More Tales from the Front Line

London theatre news: Thursday 11 February 2021

Online - Production companies

Talawa Theatre Company have released the next 2 pieces in their online series which use verbatim interviews from Black key and frontline workers.
Image for Tales from the Front Line from Talawa Theatre Company

Image courtesy Talawa Theatre Company

The third and fourth films from Tales from the Front Line - Talawa Theatre Company's online series - have been released on their website and YouTube channel.

You can also still catch the first two pieces at the same locations.

Tales from the Front Line is a six-episode concept, based on verbatim interviews with Black key workers, that aims to explore the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on those on the Front Line of the pandemic.

Part 3

Directed by David Gilbert, the third film stars Kwame Bentil (Get Luke Lowe; Summerlake) and shares the words of a train dispatch worker who worries that his work puts his elderly father at risk of infection.

Disappointed by the lack of respect given by passengers even as he adapts to help them and tries to enforce the rules to keep them safe, he finds himself frustrated by the baseless assumptions he encounters every day.

Part 4

The fourth piece finds Ann Akin (I May Destroy You; Strike series), directed by Jessica Mensah, sharing the words of a supermarket assistant whose job has led her to consider the judgements she has made about others' career choices as she becomes conscious of entitled shoppers' perceptions of her.

From the fear inspired by panic-buying to the sudden appreciation from shoppers who gained awareness of the essential role of supermarket workers, the pandemic has been a rollercoaster.

She finds the power in holding onto positivity and gratitude to keep going through each day.

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.

In November, the Joint Committee on Human Rights report "Black People, Racism and Human Rights", concluded that the Government must urgently take action to protect the human rights of Black people across many areas, including healthcare.

The Tales from the Front Line interviews are a space for Black workers to share their experiences as well as their concerns and hopes for the future.

Black artists and creatives have then used the testimonies to create a dramatised work using music, movement, photography and soundscapes to convey the story with humour and hope.

These stories explore Black workers' relationships with British society and how, in the wake of the Windrush Scandal and the global Black Lives Matter movement, the pandemic has challenged their perceptions of belonging.

They demand that a changed society must emerge from a post-pandemic world.

Michael Buffong, Talawa's Artistic Director, commented ...

"Tales from the Front Line creates a historical record of the contribution of Black workers at the front line of the Covid-19 crisis, and goes further in demanding change from society.

These truth-telling stories reflect real-life experiences which cannot be ignored, and do so in ways that are artistically and creatively rich."

About the company

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).

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