White Pariahs – Quiet Rebels
Written and directed by Hassan Mahamdallie and Julie McNamara
Research and Development (Phase 1 – 2019)
Following extensive research and interviews with women from across the UK, Australia, USA and Europe, a two week R&D brought together a diverse team of creatives.
The final sharing was a moving, scripted 40 minute piece, based on the testimonies collected, together with ideas of design, film, photos, music and movement.
Watch the trailer below to get a flavour of the performance piece:
“What a memorable experience! I’ve never been in an audience and heard my own story told to me…”
“It’s so rare to experience that kind of dialogue at the theatre and it says so much about the vital nature of your work and the play.”
Audience feedback, White Pariahs R&D 2019
Research and Development (Phase 2 – 2020)
As we entered one of the strangest period of recent times, a global pandemic in spring 2020, Hassan and Julie continued to develop the work and shifted their focus to new, digital ways of working and sharing, with the support of renowned, Birmingham-based digital artist Mohammed Ali of Soul City Arts
The short trailer below offers a glimpse into the work produced online (via Zoom):
“That was the most powerful experience I have had on Zoom yet. Such creative use of the platform.”
“This kind of dystopian drama is frightening, as it’s not too distant from reality, or possibility.”
Audience feedback, White Pariahs R&D 2020
White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels brings to our stages stories of the white working-class women who crossed the colour line to marry the men of the Windrush generation who emigrated to Britain after WWII. This quiet revolution changed the face of our society, and created some of the most richly diverse cities in the world we enjoy today.
Authentic testimonies bear witness to the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit, where love trounces the idiocies of prejudice. Woven with the women’s stories who protected and nurtured proud mixed heritage families in a country driven by prejudice. This work bursts with the vibrant energy of the quiet rebels who remained alive to life’s possibilities outside the controls and constraints of the establishment.
Based on extensive research and interviews with women and their families, from the 1950s right up to 2020, White Pariahs gives voice to these unsung heroines, whose courage and determination lay the foundations for this extraordinary multi-cultural society we are now.
An exciting collaboration between the two innovative storytellers and theatre-makers, in partnership with renowned visual and digital artist, Mohammed Ali, the production animates the struggles of these extraordinary individuals who defied social conventions and establishment hostility to pursue their hearts and desires – at whatever the cost.
White Pariahs is based on people’s experience of the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ our past, present and, if we do not act, our future. The story places us in a dystopian world where Enoch Powell has initiated race rehabilitation centres and we target people for the offence of miscegenation.
Mahamdallie, McNamara and Ali are staging these stories because they demand to be heard. Their joint vision and diverse perspectives uniquely honour these extraordinary stories, attracting wide-ranging audiences and participants who have been waiting to be heard and waiting to see the history and reality of mixed-race Britons.
We are posing the question “Were these women treated as if they had committed a crime against society? If so, what was it and what is the punishment?” Mahamdallie and McNamara are using detective murder-mystery pulp fiction and film noir storytelling as a way of exploring this crucial social history.
Set in the year 2028, we investigate the murder of an elderly woman, who had served six years for defying miscegenation laws and giving birth to six mixed race children.
“Detective Shade picked up a large framed black ‘n’ white photo of Aileen’s living-room mantelpiece. It was already attracting a thin layer of dust, but she could see it was a blown-up, rather blurry snap of a group of happy young white women, squeezed together to all get into the picture. Some were in the company of their coloured, brown or black skinned lover, a couple of whom had a proprietary arm round their woman’s waist. Sending out a clear male signal that he had plucked this particular English Rose.
A group day trip or couples’ get-together? Bound by the secrets of their common transgression.
There in the centre of the group, a twenty-something version of Aileen in full bloom caught Shade’s eye. Standing close by her, an Indian-looking cove in a baggy suit with wide lapels, sporting a 50’s Hollywood idol-style greased-back hair, with the thinnest pencil moustache setting off his darkly handsome features. ‘Trinidad Hanif, I presume’ she thought to herself. She wondered if Hanif was possibly still alive and if he were, where might he be?
Shade prised the photo out of its cheap frame. On the back she found an outline roughly drawn version of the image on the other side, with names handwritten in block capitals against the shapes of just the women”.
Autumn 2020 – Summer 2021
Research and Development activity.
Autumn 2021 – Spring 2022
White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels will be presented online or in small scale venues. Unique online resources and participatory activities gathered through the year, provide innovative audience development opportunities and a unique historical legacy. Workshops, particularly relevant to young participants and post show discussions, led by Professor Hakim Adi, Hassan Mahamdallie and Julie McNamara will support the production.
Julie McNamara – Vital Xposure: is recognised as a national and international artist and activist in the Disability Arts movement. Driven by social justice, she is an award winning playwright and screenwriter and has published widely in poetry anthologies and non-fiction discourses on Disability and Mental Health. Julie is a Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Melbourne University, Australia. Recent work includes: The Butch Monologues: A powerful and humorous collection of secret stories exploring sexuality, vulnerability and desire, taken from interviews with butches, masculine women and transmen, living world-wide (national/Australia); Let Me Stay: A tender exploration of the impact of Alzheimer’s on family relations; Voices from the Knitting Circle: lifting the lid on the closed world of UK asylums and secure hospitals (Best Documentary Over 30 Minutes / Best of the Festival Award, Picture This…Film Festival, Calgary, Canada, 2018).
Hassan Mahamdallie – Dervish: playwright and director, is internationally known as a political activist, thinker, facilitator, policy maker and trainer in equality, culture, religion, history and arts. He authored the Arts Council’s Creative Case for Diversity. His published work includes Tell It Like It Is: How Our Schools Fail Black Children; Defending Multiculturalism (ed); monographs on Stephen Lawrence affair; Crossing the ‘River of Fire’, a biography of artist, William Morris. He regularly contributes to books and essays and was Common Wealth Theatre’s resident writer on I Have Met The Enemy (October 2019). Work for his company, Dervish, includes the highly acclaimed The Crows Plucked Your Sinews (co-production Contact/Albany) – 2 national tours, Grahamstown Festival, South Africa, nominated for the Alfred Fagon Award.
On The Crows Plucked Your Sinews: “Is this the future of British Theatre? I hope so”.– Media Diversified. “…. is one of the most striking debut plays we have read recently at the Court…Hassan’s conceptual process is generous and pioneering.” Lucy Davies, Executive Producer, Royal Court.
Mohammed Ali – Soul City Arts: Art meets faith, identity and social change in Ali’s work adorning the canvas of walls and public spaces, which change the visual landscapes of the cities we live in. Ali combines street art with live performances, installations, digital projections and moving soundscapes. He has created immersive experiences for audiences throughout the world. From street canvases in New York, Amsterdam, London and Melbourne to intimate performances in the Vatican, Ali has used his art and collaborations with critically acclaimed artists, to produce unique experiences. An educator and curator, Ali is driven by a commitment to transform society, passionately believing in capturing community stories. Ali is a trustee of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and was awarded an MBE for services to ‘Art and Community Cohesion’.