Mabel’s War: A Partnership between the Chester Grosvenor Museum, Cheshire Military Museum and Minerva Arts.
In January 2014, a brand new partnership sprang into action between two Chester Museums and Arts and Cultural organisation, Minerva Arts. The Mabel’s War project also involved work with West Cheshire College and Manley Primary School and is part of the wider ‘Great War Stories’ project, a Cheshire-wide HLF funded initiative to commemorate the First World War through the stories of people from Cheshire. This particular element was based around the story of Mabel Earp, a volunteer nurse who worked at the Oaklands Hospital at Preston Brook and Frodsham Auxiliary Hospital and collected poems, stories and pictures from the soldiers that she cared for.
Minerva Arts was brought on board to create a drama response to this unique material with Primary-age children. A new group was recruited through local press and school assemblies that met for the first time on the 18th January. The process lasted for ten weeks and saw the group grow from 12 to 18 young people. The process combined historical learning with developing drama skills through the use of primary source material throughout as well as a session from Museum staff at the start of the project. The children had the opportunity to learn about Mabel herself, the life of a soldier in the First World War and the world of a military hospital through drama workshops before taking ownership of the material by selecting the scenes and themes that they were most interested in pursuing in the creation of the final performance.
The final performance was shared with parents, friends, local leaders and even a relative of Mabel on the 29th March at St. Mary’s Centre, Chester.
So successful was the project, Minerva Arts has elected to keep the group going after the Easter break as a new Youth Theatre, MYT 7-11. This group will continue its link with the Military Museum by meeting there every Saturday in term-time starting from the 26th April.