Dr Emily Ward delivers school workshops for collaborative ‘Marie In The Margins’ project

31 May 2022

The project is a collaboration between ExploreTheArch Theatre Company, primary schools, Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, historians and other local heritage sites to provide a series of educational workshops in and around the Hastings area.


Marie In The Margins is an exciting new educational workshop programme created to empower primary-aged children in Sussex to connect to their national, regional and local heritage. The project explores both medieval and modern history through interactive musical, visual and written explorations of the cultural history of women and young people.

The workshops take inspiration from Britain's earliest known female author of ‘lai’ adventure stories. Marie de France’s tales are a window into a hidden history of working women and youth culture in the hundred years after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Marie's colourful heroes include marginalised young adults seeking a life that is meaningful. As the medieval characters seek to be true to themselves they raise themes and topics which resonate with modern-day society, including bullying, homophobia, gender fluidity, female decision-making and women as writers.

Director Gail Borrow of ExploreTheArch theatre company secured an Arts Council England project grant to develop a video installation resource to accompany the workshops. The project consequently secured a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which has enabled Dr Ward and others to expand the scope of the project. 

The first workshops ran from 9th-13th May 2022, and workshops will run throughout the summer. The project has received some very positive feedback from teachers: 

"Times like these make me very happy to be a teacher. Children loved it. Great to have hands on experience."
"We felt very welcome. The activities were very engaging. A lot of learning has happened today."
"A very engaging, hands on experience that the children could connect to their current learning."
“"Times like these make me very happy to be a teacher. Children loved it. Great to have hands on experience."


Workshop group photo

Image (immediately above): Group photo of the Marie in the Margins project team at the launch of the permanent video installation at Battle Abbey (Photo Credit: Alexander Brattell).

Image (article feature image): Photo of Dr Emily Ward running her workshop session. This session placed the medieval history the children are studying at school – 1066 and the Battle of Hastings – within a wider historical context, interweaving the themes of migration, women and children in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Dr Ward got the children to be ‘history detectives’ by helping her find different pieces of evidence from primary sources to support the stories she was telling them.