Announcing ‘Perspectives’: First Draft at the People’s History Museum

Member of the First Draft team, Harry Jelley, spills the beans about our very exciting one-off event this spring…

At the moment here at First Draft, we seem to be specialising in the special. We started the year with Jez Hewes’ audio prompt, our next prompt is a collection of social history archive audio from Archives + at Central Library, and now we’re announcing our next special First Draft takeover!

With our Perspectives event on Monday 16 May, First Draft are taking over Manchester’s wonderful People’s History Museum – inviting some of our favourite Manchester poets, story tellers, musicians and other performers to create new work inspired by their current Grafters exhibition. Grafters is an exhibition curated by Ian Beesley, with new poems by Ian MacMillan, that looks at how photography has captured the industrial revolution and empowered workers.


Richard Lomax performing at VAULTS at The John Ryland’s Library last year

In the spirit of Ian MacMillan‘s poetic interpretation throughout the exhibition, we have invited some of our favourite performers from across Manchester to create something new and special for an evening that promises to be one of our best yet! As alway, the wonderful performers that we have lined up (which we’ll announce shortly) will be creating unique, entertaining and powerful responses, this time to the photographs in the exhibition which give us a captured glimpse into many unknown lives. It’s a First Draft performers gold mine!

When I first walked round the Grafters exhibition, I was amazed at how these photographs of working people, often in the middle of their day-to-day activity, provoked more questions than they answered. I would look into the eyes of the people depicted and think… ‘but who are you?’. I could stitch on some sort of story that worked in my head but there’s no way of knowing for certain. Ian Beesley’s curation is eclectic and powerful. The functional images of factory staff’s bodies being used as  reference for the size of machines (and how the smallest worker would be used to make them seem more impressive…) are next to nineteenth century mugshots and the politically motivated social realist photography. I found myself snagged on a single photograph for minutes and minutes, slowly eking what about this particular portrait made it so affecting.


Nija Dalal-Small reading at our Christmas event with The Real Story

To round off the evening, we’re also planning to have a couple of games for our audience members to get involved with, and we’ll be filling the Engine Hall of the People’s History Museum with our trademarked (probably) First Draft atmosphere of entertaining chaos and good times.

See you all there!

Other bits

Save the date! Join us for Perspectives a bit earlier than usual from 6pm at the People’s History Museum on Monday 16 May

Before that, don’t forget to grace us with your presence in April for our thrilling (and FREE!) Voices event inspired by audio tracks gifted to us by the brilliant folk at Archives +

Take a look at our call-out for creative responses to our playlist of sound archives. Have a listen, submit yours and we’ll publish it on our blog!


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