A black and white photo of former residents and survivors Mary (left) and Rosie (right). Two white elderly women in their living room. They comfortably sit on armchairs and laugh.

 

Join the acting cast who recreated these remarkable voices depicted on film, talking with director Julie Mc, who describes the extraordinary seven-year journey of this documentary, exposing shocking stories that uncover unpalatable truths about the long-care system.

 

Julie McNamara, Vital Xposure’s Artistic Director, created The Knitting Circle in 2011, a theatre production based on the testimonies of people who survived the long care asylums closed in the 1980s. Each of the actors were matched with people who lived or worked inside long stay hospitals.

Voices from the Knitting Circle was created a few years later, a documentary film that follows the voices of some of the amazing people who entrusted us with their life stories. What reverberates is the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit, and the art of laughter amongst the tears.

Following a successful run at cinemas and film festivals, the documentary premiered online in autumn 2020 and is available to watch for free until Sunday 15 November via our YouTube channel

The discussion and live Q&A will be hosted on Zoom, on Thursday 12 November, at 5.30pm.

 

HOW TO JOIN

Please sign up via Eventbrite.

If you already registered on Eventbrite for the online premiere earlier this autumn, you do not need to do anything further. You will receive the event’s link directly to your inbox closer to the date.

The event will include British Sign Language interpretation and live captions.

 

 

DISCUSSION PANEL

Photo collage of the 3 actors and the director's portraits from the film. Each black and white portrait is in a circle, their positions alternate from top to bottom of the image, against a black background.

Photo collage of the 3 actors and the director’s portraits from the film. From left to right: Mandy Colleran, Deni Francis, Penelope Freeman and Julie McNamara

Julie McNamara, Director

Julie McNamara is Artistic Director of Vital Xposure, one of UK’s leading disability led touring theatre companies within Arts Council England’s national portfolio. She is a Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Victorian College of the Arts and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne.

As both an artist and activist, she is a leading voice in Disability Arts on international stages. Her work is driven by social justice with a life long preoccupation with creating platforms for excluded voices from the political periphery. Her particular interests are in discourses of madness and voices from locked-in spaces.

Penelope Freeman, Actor (playing Nan Sweeney)

Since graduating as an actor from LAMDA with their Spotlight Award for most promising actress, Penelope has pursued a lifelong and varied career across all genres.

Her stage work includes two seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and The Barbican, appearances in London’s West End including “The Mousetrap” and “Werewolves” and seasons with many repertory companies including Birmingham Rep, Stoke-on-Trent, Harrogate and The Globe Theatre Company in Warsaw in Poland.

Since the demise of the repertory system, she has committed to working for and supporting vibrant companies such as Vital Xposure with whom she has a long association.

 

Deni Francis, Actor 

Deni Francis is an actor, improviser, creative facilitator, writer, and activist.

Recent work before lockdown includes recording audio books, ‘Our House’ by Louise Candlish (ID Audio), and ‘The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die’ by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay (Heavy Entertainment), playing King James and Roger Casement in ‘Queer Lives at the Tower’, at the Tower of London, and smashing a double glazed window with an iron, for ‘Helen’, for Idle Women.

She is a contributing writer to ‘Building Children’s Resilience In The Face Of Parental Mental Illness’, to be published by Routledge, 2021.

Her chapter, Storytelling & drama : telling our stories, building resilience – Drama processes and techniques for empowerment.’ documents her experience over 20 years of working with drama in community mental health work with families.

Most recently she played Detective Shade for Vital Xposure and Dervish on the second stage R&D of White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels. Filmed on zoom in lockdown this Spring 2020.

She is proud to be a part of The Knitting Circle journey in it’s various iterations. From the intensive research and development stages, to the Soho theatre and on national tour, to conferences, sharing monologues, in Liverpool and Galway, and to the amazing documentary Voices from the Knitting Circle.

 

Penelope Freeman, Actor

Since graduating as an actor from LAMDA with their Spotlight Award for most promising actress, Penelope has pursued a lifelong and varied career across all genres.

Her stage work includes two seasons at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon and The Barbican, appearances in London’s West End including “The Mousetrap” and “Werewolves” and seasons with many repertory companies including Birmingham Rep, Stoke-on-Trent, Harrogate and The Globe Theatre Company in Warsaw in Poland.

As a television actor she has worked for most of the major TV companies and her appearances for BBC and ITV include “Red Dwarf”, “Wire In The Blood”, “Daziel and Pascoe” , “Doctors”, “Wild Things” and 2 seasons of the Carla Lane series “LUV”.

Since the demise of the repertory system, she has committed to working for and supporting vibrant companies such as Vital Xposure with whom she has a long association. In recent years she has collaborated and performed in their productions of The Knitting CircleThe Disappearance of Dorothy Lawrence, the award winning films Blue Pen and Voices From The Knitting Circle.

 

Mandy Colleran, Actor

Short biography coming soon.