Tag Archives: Mulberry School

The origins and legacy of REFUEL – A Tamasha Schools’ Playwriting Project by Iman Quereshi

Lyrical MC - Tamasha and Rewrite

Image taken from Lyrical MC – photo by Robert Workman

In the weeks following a number of terrorist attacks carried out crudely in the name of Islam, Fin Kennedy, artistic director at Tamasha Theatre, offered the Muslim writers on the Tamasha Playwrights group a space to come together and talk about being a Muslim writer in such a fraught political context.

So one cold January morning myself and three other Muslim playwrights met at Tamasha’s offices in Bethnal Green, and over cupcakes and coffee discussed how it felt to grapple with such issues in our work.

I felt stifled as a writer. If I were to write something, I felt I had a responsibility to answer for such horrors carried out in the name of my religion. But the problem was, I was as in the dark as anyone else about the drivers of such violence. My Islam was not the Islam of Salah Abdeslam, Khurram Butt, or Yahyah Farroukh.

I wanted to write other stories. Stories about Muslims that did not deal with so-called ‘Islamic extremism’ or terrorism, but rather about Muslims whose dating lives are disasters, who hate their jobs, who love trips to ikea, and like feeding stray cats. You know, regular human beings who are fully rounded, three dimensional characters.

And I wasn’t alone in feeling this. There was a general frustration amongst us Muslim writers about how we were constantly represented as Muslims. We only ever seemed to see certain types of Muslims beamed out at us from our screens, stages and news pages. And these ‘types’ rarely corresponded with the Muslims we knew personally – our friends, family, colleagues or acquaintances.

And so, Tamasha theatre decided to make a difference, by supporting us as writers to explore other aspects of Muslim identity in our work. And so, Refuel was born.

Refuel - A Tamasha Schools Project

Rehearsals for Refuel

Designed to support Tamasha’s forthcoming touring production Approaching Empty by Ishy Din, Refuel  paired four Muslim writers with an experienced director each and sent us into four Muslim majority schools across London to develop and write four fresh plays to accompany the main piece. The premise was simple – it must be set in a minicab office. Beyond that, sky was the limit.

Through a series of drama exercises, improvisation, character work, hot seating, real world interviews and discussions, and short writing tasks, I worked with the year 8 girls of Mulberry Girls School in Tower Hamlets to develop some concrete ideas for a play.

Each week we built on top of what we had created together the previous week. The characters we created in the first week, we had to place in a minicab office the second week with some dramatic interactions with other characters. The third week saw those dramatic scenes escalate into a more complex plot. Slowly, the forces of the play came together.

What was most thrilling for me as a writer was seeing the 11 year old girls go from wanting to write stories about Harry and Joe and Chloe and Kate, to becoming excited about writing stories about Khadija or Haleema. This switch from simply recreating the white majority they see on their TV screens at home, to actually representing their own lives and cultures and experiences in their ideas was really satisfying and I hope one of the lasting legacies of a project like this.

And this was where the real magic was – they’re humour, their sass, their depth really shone brightest when they began to mine their own experiences, or the banter they have with their own friends and family.

Our play gradually developed into an intergenerational story about three girls and their grandmother. It’s a story of aging, of not quite getting on with older generations, and of cultural gulfs that must be bridged within families which have migrants from different generations. It’s a story that is at once universal, but also intrinsically rooted in the Bengali culture. Everyone can relate to not giving their grandparents enough time, but yet not everyone’s grandmother is called Nani, eats brain cutlets, or tells stories of her village in Bangladesh.

The project has helped me as an emerging writer in many ways. Firstly, the opportunity to work with a brilliant and experienced director, Endy McKay in the classroom has taught me a huge amount about generating stories and ideas through performance. It’s also equipped me with a repertoire of ridiculously fun drama games which I hope I’ll have the opportunity to use soon.  Moreover, the support I had from Fin and Tamasha was completely invaluable and has meant that I’m now confidence enough and equipped with the skills to work on projects like this again. The production credit will hopefully put me in a good position to receive another similar commission in future.

But finally, working with young people in a collaborative and creative way is extremely liberating, because their imaginations are boundless. It was a pleasure to be let into their world for six short weeks, to hear their ideas, their jokes and their lingo. I think I learnt more from them than they ever could have from me, and based on our time together, I’ve got several stories percolating in the back of my mind. Perhaps they’ll pour out in the next play I write.

Find out more and book to see all Refuel performances here.

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Call Out for Female Residents of Tower Hamlets from Mulberry Alumni Theatre

Are you a former Mulberry student or a female resident of Tower Hamlets?

 Become an acting-member of a all-female theatre group

No previous experience required, just commitment and willingness to give it a go!

An exciting opportunity for former Mulberry School students and women residing in Tower Hamlets to come together, be creative and explore the world of theatre. Whether you would simply like to take up a hobby, grow in confidence, develop your interpersonal skills and make new friends; Mulberry ATC is a fantastic resource.

