GAZE at Northern Stage

Published: 4 November 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan


GAZE, a new play about women’s voices, comes to Northern Stage, following the stories of Alice Guy Blaché, the first real-life female filmmaker, and Rose, a modern-day film student.

Alice is desperate for artistic freedom as her film career is burgeoning in the late 19th century, but faces countless barriers and betrayal. Rose, a modern-day film student, is grappling with her mental health in her battle to find a sense of purpose in her life. Although worlds and centuries apart, these women rebel against the difficulties that women have always come up against; through their love of film they fight to access power, autonomy and creative freedom.

Disabled writer S L Page is passionate about film and film history. While researching in 2017, she came across Alice Guy Blaché. She had never heard of her, despite the fact that she was the first woman to direct a film, and the first person to direct a film with a narrative (The Fairy of the Cabbages, 1896). GAZE exists to spread the word of Alice’s untold story. Steeped in film history, feminism and addressing mental health, it is inspired by an ambition to write about women that might otherwise be left out of the traditional history books.

GAZE has been supported through three periods of research and development by Arts Council England and the writer is currently being supported by Northern Stage’s Beyond Programme. This time has been spent working with Director of Development Karen Traynor to develop the script, engaging with a dramaturg, sound designer, and testing out ideas with live and digital audiences.

Tilly Branson directs Kitty Randle, Esme Sears, Christina Berriman Dawson and Alex Tahnée, with Hope Thain as assistant director, Eleanor Field as set and costume designer and Louise Gregory as production manager and sound and lighting designer. The filmmaker is Rachel Bunce.

GAZE runs in Stage 3 at Northern Stage at 2:00 and 7:00 on Thursday 25 November and tickets are £10.