Lights Up Podcast & Website

Lights Up is our living history project documenting the influential and inspiring women who have played a leading role in the theatre industry of the East Midlands and beyond.

Lights Up title graphic

Visit the website here

We set out to create something that would help young people in our region build cultural knowledge of where they live, that would inspire them to pursue careers in the arts, and to better record womens’ achievement in history so that the next generation of artistic leaders have tangible access to success stories.

All the interviews were conducted by a group of young women aged 16 to 19 who received training in photography, film and oral history capture delivered by an all-female team of practitioners.

The project was originally conceived to be a physical touring exhibition visiting theatres, museums, libraries, communities and arts spaces. We recorded the last of the interviews on the 12th March 2020 – we all know what happened next. We were faced with the same questions and uncertainties as every other cultural organisation in the country whose operational model was based on live, in-person activity.

Having to adapt the project has been challenging but terrifically rewarding, and in fact, this forced change has allowed us to engage with a wider range of people. We are immensely proud of what Lights Up has achieved and stands for, and are thankful to everyone who took part and remained patient as we worked our way through creating our first podcast series.

The women we interviewed are all pioneers, game changers and have made a real, lasting and tangible difference to the world of theatre. The honest conversations explore the individual experiences of each woman bringing to light: first memories of theatre and how their background informs their work; cutting their teeth and the ‘big breaks’; coping with challenges and setbacks and offering practical advice to the next generation.

On the site you will find 9 episode pages, one for each interviwee, containing

  • The Interview – available to subscribe and listen to as a podcast, watch as a filmed interview or read as a transcript.
  • Photographs and other ephemera from each woman’s personal collection
  • A portrait photograph captured by the young people on the project and displayed aside a childhood photograph

You can also watch a documentary film about the making of the project, read more about the ideas underpinning it and enjoy a three -minute compilation of the interviews.

Lights Up is a Fifth Word project in partnership with Derby City Libraries, with support from Derby Theatre and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

It's always helpful for us to receive feedback so if you do have a look we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Email us at
leave a review on your favourite podcast platform
Connect via twitter @fifthword #LightsUp and please share the site link

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