Tag Archive for: Julie McNamara

It’s been a year since we toured Quiet Rebels across England along with our co-producing partner, Dervish Productions.

The journey continues this autumn with a series of creative workshops with and for young people at Hackney Quest, a local youth organisation, led by the writers / directors of Quiet Rebels, Hassan Mahamdallie and Julie McNamara.

Drawing inspiration from the research and stories unearthed in the theatre play, young participants have been exploring ways to search and discover forgotten stories in their families and community, remember and celebrate people that have shaped Hackney’s history and what this means to them.

The group recently spent time at Hackney Museum, delving into the current exhibition At Home in  Hackney and the Block by Block display – and even re-enacting life in small local businesses, such as a barber shop.

Group of people in a museum being briefed by staff. Framed pictures hang on the walls behind them.

Hackney Quest group visit to the Hackney Museum. Photo by JulieMc.

The three photos in the banner above show moments from the group’s visit: three young participants re-enact a day at the barbers’, two members of the group closely examine a big replica of the Holly Street Estate flats and one of the young participants is about to become a chef as he puts on his chef’s hat.

A big thank you to Museum’s staff generosity during the visit a space that is ‘huge nourishment for creative minds seeking out stories’, in the words of JulieMc.

The workshops were made possible  with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with thanks to National Lottery players.

We are thrilled that Quiet Rebels, co-produced with Dervish Productions, has made it to the 2023 Digital Culture Awards Longlist by Arts Council England in the Digital Inclusion category for the innovative integration of creative access in the dramaturgy and presentation of the show, led by Writers and Directors Hassan Mahamdallie and Julie McNamara.

Using a vibrant, percussive soundscape and rich visual narrative with captions, BSL and audio description, access was woven into Quiet Rebels’ dystopian world unfolding stories of white working-class women who crossed the colour line to marry men of the Windrush Generation.

Through a combination of live theatre and digital media (visuals/pre-filmed BSL interpretation) access features were woven into the fabric of the show at all times. Audiences did not need to feel restricted to performance dates or times that met their requirements or worry about access provision whilst enjoying a theatre play.

Quiet Rebels toured to UK Theatres in autumn 2022. We had very positive responses to the creative captioning and pre-filmed BSL interpretation:

“Excellent I have a completely deaf husband and he is beginning to enjoy the theatre again with subtitles.”

“Very good. And works well also for non-native British. It helps to understand the accents.”

“Very accessible, I was included in everything, I didn’t miss out at all via the Sign interpretation on the screen that translated what been said via the actor and then the caption on the wall it was all crystal clear.”

Access features were seamlessly embedded in the play – key motifs of the storyline were repeated throughout the show, in filmed visual scrolls to sew the seeds of the story as it unfolds. These were not only used to remove barriers to arts and culture, but they matched the content and atmosphere: the BSL interpreter was a storyteller; the captions projected onto screens added to the sense of being surveilled and controlled by the regime; much of the visual world of the play was described directly through the narrative, seen through the eyes of the Detective as she carries out her investigation. Therefore access features enhanced the experience for everyone allowing to widen access to theatre as place and process to transport audiences to a different world, make them feel and interrogate the themes/stories presented.

We would like to send a massive ‘thank you‘ to everyone involved in bringing this play to life.

The full Longlist for the 2023 Digital Culture Awards can be found here: https://digitalculturenetwork.org.uk/news/2023-digital-culture-awards-longlist/ 

The Vital Xposure team would like to congratulate all peers nominated for the Award!

Read more audience comments and reviews of Quiet Rebels.

A Dervish Productions, Vital Xposure and Belgrade Theatre co-production
Developed in partnership with Soul City Arts and The Albany

Vital Xposure and Dervish Productions are delighted to announce the UK tour of Quiet Rebels written and directed by Julie McNamara (The Knitting Circle) and Hassan Mahamdallie (The Crows Plucked Your Sinews).

Quiet Rebels is based on the true life but forgotten stories of white working-class women who fell in love with men of the Windrush generation. They defied race and class prejudice and social stigma directed against them and their families.

