The lion called an assembly to make up a plan.
Who would approach the Sky God in the bravest kind of way
And make us proud by returning with the light of day?”
Anansi the Spider, that’s who!
The Anansi stories pre-date the trauma of slavery. They were taken in the hearts of enslaved Africans to the plantations of the West Indies. Later, with the Windrush generation, they came to the UK. As part of our cultural heritage, the importance of oral storytelling, and of these folk stories in particular, is often overlooked.
That’s where we come in.
‘Anansi’s Journey’ is a multimedia show for schools and elder’s care settings bringing the stories and their history to new audiences. The project combines contemporary spoken word, puppetry, original Kora music, and filmed Interviews with Afro Caribbean elders sharing their memories of the story and migration and give a human face to this lost history.
We are asking for your support to bring this show to schools and care settings in some of the areas worst hit by Covid 19 for Black History month 2020.
Who are we?
•I’m Caroline, I have been nurturing this project for several years. It has grown to become a collaboration between 4 BAME artists. I’m a teacher and puppeteer trained at the Curious School of Puppetry and Little Angel Theatre. Facilitator of puppetry workshops in schools, community centres & museums in the UK & France.
•Abstract Benna – Writer & Narration: Benna is a spoken word performer of Bajan & Jamaican heritage who has collaborated with major organisations including the Roundhouse, NHS and BBC 5 Live. (https://www.abstractbenna.com)
• Eileen Bellot – Direction: Eileen Bellot is a Freelance Writer/ Director and Artistic Director of QuestLife. Eileen’s work has been staged at Arcola Theatre, Park Theatre, Ovalhouse, Vault Festival, Albany Theatre, Rich Mix & Canada Water Theatre. Links: Twitter @Questlife2 www.questlife.co.uk
• Mosi Konde – Music: Mosi is an award-winning traditionally griot trained Kora player who has performed at world-class venues including WOMAD, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall (http:// www.greennote.co.uk/production/mosi-conde-kaira-kora-africa/),
We are proud to have mentorship from highly experience professionals:
• Sarah Wright and the Curious School of Puppetry. Sarah is a renowned puppetry director who has worked with companies including Shakespeare’s Globe, Kneehigh, the Young Vic, and Wise Children. She founded CSP in 2016. (http://curiouspuppetry.com/about)
• Beth Warnock, Creative Learning Producer for theatre, poetry & dance at the Barbican.
• Judith Hope Master puppet maker. (https://www.judithhope.co.uk/)
• The Little Angel Theatre, leading British puppet theatre, (https://littleangeltheatre.com)
• Vivian Gladwell, Clown master, (https://www.nosetonose.info/movie.htm)
• Reel Rebel Radio (http://reelrebelsradio.com)
• Jane Gerhard, finance manager.
This project is critically important right now.
The recent Black Lives Matter protests have finally thrown the spotlight onto race and cultural heritage, but these issues are nothing new. When I look back at my childhood in '70s and '80s France, I faced deep racism, anger, religious extremism and self-abuse. A few individuals made all the difference in helping me to build a positive self-image - these moments saved me.
As you might know, there is very little representation of BAME culture in schools (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/17/only-1-of-uk- childrens-books-feature-main-characters-of-colour).
Representation of BAME characters, stories, and culture is crucial in giving children a sense of identity and community.
How can we know who we are if our lives are never reflected in the stories told around us?
In these difficult times, it is essential that children grow up feeling able to stand strong and face today’s teenage challenges. Knife crime, hate crime, drug and gang culture, systemic racism, poverty. These things will not go away, but we can help young people feel strong in themselves as they prepare to face them.
Today, I run workshops in schools and witness the need not only for children from BAME backgrounds to celebrate their culture but also for all other children to witness their friends participating in something that belongs to them. This empowerment changes the usual narrative of exclusion.
Who Is ‘Anansi’s Journey’ for?
Uniquely this show will cater for 2 different audiences:
• children aged 5 to 9 in schools, community centres, libraries and museums
• isolated elders in care homes as a personal show.
Workshops will run alongside the show, focussing on encouraging creative self-expression through creative writing, storytelling, and puppetry.
We want this show to be accessible to everyone. We are working with a Speech and Language Therapist from the Learning Trust in Hackney and a BSL & Makaton interpreter, to ensure that our show is as inclusive as possible.
We have a Research and Development week booked at the Little Angel Theatre 3dr to 7th August.
The show itself is planned for October 2020 to coincide with Black History Month. If we return to lockdown, we will be able to perform it remotely via virtual platforms.
What Your Money is For?
These are hard times for the arts, and community support is more important than ever. Making a show from scratch is not a small job! We are asking for £20,000 to bring this beautiful, timely project to life.
We have already made prototype set and puppets, but these will be remade following our Research and Development week in August.
Therefore we need funding to pay for rehearsals, puppet making, set designing, script-writing, music composition, recording, film making and marketing.
We hope you can help make this important show a reality!
- Katie Owen
- Lehni Olamide Davies
- Isabella Ludlam
- Jane Hewer
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