Elizabeth Pearl from South Sudan Women’s Association interviewed by Mayowa Olowoselu for Black History Month
My interview with EA was really insightful. It was wonderful to learn about how her charity has positively impacted her community for years. I learned so much about the South Sudan Women’s Association and I look forward to hearing about their future projects.
I had a great conversation with actress Samantha Pearl, on a grey afternoon over the phone. The conversation flowed easily and was a wonderful chance to hear about the perspective of a black woman in the film and tv industry. I learned so much from her and I hope you enjoy our conversation. Thank you so much to Samantha for speaking to me, make sure you check out her latest appearance on Ghosts by BBC.
In 2020, Pascal Theatre Company (PTC) put a call out to women whose lives, and mental and physical health had been disrupted by Covid and the enforced isolation of lockdown. Respondents were offered a platform to express their feelings, plus the opportunity to work with expert theatre and literary practitioners to explore and develop their ideas.
Forward a year and the ever-resourceful Creative Director of PTC, Julia Pascal, found a way to extend the reach of the project – by collaborating with students from The London Contemporary Dance School at The Place Theatre and professional performers to create a promenade performance piece for the 2021 Bloomsbury Festival based on several of the Giving Voice submissions.
An immersive improvisation/rehearsal process explored the imaginative connections between dance, speech and memory, interweaving song, bodywork and cabaret-style performance to share the hidden stories brought to light by the project.
Charlotte Salomon, born in 1917 Berlin to a Jewish family, is best known for Leben? Oder Theater?: Ein Singspiel (Life? Or Theatre?: A Song-Play). An early example of the graphic novel form, itis a series of images accompanied by text and music cues that tells a semi-fictionalised account of Salomon’s life.
When Salomon was nine, her mother committed suicide. Charlotte was told that she had died from influenza. It wasn’t until 1938, when Salomon had been sent from Nazi Germany to live with her grandparents in the South of France, that her grandfather told her the truth. She was also told about multiple other female members of the family who had killed themselves.
Click onto the One Lost Stonewebsite, a ‘digital travel guide’ to the history of Sephardi Jews in England, and you are brought to a collage of photographs suggesting a face. Although the fragments share a colour palette, the image fractures. Its refusal to meld into one coherent picture is why collage is a particularly apt medium for the website’s aesthetic. It militates against the ‘melting pot’ philosophy which requires the immigrant to adopt the cultural norms of the host society.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Ags Irwin who was a great inspiration to the Company. At the end of her life, she generously contributed to our Giving Voice project, see more here.
We now wish to add a poem written during Covid, her bitter-sweet Lockdown Pie . She wrote it during the terrible year of confinement while undergoing treatment for cancer.
Ags never complained and she fought for every day of her life to be one of joy, humour and pleasure. She will be missed but we will always have her voice.
Theatre is international and transgressive. With its roots in circus, Commedia dell’arte and carnival, it is vulgar and challenging.
What was my first theatre? Punch and Judy fighting in a booth on a Lancashire beach? A small dance band where I sang Que Sera, Sera as a precocious ten-year-old? Dancing in the Blackpool Summer Dance Festival? Daring to play Cleopatra at 17 with the local boys’ school?
Was it watching May Britt and Sammy Davis Jr in Blue Angel with my Romanian grandparents in a Manchester cinema? (That was the nearest they could get to the European theatre they had lost.)
Was it during my drama school training, when we toured Twelfth Night to an international theatre festival? I still see the other students and my teenage self, sitting in a sports stadium in Sofia as the Czechs theatrically demonstrated against the Russian invasion…
This past year there has been no theatre. But the impulse to write drama is unstoppable. I have written two new plays and tidied up older ones. I have Zoomed and supported others, who did not know they could, to make theatre from their own lives, as part of our Giving Voice project. I am currently plotting new ways to make performance outside as we move away from the plague.
No virus can stop drama. It is the modus operandi of our politicians and our semi-feudal monarchy. We crave theatre, the show, the performance, the play. Only in English is it ‘the play’. In French, it is une pièce de théâtre; in German, ein Theaterstück: atheatre piece. But in the English language we play, and when the virus is dead, we shall play as we have never played before.
Julia Pascal, Artistic Director of Pascal Theatre Company