The Mulberry Alumni Theatre Company (Mulberry ATC) was established in January 2014 and is driven and led by Mulberry Alumni. The company is currently seeking new acting members to join the group and take part in staging a production.

Members will work with a Theatre Director every Tuesday (6pm to 9pm) from 1st March 2016 sessions to rehearse the production for 12 weeks for two evening performances on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th May 2016 at the Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre (MBGC) theatre.

Members will be required to attend taster workshops in February (dates and times listed below), weekly rehearsals every Tuesday from 1st March 2016 from 6pm to 9pm, including some extra evening rehearsals during the performance week.

Taster workshops:

To become an acting member Email abegum1@mulberry.towerhamlets.sch.uk and come along to a taster workshop at the Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre (MBGC) Theatre on the dates and times listed below;

  • Thurs 11th Feb* 6pm to 9pm
  • Wed 17th Feb* (half term) 6pm to 9pm
  • Wed 24th Feb* 6pm to 9pm

At Mulberry ATC, we stand for diversity, creativity and personal growth. Our members develop a range of skills and performance experiences which will enable them to bring energy to their work, develop interpersonal skills, and enhance trust in their own creative thinking. Members will;

  • Participate productively in shared group experienceParticipate productively in shared group experienceParticipate productively in shared group experienceBuild on their confidence/ public speaking skills.
  • Participate creatively and productively in a shared group experience.
  • Learn, and explore techniques used by professional actors.
  • Develop performance skills.
  • Work with professional theatre practitioners/ artists.
  • Take part in various drama workshops.
  • Have access to subsidised tickets to watch theatre productions at least 4 times a year.
  • Make new friends in a positive, dynamic and fun environment.

Rehearsal dates (Tuesdays)

Dates:              1st March – 17th May 2016 (12 weeks)

Time:               6pm to 9pm

Location:        Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre (MBGC) Theatre

  • 01st, 8th, 15th, 22nd & *29th March
  • *05th, 12th, 19th, & 26th April
  • 03rd, 10th & 17th, May

*Easter Half term (2 weeks)

Production week – from Sat 21st May 2016

  • Sat 21st May: 11am to 6pm           (full day rehearsal)
  • Tues 24th: 6pm to 9pm                (Technical rehearsal)
  • Wed 25th: 6pm to 9pm                 (Dress rehearsal)
  • Thurs 26th: 6pm to 9pm              (performance 1 to begin at 7pm)
  • Fri 27th: 6pm to 9pm                   (performance 2 to begin at 7pm)

To become a member/ for further information please contact;

Afsana Begum: Artistic Producer

Phone: 07469 790 410

Email: abegum1@mulberry.towerhamlets.sch.uk

 

Non-acting roles

We welcome members who would like to take on non-acting roles whether in costume/ set design, marketing or front of house during the performance night. Please enquire about any particular non-acting roles you would like to be involved in.

 

Location

Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre Theatre

Cannon St Rd,

London

E1 2LG

 

Map and directions to the MBGC

The Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre is located on Bigland Street, behind Mulberry School for Girls between Cannon Street Road and Watney Market. The MBGC is approximately 5 minutes’ walk from Shadwell DLR and Over-ground stations and approximately 15 minutes’ walk from Whitechapel Tube station.

Directions to MBGC from Shadwell DLR:

Exit down the stairs and turn right out of the DLR Station on to Watney Street. After approximately 50 metres turn left on to Bigland Street. Follow the road around and continue walking for about three minutes past Bigland Green Primary School until you reach the MBGC gate on your right. The centre is set back from the road.

 

Directions to MBGC from London Over ground/ Shadwell Tube:

Exit the station on to Cable Street and turn left.  Take the next left on to Watney Street, past the DLR Station and then follow the directions above.

Extra rehearsal times during Easter Half Term (to be agreed with director & group)

  • Wed 30th March
  • Wed 6th April

 

About Mulberry ATC

An all-female theatre company established in January 2014 driven and led by Mulberry Alumni. The company aims to bridge the important gap between education and the wider professional theatre industry for BAME women, representing a new generation of female theatre makers from the local community of Tower Hamlets.

Its remit is to offer a creative space at the Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre (MBGC) for BAME women in the local community of Tower Hamlets, who enjoy drama, to collaboratively make new and original performances. The group meet weekly to take part in workshops, rehearse for two annual showcase, and work with professional theatre practitioners.

Workshops with leading female Theatre Directors                                                               

Josie Rourke; Artistic Director of Donmar Warehouse     

Date:               Thursday 4th Feb 2016

Location:        Donmar Warehouse

Time:               4.45pm (prompt start)

 

Take part in a workshop with Josie Rourke from 5pm to 7pm before you watch her latest production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses at 7.30pm for only £10!

 

Phyllida Lloyd

Date, time & Location to be confirmed        

 

Vicky Featherstone; Artistic Director of The Royal Court Theatre

Date, time & Location to be confirmed

           

Melly Still

Date, time & Location to be confirmed

 

 

 

 


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