WOWFestival and No Boundaries

March is a special month. I've been so busy I've had limited time to share what I've been up to, what I've been learning and what I've been supporting. March the 8th was officially International Women's Day so I took the full month, it was good to see social media champion women all over the world.

That weekend I attend not one but two WOW Festivals (Women of the World). I was invited to Chair the WOWHull panel on the future of women in leadership followed by joining the audience at WOWLondon held at the Southbank to hear Dr Angela Davis speak.
I was joined on the panel by Rachel Bagshaw, Director of Blazon Theatre, Eleanor Lloyd, West End Producer, Maxine Peake Actor, writer and director and Lian Bell, Art Activist of the ‘Waking the Feminist’ Campaign in Dublin, Ireland. The panel were invited to discuss broad issues such as the recent debate on Emma Rice's position at the Globe using the various campaigns and developing tools to support the argument such as Tonic Theatres Advance collating statistics on who heads our theatre venues in terms of the Chair, CEO and Artistic Director. The stats were a clear indication of work to do and showed the vast difference for both Black and disabled women.

Hurtling down to the London Southbank to hear what Dr Angela Davis had to say in terms of feminism, it resonated hard with me. Black women are often overlooked in the argument. Our concerns rarely considered by anyone but ourselves and if they are, we are spoken on behalf of.

With gender and race we are at the intersection of neglect and care. We do not even have the privilege of being called bossy, aggressive yes but never bossy, let alone actual boss. Although in my case I have led many teams and witnessed many in my network of Black women who lead well when the opportunity arises and relish in that fact.

For those who know me, they know I value boundaries, I check mine often both physically and emotionally. I am clear when I go hard and when I rest. My research methods run deep and I have to create mechanisms to stop as I'm so fascinated by our world, even when it didn’t pay me much attention.

I co -hosted a conference alongside Lee Corner called ‘No Boundaries 2017’ here at Hull Truck Theatre with Home, Manchester and live streamed online. You can catch it here if you missed it or want to recap on some of the incredible provocations and perceptions from the various speakers.

No Boundaries Conference 2017 

I had the privilege of having the best seat in the house, sat up close and personal listening and watching every word delivered as the BSL team and Stage Text crew flowed alongside the speaker.

There were many highlights with key words and phrases such as "Joy is resistance" from Inua Ellams. Jamie Beddard from Extraordinary Bodies saying thanks to mavericks for giving him a chance and I'm thinking giving a talented man a chance? The strong track record of friendship and hard work between him and the brilliant Claire Hodgeson was clear for all to feel.

Another highlight for me on the first day was Nikesh Shukla opening the day, no warm up or pussyfooting, straight up talk and dun. Just like the book he has edited The Good Immigrant that should be in every place where there are people in the U.K.

On the second day a series of highlights has to be credited to producers Rowan Rutter and Siobhan Ward and Jonathan Harper, chief executive of the No Boundaries Conference.

As a Director you look carefully at how to place the story, how to ramp up the care from the audience, how to grab and keep their attention and bring them back to a place of safety, if that is your intention.

I direct like I would DJ.

With the outstanding backdrop of an historical day of the Article 50 being delivered on behalf of the nation Economist Vicky Pryce shared her brilliance by setting out complex concerns in 10 minutes in simple terms but not simple language. She also brought it home when she cited her own Greek heritage and what the future may or may not hold for her and her family friends. A disgraceful indictment on our current Government, holding millions of people as ransom for their own nationals living in Europe.

Vicky's argument was followed by Munira Mirza who took us through her argument which was that this was indeed a great opportunity to build towards a better stronger future for Britain and that people where not xenophobic just because they voted leave.  The use of the live link to access each other from Hull to Manchester could not have been more helpful at this point. Neither argument wants to be in the same room much less country and what happened next might help us to move towards getting in that place where the conversation can build towards positive actions.

Honor Rhodes stood up and bathed us with her calm energy. She reminded us that everything is based on relationships and that we have to consider where we are and where the other is and hold up our end of the relationship, as the consequences of not doing so are too grave.

It's what's led us here.

Coming from my end of this bargain in terms of race and class let alone gender raised at the top of this blog, it's like waiting in the playground and the big ones not wanting you to play saying all the reasons why you can't and you're benched. Even though you know you've got skills and everything and some of their games aren't all that anyway, you just want to play. Some people have given up all played out, whilst some people have left the yard and are building their own some place else. No apology, much less boundary.

Jess Thom, smashed it out the park.

I'll let her speak for herself:

Whilst setting up and rehearsing for these two days with the reassuringly calm tech team testing the access tech ensuring everything was in place, I noticed that the text running on the Stage Text was Dr Martin Luther King's speech ' I have a Dream' I used to have a laugh at home whenever the kids would mention dreams I'd do my Dr King Jr saying "That little Black boys and little Black girls would one day be..." it hung in the air like a comfort and a question. How far have we truly come?

Dreaming is a start, doing is better.

All the best to the dreamers and doers of the world.

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