The People Speak is an arts collective that encourages people to talk to one another and creatively engaged in stimulating debate. They do this mainly via Talkaoke; a live-streamed, interactive talkshow. We used the Talkaoke format create a podcast, with all of those we had already spoken to as well as open it up to the wider public and anyone else who wanted to attend. The event was such a humbling experience for both Margot and myself. Not only were the people who we’d already contacted able to share their stories on a wider scale but we had people calling in from all over the globe, including someone who was raised by Ukrainian parents in Bradford and was now living in Canada where it was 4am! It was honestly just an incredible event and everyone in attendance reiterated how having these stories heard and shared felt like a long-time coming and something they wanted to see more of.
And whilst the Talkaoke truly was an unforgettable occasion, our aim was still to bring these stories to life as pieces of theatre. With that in mind, and as restrictions slowly ease, we are currently making plans to workshop the stories we have over the coming weeks and record a series of monologues with professional actors. These will be a mixture of Polish and Ukrainian stories, told in English, and we are hoping to engage the local Eastern European community as well as the wider city itself.
It goes without saying that none of our work so far would have been possible without the support of Bradford Producing Hub, Bradford Council as well as the individuals who all came forward and shared their personal stories with us.
Since embarking on the project, we have been able to come up to Bradford for a special Talkaoke session in Oastler Square, which was an eye-opening experience, helping us situate Destination Bradford in the contemporary context of the city. We have received funding from the Bradford City Council’s Bradford for Everyone – an initiative that promotes community cohesion within the city and empowers the citizens to take ownership of their neighbourhood. The event was also part of the Polish Heritage Days – an annual celebration of the Polish culture, history and contributions Poles have made and continue making to the UK.