In autumn 2019  we undertook a research  and development period of White Pariahs, unearthing the hidden stories of white working class women who ‘crossed the line’, and fell in love with, or married Black men. The women risked hostility from wider society and often from those closest to them, to defy convention, cross the colour-line and marry men from the colonies. These ‘White Pariahs’ of the 50s, 60s and 70s demonstrated rebellion, defiance and courage in the face of racism and class and gender prejudice.

A new thrilling collaboration with Dervish Productions, that has brought together two creative forces to make this ground breaking work, Hassan Mahamdallie (Writer / Dervish’s Artistic Director) and Julie McNamara (Writer / Vital Xposure’s Artistic Director).

Hassan and Julie collected testimonies from mothers, partners, fathers, husbands, wives and children – all of whom have their own stories to tell.  They invited  3 superb actors with lived experience of dual heritage families to work with the team: Fiona Whitelaw, Charlie Folorunsho and Deni Francis.

The initial exploratory work took place at Brady Arts Centre and The Albany, where the team presented the work in progress before an audience of critical friends and peers. The Q&A session, with thoughts, comments and ideas could have lasted all evening! We are grateful to everyone who joined us on the day.

 

The sharing event at the end of the R&D was followed by a discussion session, with a vibrant room filled with people keen to respond to the questions raised in the piece. The atmosphere was very vibrant and we were touched by the feedback received:

I love the way it is fluid and ambiguous in the script. I love the relevance of this piece. We need this work now! Great work in progress. Vital work .

Thought-provoking, poignant, inspiring. Love the richness of the stories against the bleakness of the wider political structures that prop up racism. Disheartening to realise we are moving into the same kind of racial politics again.

Great story-telling, would love to see more. So much history that speaks to today. It’s made me realise I need to stop being passive. Thank you.

Beautiful show – telling important stories really humanely. Interesting to talk more about white women entering BME communities.

Very powerful. Much needed. Good having both African-Caribbean and Asian mixed stories.

 


The research and responses will feed into our new production, White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels, in collaboration with Hassan Mahamdallie of Dervish Productions

Stretching back over half a century, the play will powerfully bring to life the struggles of these extraordinary individuals who defied social conventions and the open hostility of the establishment to pursue their hearts and their desires – whatever the cost.

White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels also tackles today’s hostile environment tearing apart the Windrush generation, and asks the question: Are we going back to the days when it was acceptable to be racist, for families to be split up, and for couples to be spat at in the street for the ‘crime’ of loving one another?

White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels will be further developed next year towards a national tour in autumn 2020.

 


R&D Creative Team

Researchers / Writers / Directors: Hassan Mahamdallie and Julie McNamara

Assistant Director: Simon Startin

Designer: Khadija Raza

Project Producer: Isobel Hawson

Actors / Researchers: Charlie FolorunshoDeni FrancisFiona Whitelaw

Historical Consultant: Professor Hakim Adi

Movement Consultant: Jeanefer Jean-Charles

Photography: Rehan Jamil

Filming: Mohammed Ali

BSL Interpreter: Audrey Simmons

Photo of the Creative Team involved in the R&D (from left to right): Fiona Whitelaw, Hassan Mahamdallie, Charlie Folorunsho, Isobel Hawson, Khadija Raza, Simon Startin, Julie McNamara and Deni Francis.

White Pariahs R&D creative team. Photo by Rehan Jamil

 

The Research and Development stage of the project was supported by Arts Council England and The Albany.


For further information about the project or to enquire about the tour in Autumn 2020 please send us a message using our online enquiry form. Alternatively, drop us an email, give us a call on 020 8123 9945 or send us a text on 074 3242 18253.

In summer 2019 we collaborated with poet, playwright and performer, Tanaka Mhishi on the development of his extraordinary new work, a visceral excavation of the impact of sexual assault on young men, entitled This is How it Happens.

The work aims to shine a light on the hidden everyday of the many different men living in the wake of sexual violence, as they navigate love, health, sex, work and fatherhood.

The creative development days at Chats Palace in late August culminated in an intimate sharing of four stories inspired by lived experiences, charting a journey from deep in the forests of trauma out to the clean air of hope, visibility and recovery. Tanaka presents the process below in his own words:

I had the great pleasure this summer of partnering with Vital Xposure on a short R&D of This Is How it Happens, a semi-autobiographical show exploring men’s experiences of surviving sexual violence.

I began the first drafts of This Is How it Happens in late 2014, ten months after being sexually assaulted. Since then it has been waiting, quietly and patiently, for the right team; for a community which could support me as both an artist and a survivor. So many discussions around abuse and harm are happening in the light of #MeToo, but I knew that if I were going to pursue this project I would have to do it in the safest, most nourishing way- for both me and the audience.

Vital Xposure have been there every step of the way and I found myself constantly astounded by their patience and support. Putting together this stage of the project taught me a lot about my own capabilities and limits and I don’t mind admitting that I both over- and underestimated myself in certain roles. Julie McNamara and the rest of the Vital Xposure team handled all this with aplomb, whether it was coaching me through a pre-show mental health dip or helping out when I was quivering over spreadsheets.

We finished the three day development process with a small showing. It’s difficult to believe how uplifting it was to share difficult material like this with an audience, to find them willing to process and parse it, to hear the increasingly enthusiastic engagement in our Q&A afterwards. And I marvelled at how emotionally supported the performance itself was. It set a benchmark for the next steps.

I am so privileged to be have worked with a group capable of weaving passion and compassion together so seamlessly.

And as for the next steps? Watch this space.

Tanaka Mhishi

 

 

We were thrilled to be involved in this process and it has been a privilege to work alongside Tanaka on this piece of work.

The intimate sharing event offered some touching responses from attendees which have positively fuelled us for the project’s future steps. We are sharing some of these responses below:

Very powerful, intense piece! Well done!

It provided the insight of the inner world also how the trauma was played externally.

Becoming aware of the silence of this issue, the lack of narrative in media on this.

It was important to tell the impact beyond the assaults.

 


R&D Creative Team

Writer / Performer / Lead Artist: Tanaka Mhishi

Director: Julie McNamara

Movement Consultant:  Imogen Butler-Cole

Photography: Copy to the Writer Photography

 

The Research and Development stage of the project was supported by Arts Council England and City Bridge Trust.