Stellar Quines

Case study

Stellar Quines is an intersectional feminist theatre company based in Scotland. We believe theatre is a force for change, for collaborating with others and building inclusive coalitions. We create shows, work with communities and provide opportunities for career development for theatre professionals all with the aim of creating greater gender equality.

Since the company’s founding over 25 years ago, Stellar Quines has held a unique position in Scotland’s theatre scene with a reputation for excellence in contemporary theatre. Our work has evolved in that time to include a strong ethos for collaborative participatory theatre work, an activism strand to create change in the theatre industry and beyond and we are now focusing on delivering on both our social justice and artistic aims through all our work.

Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Our programmes carve out space where we can amplify voices that might not otherwise be heard. In our engagement projects we build meaningful, long term relationships with communities where we offer participatory arts activities which are always co-designed with participants, ensuring ownership and agency. We work in collaboration and co-production with community organisations so that our work connects to other services and support for participants in a sustainable way.

In May and June of 2021, Stellar Quines worked in partnership with two community organisations based in North Edinburgh; SHE Scotland, who support, inspire, empower and engage girls and women and Stepping Stones who support young parent families and pregnant women. With these organisations we brought together a group of women and girls aged between 14-26 to explore their experiences of the pandemic through theatre-making.

Funded by Inspiring Scotland, a series of creative workshops was developed to enable the young women to make new friends, build their confidence and address their emotional resilience, after a year of living through a pandemic, in a safe and supportive environment.

Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

The workshops allowed them to be reflective whilst developing skills through writing, costume-making, directing and storytelling. The product of their work was to work with professional videographer Jassy Earl to create a short film, Masquerade, shot on location in Muirhouse. The final film featured performances from the participants to make a poignant and witty expression of their collective experiences.

Credit: Jassy Earl

‘During this project I have felt more confident, more free to do something fun and generally so much more positive. This has been life-changing.’

The project built successful friendships between the women and girls and strengthened the bonds between the partner organisations coalescing into a cohesive group keen to make further work and continue to develop their skills and networks.

As theatre-makers, our work is in rooted in collaboration and co-design, so after discussion with the participants and the partner organisations to develop the next iteration of this project, we were successful in applying for additional funding from Inspiring Scotland to continue to strengthen and deliver a second phase of the project.

Key developments are:

  • a longer project period, allowing for the full development of relationships with/within the group
  • the provision of dedicated reflection time, supported by a facilitator, for participants to embed their learning
  • the provision of on-site childcare, to improve access and inclusion
  • the addition of more informal, voluntary, online wellbeing sessions
  • a focus on upskilling the partner organisations support workers with the creative skills and knowledge sharing to be used in other settings.

‘I would love to do something like this again, especially after lockdown over the past year, I think your confidence drops massively…this has helped me build on skills I never knew I had’

Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

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