Girl Gang Manchester immersive celebration of the 90’s slacker gal classic ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION heads to The Lowry’s Week 53 Festival this weekend celebrating lifelong friendships, repairing youthful wounds and reminding us all that it’s OK to be awesomely average.

Using decor, performers, workshops, speakers, participation, party bags, dressing up, dancing and much much more,  Girl Gang create fun, meaningful, accessible events encouraging creativity, collaboration, confidence and community.

Ahead of their performance at Week 53 Festival, Lucy Moore caught up with Meghan Marie Griffith to chat about the project and the inspiration behind this innovative event.

Frankly My Dear UK (FMD): Could you explain the project?

Meghan Marie Griffith (MMG): Girl Gang Manchester is a collective of female artists, activists, academics and party instigators. We put on a range of events, anything from immersive film screenings, exhibitions, creative club nights, workshops, anything you can think of really. Our event for Week 53 this year is an immersive film screening of “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.” This includes themed workshops on topics from the film, for example nurturing lifelong friendships, not comparing yourself to other people, dance workshops, customisation, friendship bracelets, ll that srt of thing. We’ve also fully transformed backstage at the Lyric Theatre into this 90s paradise, there’s party bags with mix CD’s and Girl Gang merch, there are roaming performers, there’s an academic speaker… we’ve also got immersive elements from the film such as an interactive yearbook and fortune tellers, so loads of things happening! I think there’s 37 women involved, and its been a year in the making and it’s our most ambitious project to date, so we’re all really excited.

FMD: What is “Girl Gang” and what do you hope to achieve?

MMG: I think with this event we are all about bringing people together for really live experiences. Our core aims are creativity, collaboration, community and connection. All of our events try to bring people together in a creative way, the concept is that everyone’s an artist and [people are encouraged to try different things and even if you’re bit rubbish at something just give it a go, and it’s nice how you can connect with people in a really authentic way when you let your guard down, so I think our mentality is trying to get people to push themselves beyond their usual boundaries, by creating an atmosphere that is so silly and welcoming and inclusive and fun! We’re very inspired by teen culture and the intensity of the relationships we had then, so a lot of our events can feel quite “teenagery”, but our core audience is kind of early twenties to late thirties, but we definitely get people outside of that. Our organisation is all about empowering women and encouraging them to be leaders, call out everyday injustices and overall find their own agency. I guess it’s a kind of gateway to feminism for a lot of people, for example people wo wouldn’t necessarily see a feminist event on facebook and click attending. We don’t try and hide the fact we’re a feminist company, but it’s more like “come and have loads of fun with us and we’ll talk about some serious stuff as well.”

FMD: What’s your role within the company?

MMG: So I’m the artistic director and executive producer, so lots of connecting all the different people and my eye on all the plates spinning, but I also get the luxury of deciding what we’re doing next.

FMD: What inspired this particular event?

MMG: So the theme for Week 53 this year is “Coming Of Age”, so The Lowry got in touch about organising an event. We got back to them with this whole list of films that we loved and they gave us a list of films that they loved, and Romy and Michele just seemed to be the favourite. At first I wasn’t sure if it fit “Coming Of Age” but I think it’s the fact that you’ve been out of school for ten years and it’s measuring yourself against the past and thinking that life isn’t what I expected it to be, or wondering what everyone else is doing, “am I a real adult yet?” and all those insecurities. The film exists in the eighties when they’re at school and in the nineties when they’re older, so I thought it was this really playful way to look at it. It’s less about “what have you achieved? Are you bossing your career?” and more about “I’ve got this really amazing best friend and thats a big part of who I am.”

FMD: If you wanted to persuade someone to come and get involved, what would you say?

MMG: I can’t imagine you not having fun! There’s something for everyone. The thing about our events that we’re most proud of is that people come on their own, and people come with friends, but everyone seems to have an equally nice time, and everyone always talks to strangers, the atmosphere is just something you can’t quite describe until you’re there. It’s just open, fun, welcoming and celebratory and I think it’s because all our events are made by volunteers through creative passion and effort, and there’s always so much love that goes into everything.