monuments performance and film company.
Inaugural Mary Wollstonecraft Annual Lecture, invited presenter with Caitlin Moran and Suzanne Moore, Stoke Newington Literary Festival, Assembly Rooms, London N16.
A Pageant of Great Women DVD, Fragments & Monuments ISBN 978-0-9568008-1-7. Centenary conference and celebrations marking the founding of the Pioneer Players theatre society, University of Hull, Hull, UK.
Mary on the Green: Celebrating Mary Wollstonecraft, participatory event with artist Taey Iohe, The Gallery, Stoke Newington Literary Festival, Stoke Newington Public Library, London N16
Liz and Di by Di Sherlock, documentary screening, London College of Fashion, London, UK.
Wollstonecraft Live! Portavillion Inside / Outside Cinema – specially curated projection for pre-Olympic Cultural Event, Gillett Square, East London, UK.
Liz and Di by Di Sherlock, Guest Director (adapted by Anna Birch) for BA (Hons) Costume, Make – Up and Technical Effects, London College of Fashion, Cochrane Theatre, London, UK.
Fragments & Monuments films on www.youtube.com .
Hamlet, Guest Director site-specific, Shoreditch Town Hall for Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, UK.
The Wollstonecraft Live Experience! outdoor documentary film screening and live music picnic, Newington Green, Islington, London, UK.
Sighting / Citing History through Performance: The Wollstonecraft Live Experience! curated installation Modes of Spectating Conference Ruskin Gallery, Anglia University, UK.
Wollstonecraft Live! a multimedia history of Mary Wollstonecraft Britain’s first feminist. A.I.R. Gallery, New York, USA.
What is She? by Charlotte Smith (18th century writer) Guest Director, The Capital Centre, Royal Shakespeare Company, international conference on the playwright, Warwick University, Warwick, UK.
Wollstonecraft Live! written by Kaethe Fine, conceived by Anna Birch and Kaethe Fine, multimedia, site-specific performance in Unitarian Chapel and on Newington Green, Islington, London, UK.
Di’s Midsummer Night Party, documentary screening, Cochrane Theatre, Royal College of Art and OMSK, London, UK.
Celebrate Jeanetta Cochrane! Keyworx presentation at Theatre, Gender and Beyond, Cochrane Theatre, London, UK.
Birch, A, Gender and Performance Pack: Education pack for Sphinx Theatre Company, London, UK.
Di’s Midsummer Night Party outdoor screening of site-specific performance documentary, Stoke Newington Festival. Directors of Photography: Lucy Bristow and Matt Fox, Clissold House, Stoke Newington, London N16, UK.
Di’s Midsummer Night Party, exterior and interior site-specific performance, Stoke Newington Festival, Scenographer Madelon Schwirtz, Choreographer Sheila Ghelani, Clissold House, Stoke Newington, London N16, UK.