Talawa Theatre Company are creating an online experience featuring six brand new short pieces using verbatim interviews from Black key and frontline workers which explore the historic moment of the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on them. The pandemic has had a starkly divergent impact on communities; Black people are four times more likely to die from Covid-19, according to Public Health England’s figures in May for England and Wales.
What has been learned, challenged and changed forever? What might life in the UK look like in a year’s time? Tales from the Front Line will document the contribution of Black workers at the front line of the Covid-19 crisis, creating a lasting historical record. It will explore their relationships with British society and how the pandemic has challenged their perceptions of belonging, especially in the wake of the Windrush Scandal and the global Black Lives Matter movement. With humour and hope, Tales from the Front Line will be an interrogation of the society that is being impacted greatest by Covid-19, and the society that will emerge from it.
Talawa are speaking to people from a wide spectrum of key and frontline workers, including Transport for London employees, supermarket staff, teachers, teaching assistants and delivery drivers, and draws contributors from Talawa’s Croydon home and across the UK. The interviews are intended to provide a space for these workers to share their experiences and articulate their concerns and hopes for the future.
Artists will be given the freedom to use the testimonies to create a dramatised work featuring music, photography, movement, soundscapes and animations – whatever they feel best conveys the story. With support from Croydon Council’s Culture Relief Fund, the pieces will be available on Talawa’s website this Autumn.
Michael Buffong, Talawa’s Artistic Director, comments, If not for Covid-19, we would find our lives dominated by BREXIT and the Windrush scandal. Covid-19 has exposed the fact those people most affected by these hostilities are the ones who are keeping the country alive, sustained and functioning. We want to gather and share these powerful stories from the front line to ensure that these contributions by Black British people cannot be erased from the historical record.
Talawa are an Arts Council England NPO.
Talawa Theatre Company is the most successful Black theatre company in the UK. They have established a track record of producing work which shines a spotlight on Black artists, creating theatre for diverse audiences across the country. Mounting more than fifty productions over their 34-year history, their last co-production, Superhoe by Nicole Lecky, was at the Royal Court. Other recent productions have included collaborations with the Royal Exchange; Guys & Dolls, King Lear (in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre) and All My Sons (Royal Exchange Theatre, UK tour), and new work including Girls by Theresa Ikoko (co-production with Soho Theatre, HighTide) and Half Breed by Natasha Marshall (co-production with Soho Theatre).
Performance Dates Autumn 2020. Website www.talawa.com