‘Everyone’s a winner’: Reflecting on our partnership with Mothers’ Union

Damaris Media CEO Tim Waldron blogs about his time at the Mothers’ Union General Meeting in Edinburgh

We’re thrilled to have partnered with Mothers’ Union to spread the word about Victoria & Abdul, the historical drama still charming audiences in UK cinemas.

Companion Booklet cover (MU) Queen Victoria was the first Royal Patron of Mothers’ Union. The organisation believes in the power of relationships to bring down barriers – and Victoria & Abdul tells the story of the most unlikely friendship in history.

We worked with Mothers’ Union to create a special companion booklet offering a glimpse behind the scenes of the film, and a chance to reflect on themes of reconciliation and ‘welcoming the stranger’ – ideas close to the organisation’s heart.

Mothers’ Union is an international charity that aims to demonstrate the Christian faith in action through the transformation of communities worldwide. They work with people of all faiths and none in
83 countries to promote stable marriage, family life and the protection of children.

Download the companion booklet on the Mothers' Union website
Download the companion booklet on the Mothers’ Union website

Last weekend I was able to take a (pleasingly short) flight up from Southampton to Edinburgh, and join in with the Mothers’ Union General Meeting. This gathering, which takes place every year, is a day of fellowship, celebration and inspiration, welcoming members and non-members from across the UK. The theme this year was ‘Faith in Action’, featuring a keynote speech from Canon Sarah Snyder, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s top advisor.

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Damaris Media aims to build sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships with community groups, and it was fantastic to meet lots of people who had used and loved our Victoria & Abdul resources. The feedback we got from delegates was extremely positive and there was a real sense of buzz around the topic of our partnership, which was highlighted on the main stage as a great new venture for the Mothers’ Union team. People were impressed with the quality of the resources – and they loved the film.

‘We had a wonderful branch outing to see the film; Our members all thoroughly enjoyed it.’ – North Yorkshire branch

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I heard countless stories of groups seeing and enjoying the film together – there was even a group of delegates going to see the movie that evening in Edinburgh! Others had left their branches strict instructions to see the movie over the weekend so that they could use our Companion Booklet at next week’s branch meeting.

I left the gathering feeling hugely encouraged about the impact of what we do: our work with Mothers’ Union is a prime example of how our partnerships work. The film company covers the costs, Damaris Media works with the community group’s central body – and as a result, local groups get a valued opportunity. Everyone’s a winner!

Going Native

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Three countries. Three teenagers. One average, life-altering day.

Natives is a new play currently on at the Southwark Playhouse in London. We’re used to working with film companies, but we were intrigued when Boundless Theatre, the company behind Natives, asked us if we’d consider creating resources for school groups based on the play.

I loved Glenn Waldron’s script, which takes an empathic and generous stance towards its teen protagonists. It sensitively explores what it means to be a ‘digital native’ – the quest for popularity, the warped intimacy,  the intrusions of violence, the potential for real connection. There was plenty to bite into when it came to putting together this worksheet for GCSE and A-Level drama groups.

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A few of us from the Damaris Media team were lucky enough to see Natives in performance earlier this week. The production – which stars Ella Purnell, Fionn Whitehead and Manish Gandhi – has already been getting rave reviews from the likes of The Guardian, The Metro and Theatre Full Stop, and it definitely lives up to all of this hype.

The action plaScreen Shot 2017-04-04 at 15.24.41ys out in a small, intimate performance space, on a mostly bare stage which is illuminated by digital projections. It’s up to the three young leads to carry the story, which concerns three teenagers in different parts of the globe who must wrestle with the intersection between their digital lives and their ‘real’ ones. All three are excellent, but Purnell is the standout – recognisable from film roles in the likes of Never Let Me Go and Maleficent, she has a charismatic presence, funny, sharp and poignant by turns.

The 90-minute running time zips past, building to a powerful finale which posits a tentative hope for the future of the digital generation. That’s what’s so refreshing about Natives: it isn’t a critique of young people so much as the older generation who have bequeathed them a broken world.

‘Where are the grown-ups to do something, where are the grown-ups in this story?’

The play will hopefully have a long life both in performance (Boundless are planning to tour it) and in the classroom, where it could inspire teenagers to recognise the world-changing power they hold in their hands.

Find out more and book tickets

29 Mar – 22 Apr 2017  
By Glenn Waldron
Directed by Rob Drummer
At Southwark Playhouse