A drama-noir, with film, music and movement, set in England in 2028, a dystopian, authoritarian state where people who marry across the race lines are considered traitors.

“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, R&D Autumn 2019

“The detective / narrator character as a form of integrated audio description in this setting was extremely inventive.”

Audience feedback, R&D Summer 2020

Julie McNamara and Hassan Mahamdallie’s extensive research gives voice to the stories of these unsung women, who faced hostility, battled discrimination and showed courage in the face of racism, class and gender prejudice, laying the foundations of the multi-cultural society we enjoy today.

The question is posed “Were these women treated as if they committed a crime against society?”

Film, movement, soundscapes with integrated creative access provide a powerful dramatisation of stories brought to life by the writers and a team of creative talent.

The Quiet Rebels creative team is experimenting with a new approach to integrating access into the design of the production, using a vibrant, percussive soundscape and rich visual narrative that incorporates captions, BSL and audio description to sew access into the fabric of the show.

 

Premiere: Saturday 10 September, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

UK Tour dates

 

“As our first show coming out of the pandemic, Quiet Rebels is immensely important to Vital Xposure, enabling disabled artists to lead the social justice conversation, and put our voices at the centre of our culture, where they belong.”

Simon Startin, Artistic Director of Vital Xposure

“I thought it would be exciting to work with Julie and Vital Xposure, and to learn from her and the company about the politics and aesthetics of disability in theatre. But we didn’t have an idea. And then the Windrush ‘hostile environment’ scandal blew up. At the same time, I came across a biographical article from the renowned educationalist Professor Heidi Safia Mirza, whose father, like my own, was an Indian from Trinidad, and whose mother was a white European, like my mother. I thought that her approach was a really interesting way of looking at the history of the Windrush generation: through the lens of these white working class women who fell in love with these ‘dark strangers’ and in their own way altered history, and shaped the multicultural society we enjoy today. I told Julie that I thought I had something we could both write about.”

Hassan Mahamdallie, Co-Writer / co-Director of Quiet Rebels – Artistic Director of Dervish Productions

“For me, researching these stories and writing this play, was vital to my mental health. We have struggled for 5 years in the courts and finally heard justice in the Royal Courts at the close of 2020. I have been seething with rage at the devastating impact of successive governments’ casual disregard of the contribution of Black people and communities of colour in shaping the country we live in today. And so Quiet Rebels was born”

Julie McNamara, Co-Writer / co-Director of Quiet Rebels – Former Artistic Director of Vital Xposure

A Vital Xposure, Dervish Productions and Belgrade Theatre co-production.

Developed and delivered with partners Soul City Artsthe AlbanyHackney EmpireDeaf Rave and Jane Morgan Associates.

Quiet Rebels is supported by Arts Council EnglandGarrick Charitable Trust (2021 – 2022), City Bridge Trust. (2018 – 2023), Unity Theatre Trust (2022), the National Lottery Community Fund (2022) and made possible  with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with thanks to National Lottery players (2022).

Photo of the diverse creative team at The Albany Featuring, clockwise from left: Theresa Veith and Simon Startin (Vital Xposure staff), Stephen Rudder (filmmaker), JulieMc McNamara and Hassan Mahamdallie (writers), Deni Frances, Charlie Folorunsho and Fiona Whitelaw (actors). Photo credit: Isobel Hawson.

Team photo at The Albany Featuring, clockwise from left: Theresa Veith and Simon Startin (Vital Xposure staff), Stephen Rudder (filmmaker), JulieMc McNamara and Hassan Mahamdallie (writers), Deni Frances, Charlie Folorunsho and Fiona Whitelaw (actors). Photo credit: Isobel Hawson.

It is our turn to share the joy of being back in a room after all these months and make theatre!

Earlier this autumn the R&D team met at The Albany for a rehearsed reading of the script.

In the meantime, Stephen Rudder has added his magic touch to the play’s journey by creating a visual and aural sense of dystopian future and the underground world where the action takes place in. A new trailer, edited by Mohammed Ali, offers a glimpse into the stories that will come to life on stage next year.

