Courtyard to show mother-and-baby story online

Published: 17 February 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

“Profoundly moving project”: Hush Now

The Courtyard Hereford is to première online Hush Now which aims to “give voice and visibility to the unmarried women who experienced unexpected pregnancies and, consequently, were silenced, stigmatised, and hidden away in mother-and-baby homes”.

Hush Now began life as a site-specific production across nine locations in Hereford in 2019. It has now been adapted to be filmed live on stage and produced as a digital film.

Elizabeth Semper-O’Keefe was commissioned by Feral Productions to trawl through archives at Hereford Archive and Record Centre. She uncovered a vast array of documents and records relating to the women who passed through Herefordshire’s mother-and-baby homes.

Feral’s artistic director Estelle van Warmelo collaborated with Ledbury poet Sara-Jane Arbury to turn the archival research into a series of nine poems. They were adapted by van Warmelo and transformed into songs by musician and performer Olivia Preye.

Arbury said, “Hush Now is one of the most interesting and profoundly moving projects I’ve ever done. The hidden history of mother-and-baby homes in Herefordshire has been a revelation.

“I feel a tremendous responsibility in bringing some of the stories to light and giving these women and girls voices for us to hear today. The whole process has inspired me in so many ways.”

Hush Now will première on Saturday 13 March at 7PM and will be available on demand until Saturday 20 March. Tickets are available at The Courtyard web site.