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 ‘colour line’, and fell in love with, or married Black men. This was the beginning of an exciting collaboration with Dervish Productions that brought two innovative artists and theatre writers in the same room: Hassan Mahamdallie (Writer / Dervish’s Artistic Director) and Julie McNamara (Writer / Vital Xposure’s Artistic Director).
Following the R&D in 2019, Hassan and Julie continued to develop the work towards a new theatre production entitled White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels. They decided to call the protagonists of the real-life stories ‘quiet rebels’ because they found them to be both ordinary and extraordinary individuals, self-effacing and courageous at the same time.
As we entered one of the strangest period of recent times, a global pandemic in spring 2020, the team shifted to new, digital ways of working and sharing, with the support of renowned, Birmingham-based digital artist Mohammed Ali of Soul City Arts.
Navigating through online platforms of remote collaboration, the two writers brought the story forward to 2028, in a dystopian future where the glaring figure of Enoch Powell dominates, and Racial Purity Laws now control our communities. In part, Julie and Hassan wanted to show that history does not always go forward, sometimes it is thrown backwards, and our hard-won gains are erased. They also experimented with their own script writing, tackling the question how to translate the live theatre experience into online platforms, that have become the new, but so different, theatre stage during the pandemic.
You can watch a short trailer of the Online R&D to get a flavour of the work produced (click play below):
Two online sharing events of the second phase of the ongoing Research and Development took place on Zoom in July and August 2020. The team used these events to test the story and ask questions about audience’s live engagement with the subject matter through online platforms. Thanks to the digital wizardry of Mohammed Ali, the creative team also pushed Zoom’s boundaries for creativity and the aesthetics of access within this work.
Below are a few screenshots from the online sharing:
We were amazed by the responses received by our critical friends and the insightful feedback towards future steps:
“That was the most powerful experience I have had on Zoom yet. Such creative use of the platform.”
“I’m so impressed with the experimentation with zoom and pushing its (desperately annoying) limits, and I’m also fascinated to see what you take from here into next format (post-Zoom?). I also was mostly grasped by the moments when I could really focus on the story and feel more emotionally connected.”
“I really like the futuristic thread you’re weaving into the story, it allows past present and future to coexist in parallel. A strong reminder to the viewer that times change but the human condition often remains the same.”
“This kind of dystopian drama is frightening, as it’s not too distant from reality, or possibility.”
“I enjoyed the experimentation with the zoom format, both for its filmic qualities and its potential to comment on history and archiving.”
“I thought the way the read was tailored to Zoom (really engaging with the form, rather than ‘merely’ being on Zoom out of necessity) such a refreshing change from many other things I have seen recently.”
“I thought using the detective/narrator character as a form of integrated audio description in this setting was extremely inventive.”
“Wonderful textures, I was transported, ethereal but real point in time. The interplay of BSL positioning was too good. It felt dystopian! Yes!”
“So different to watch on this platform, chilling, confronting, well done!”
“Audio describing was on the point…well done”
Creative Team (Second R&D 2020)
Researchers / Writers / Directors: Hassan Mahamdallie and Julie McNamara
Digital Arts Director: Mohammed Ali, Soul City Arts
Actors / Researchers: Charlie Folorunsho / Deni Francis / Fiona Whitelaw
Actor / BSL Interpreter: Clare Edwards
Movement Consultant: Jeanefer Jean-Charles
Project Producer: Isobel Hawson
White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels will be further developed towards a national tour in 2021 -2022.
For further information about the project 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 (SMS / WhatsApp) on 074 3242 18253.