(A word of warning: if you’ve never watched Mean Girls, then this review may not make much sense to you.)
Last month, I interviewed Megan Griffith – founder of Girl Gang Manchester – about their first event, an immersive film screening of Mean Girls. This weekend, Girl Gang hosted their very own Spring Fling at the Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats and I was lucky enough to go along.
My first stop was browsing the independent female makers’ market and its stalls full of quirky, beautifully made items – from confidence-boosting postcards and colouring books, to vintage clothing and merchandise decorated with Mean Girls quotes (my friend had her eye on the “you smell like a baby prostitute” make up bag). As well as these traders, there was a veggie salad bar and an actual bar offering themed cocktails. Unfortunately, I’m off alcohol for Lent, or I would have ordered a Silver Lexus (rum, lime, mint and soda).
Next I headed for one of the limited capacity workshops, “That’s Just Like The Rules of Feminism.” I admit to feeling a bit nervous about being part of a poetry session, but it was relaxed and fun from the word go. All the participants helped to compile a list of rules that restrict women in our society, followed by a list of new feminist rules – we then used these lists to compose our own poems in free writing (with no pressure to share them out loud at the end!)
The atmosphere amongst the workshop group was really friendly and inclusive – just as it was for the whole night. Walking around, I saw and overheard loads of girls chatting, laughing and complimenting each other.
In amongst the market stalls, there were also loads of drop in workshops. My friends and I had a go at some maths puzzles, made bath salts and body scrubs in “Moderately Priced Soaps Are My Calling,” posed for prom-style photos and decorated cookies with oodles of sweets, icing, rainbows and smiles. My pot of peppermint body scrub and Love Heart-encrusted cookie (see below) set me back a grand total of £1, and sitting round big tables with other girls making things together really fostered a sisterhood spirit.
Next came the organised part of the night – everyone was ushered into the main performance space, which like the market was beautifully decorated with fairy lights, balloons, pom poms and disco balls.A fiendishly difficult Mean Girls quiz was kept entertaining by a comical quiz master – this was followed by a well-written ode to the film and an introduction to Girl Gang Manchester by Megan Griffith. Either side of the actual screening was “Personally Victimised By Regina George,” a live performance directed and devised by Megan. With a script comprised of rearranged lines from the film, the cast moved through the space and interacted with the audience – candy cane grams written during the night were handed out, and cue cards were used to prompt our responses (“your mom’s chest hair!”) Whilst these sketches were funny tributes and a good warm-up before the film screening, returning to them afterwards was a rather abrupt change in mood – repeating parts of the film also lessened the impact of the screening.
This minor criticism aside, Girl Gang Manchester’s first event has clearly been a resounding success. With an enthusastic crowd, a huge array of activities, awesome goody bags and the aim of bringing women together achieved, Mean Girls was like a children’s birthday party for grown ups. And may I say, it was totally fetch.