Choosing a story

I daydream and work towards reality for a living.
It's for the greater good, I promise. It's so all kinds of people can sit side by side and be told a story. We have always done this. We adore a good story told. We like how people can twist and turn and drop a killer line. We like it so much that when told well, we remember those lines. We repeat them, recite them and tell them again and again. We like the lessons learnt, we like our heroes to win and we like our heroes to lose so that we can feel the triumph of them winning over and over again!

I'm currently searching for a story to tell at Hull Truck Theatre, as part of the Change Makers Production coming in 2018. I am in a privileged position to explore the stories we call Classics from this part of the world, as well as Classics from my own African diaspora and examine where we do or do not connect.

There is a world of stories to be told, in these most precarious of times.

I spent an extraordinary few days and continued ongoing conversations with Ola Animashawun (@euphoricink)and Moji Kareem (@Amojo1)  - two of my Theatre peers - who joined me and my colleagues here at Hull Truck Theatre. Within the room that we worked, there was a generosity and attention to detail. We had conversations about the theatre industry under-commissioning BAME writers, the commissioning of one type of story, lost scripts over the centuries from people of colour, women and, in particular, where that left the Women of colour who fall between the intersectionality of that.

We talked about new writing, known titles, exceptional writing and what resonates with audiences, whether they were new or those who attend on a more regular basis.

But here's the thing...this form called theatre is a battle ground for the people. The arguments about the people, by the people and that ' great art'... is for everyone, is questionable. We are battling to be heard, to have a cast that reflects our country let alone our world - and to ensure that access is paramount in our thinking.

When choosing a production for audiences, venues must take into account many considerations, not least the ticket pricing and subject matter of the productions. Many theatre venues are currently examining access to theatre, or rather the current theatre practice which discourages access. Theatre venues are not only talking about change but attaching actions. It would be interesting to assess those venues who are still avoiding the question.

I come from a family of storytellers. My Aunty would recall a dream and tell it to me when I was a child. 40 years later, that story still has me holding on to my heart and nodding in understanding as a grown woman.

We as Theatre practitioners make decisions on what stories we tell next. We need to ensure inclusion is the key and that it's a story worthy of our audiences and our times.

I'm currently making work called 'Wondr' - written by Poppy Burton-Morgan, Metta Theatre - that places a Black British woman at centre stage. What she has to say about motherhood and digital identity from her point of view is rarely heard. I'm delighted to direct it. I'm then taking up the invitation to attend the National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina, USA with 'Just An Ordinary Lawyer' by Tayo Aluko - once again placing the story of Britain's first Black Judge centre stage and sharing his take on our collective history.

I'll be returning to work closely with the Hull Truck team on 'A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian', based on the novel by Marina Lewycka, adapted by Tanika Gupta and directed by Mark Babych.

It's full on storytelling with a purpose, as it should be.

Have a good summer. I'll let you know how I get on with my search. The story continues.

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