Special performance for centenary

WORDS and music will be used to reflect the ten decades of the WI in a special performance for West Sussex.

Writer Charlie Olsen and composer Aedan Kerney with the West Sussex Federation Choir at rehearsals
Writer Charlie Olsen and composer Aedan Kerney with the West Sussex Federation Choir at rehearsals

The Sleeping Giant has been put together for the West Sussex Federation to celebrate the WI’s centenary.

Written by Charlie Olsen and conducted by Aedan Kerney, it celebrates the massive influence the WI has had on the social and non-party political position of women in the past 100 years.

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Charlie said: “Through music, words and images, The Sleeping Giant traces the history of a group of women in a fictional rural community in Sussex.

“Many of the events and personalities they encounter are real, but they are ‘Everywoman’ - you may feel that you know them, they could be your grandmother, your mother.

“They speak for every woman who has ever laughed or wept and found strength in the support of friends. The WI provides them with friendship, opportunities and ultimately the power to influence real change to benefit the whole of society.”

She said the title came from her research into the WI and finding it had been referred to as The Sleeping Giant because of its many successful campaigns for a wide variety of causes.

“I took the century and looked at key moments for women throughout it,” she added. “I created a fictional group of archetypal women and wrote scenes about things like evacuees, the new currency in 1971 and when Betty Boothroyd became the first woman Speaker of the House of Commons in 1992.

“Readings and monologues are integrated with the scenes and songs, creating something between an old-fashioned variety show and modern multimedia show.

“It tells the story in a fairly logical way, using fact and fiction, that will appeal to everybody, not just the WI.”

Margaret Goodman, vice-chairman of the committee of the federation’s combined arts group, said the idea came about through the group and a choir was formed as a result.

The Sleeping Giant, featuring the West Sussex Federation choir, will perform at the Assembly Hall in Worthing on Saturday, September 12, from 7pm to 9.30pm. Tickets £12.50 from 01273 494190, 01243 605276 or 01903 767757.

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