The final films in Talawa Theatre Company’s urgent and compelling online series, Tales from the Front Line, will be released on their website at midday on Monday 26th April. This powerful series used verbatim interviews with Black key workers to explore their relationships with British society, and the impact that the Windrush Scandal, the global Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic has had on their perceptions of belonging.
On Wednesday 31st March, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities concluded that the country is not institutionally racist; many disagree. The stories in Tales from the Front Line demand that a changed society must emerge in a post-pandemic world.
As Adjoa Andoh (Bridgerton; Fractured) shares the words of a teacher in voiceover, TYPT Movement Director Yami Löfvenberg and alumna Akadi Sankofa use the interviewee’s own exercise and dance regime to bring the fifth film to life as directed by Talawa’s Artistic Director, Michael Buffong. As she weighs up her distrust of disinformation with her unease with the institutions promoting the vaccine, she makes a choice to protect herself and the children who just sometimes need a hug.
Directed by Talawa’s New Work Producer, Ifrah Ismail, the final film is something entirely different altogether: it is inspired by how the testimonies collected highlighted self-care and resilience-building as a key to surviving and growing in modern Britain. With writing, choreography, music and performance by Chisara Agor, who is also a TYPT alumnus, the audience has a moment to breathe and ground themselves.
Michael Buffong, Talawa’s Artistic Director, comments, From the start I wanted Tales from the Frontline to create a lasting historical record of the stories of Black people on the front line of the Covid crisis; it’s achieved that. ‘Tales’ was one of the central parts of Talawa’s digital response to the closures brought about by the Pandemic. These simple yet soulful stories have struck a chord with communities across the globe.
No one can claim that Black people were not present on the frontline of Britain’s Covid crisis.
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 were a space for Black workers to share their experiences, their concerns and their hopes for the future. Black artists and creatives have then used the testimonies to create a work to convey the story with humour and hope.
Talawa are an Arts Council England NPO. Tales from the Front Line has been supported by Croydon Council’s Culture Relief Fund.