Read more about White Pariahs: Quiet Rebels

 

A Word from our Artistic Director

 

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and afraid.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down the dulcimer. Let the beauty we love be what we do…

I love this poem by Jelalludin Rumi, 12th century mystical poet. It does have a final line: ‘There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground’, but as an unbaptised bastard child of a recovering Catholic, I will NEVER genuflect again.

Art is powerful, it opens our hearts and minds, our creative endeavours forge connections when we are losing our way. Our art is our creative heart, the vital pulse of our being in the world. We, at Vital Xposure, are currently working online to plan our next creative endeavours and will soon offer you all an update when we are ready for public consumption. The arts and culture we are turning to in this challenging time, while we fill our days in isolation, provide us with far more than frivolities, they provide us with meaning.

Nietzsche once wrote:

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how

Right now, it is so vital to find ways to stay sane, to nourish ourselves, and our loved ones, and to support our communities. Some of us are becoming more fragile by the day, bombarded with a tsunami of messages about the value of our lives in the world. If you are disabled or have a long-term health condition, step back. Sign that DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and allow the beleaguered frontline workers of the NHS some room to save the fittest amongst us. Are we truly back here – ‘Survival of the Fittest’? Only ‘save those who stand the best chance of recovery’ i.e. the most productive for the future of our Capitalist economy. If you, like many of us in Disability Arts, fall into the category of the most vulnerable to this Coronavirus, please do not feel left alone, left behind or erased. Every life matters. You matter!

Channel 4 broadcast a letter of hope, delivered by Doctor Matt Morgan from the critical care team at University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, he said: “It must be so hard listening to endless news reports that end with ‘don’t worry, this illness mainly affects the elderly, frail, vulnerable, or those with serious underlying health conditions. What if that is you..?
We have not forgotten about you…” he went on to promise that the team alongside him would offer care to everyone in need. It was a bold and beautiful message of hope filled with compassion, and the first time somebody had publically acknowledged the psychological impact of some of the messages continually pumping out of the media.

Dr Matt Morgan’s full letter can be accessed here.

Audrey Lorde once said:

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

So let’s make a commitment to ourselves, so that we are ready to do what needs to be done for those of our friends and comrades who are in need of more support. Leave no one behind!

We may have closed Vital Xposure’s office temporarily, but we have not closed our hearts and minds. We have had to abandon our tour, but we are not abandoning you, our friends and supporters.

This too will pass. Try to find a moment of joy in each and every day. The air is cleaner, the plants and animals recovering. Most of us will do so too. Please look after your selves and do keep in touch. Never give up!

 

With love and hopes for great happenings,

JulieMc and team at Vital Xposure

 

Greatest hope!

The cast of Medicine’s Monstrous Daughters has moved from the rehearsal room onto Zoom.

Earlier this month they shared their greatest hopes for this show and they captured them in a screenshot, which is shown at top of this article.  We are sharing below everyone’s greatest hope for Medicine’s Monstrous Daughters:

 

Larger audience.

Shereener Browne, Actor – Role: Elaine / Elsie

 

To show my family NOT to be scared.

My body CAN do amazing things with the right SUPPORT.

Lisette Auton, Actor – Role: Mad Mary

 

Working alongside new people and making friends, new and old!

Eden West, Actor, Role: Walter Riddle

 

Share the very real and lived experience of those in the mental health space.

Fatima Niemogha, Actor – Role: Kem

 

Showing it to audiences and seeing their reactions. Hoping it might help some people’s understanding of mental health.

Becky Brown, Stage Manager

 

Julie McNamara made a sketch of Shereener and Fatima with Omikemi, writer of ‘Medicine’ in rehearsal. The drawing represents the hope to realise Omikemi’s unique, extraordinary poetic voice on stage.

 

Useful links and resources

In the past weeks, we have all been searching and sharing information on support available during the pandemic. From emergency funds and resources on working remotely, to ideas how to create and present work online. We have collated a list of links that you may find useful. Feel free to share the list and send us any news that may be of interest to our friends and community. You can view the list here.

Tag Archive for: Julie McNamara