Everyone’s experience of having a family member or friend with autism is different but the common denominator in 2022 is that there are real opportunities and options for both neurotypical and non -neurotypical individuals. There are so many possibilities today as I know from personal experience. A young person with autism, who leaves school with few GCSE’s, can live independently. This could mean become a Teaching Assistant in a school for special needs, earning money and paying taxes. The importance of a diagnosis of autism can be unbelievably helpful to the individual for several reasons. It helps people with autism (and their families) understand why they may experience certain difficulties and what can be done about them. It also – and this is really important – means that we can help others to understand and increase autism- awareness. We should share our stories, reach out to friends, and those we don’t know, to encourage and show others that together we can celebrate our differences and achievements.
Theatre and storytelling is in our DNA. We crave stories, we want to be excited, shocked, bewildered and stimulated.
Theatre is the thrill of the live performance, the buzz that cannot be found onscreen. And, we are told as writers that all drama must have conflict.
Football is theatre. Monarchy is theatre. Bodies are cut in the operating theatre. Combat is a theatre of war. All these elements are part of our lives and, in the West, we say it is the Greeks who have formed the essence of theatre that is still our source.
Here is my take on a contemporary Medea, a Kurdish refugee on the London streets. It was produced at the Finborough Theatre in 2019.
Lennie Varvarides from Dyspla interviewed by Ronnie Krupa for Pascal Theatre Company for Neurodivergent Awareness Week
How did you first get involved with performing arts?
When you say first — how far back do you really want me to go? I can go back — way back to my first memory of being in front of people singing, ‘I’m A Little Teapot’, with all the other children in nursery school. It was my first theatrical experience — being in front of people and sharing something of myself. Our first memories inform us in profound ways. My 5-year-old self is not that different from this adult me. I still want to be part of a collective — a community of performers and makers and artists.
In the dojo, when I had a man down on the mat, all I could feel was the kitchen chef’s burn-marked hands crawling all over me, his gold signet ring, cold against my neck. Now when I looked down at DCI Jones there was no ring pressing into my skin. The policeman slapped the mat. It was over. I had won. This was gold. Pure gold. Clare
I train with other girls. The Turks are coming. We must be ready. The Turks take us. I go to prison for two weeks. I am 12. When I come home from prison my mother says I saw you. What happened? I say nothing. I feed the bird. I kiss her new baby………..One year in Iran. Recruiting girls to the Kurdish side. I go to Armenia. Six months in Erevan. I am fighting for us Kurds. Iraq, Syria, Turkey. Deniz
Greta Thunberg. It’s not just a woman, it’s also a very young woman, and she has inspired me so much, a very young individual that can teach the world to be better and to fight for the planet. E (f 11)
Martha Gellhorn was a big influence on me, as a literary figure, as a brave woman, she was a war journalist, American living in Britain. Loud mouth, spoken mind. J (f 70s)
My mum. She was working from when she left university and she was in a mostly male-dominated field, and she did really well and she’s still doing really well. D (f 12)
Women who have had authority and I noticed their justice – being just rather than to take the side of one or another. Al (m 83)
English is often said to have the largest vocabulary, but do you sometimes struggle to find the right word? Can you find what you want to say in another language? Perhaps we can help you fill some blanks in your English dictionary. Take our quiz and find out how multi-lingual you are or add to your vocabulary. We would like to mark International Mother Tongue Day recognising the richness of languages around us.
1) What do you think:
a)‘talkoot’ means i) to talk a lot ii) is an animal like an antelope iii) means people helping with spring cleaning?
‘talkoot’ is i) a Finnish word ii) a Scottish word iii) an olde English word
2) What is your mood today – Is it positive or negative? Are you:
a) ‘Eho kefi’ b) ‘Muterseelenallein’ c) fighting your ‘Innerer Schweinehund’
or do you have
d) a ‘hiraeth’ for something
e) or ‘Fernweh’
3) animals suffer from the way we treat them in language
Which animal is used in the expression ‘Kurczę blade’ (Oh blimey)?
4) What language and the meaning?
‘Mă duc ca să am de unde să mă intorc’
‘prinést modré nebe’
‘Boka cerrada no entran moskas’
5) When we asked for contributions for our quiz, we are sure can guess the topic that was most popular!
Food, of course, but what ,when and where would you eat:
“Europe’s Roma and Sinti people (often labelled as ‘Gypsies’ historically) were targeted by the Nazis for total destruction. The Porrajmos, or Porajmos, which translates to ‘the Devouring’, is the term used to describe the Nazi genocide of Europe’s Roma and Sinti population.”
Here are the final moments of our production of The Dybbuk.
You can kill a people but you can never kill their culture.
The ghosts remain to haunt the next generations.
I know it sounds strange but I am haunted by faces, different accents, different bodies, all the lost cousins and aunts and uncles who I want to have known. I see a blonde woman, a dark man, a curly redhead, a fair boy. I don’t know who they are but they often come to me in dreams. They say that a person can be filled with the soul of another and that soul, which has died too early, is a dybbuk, but I, I, I, have so many dybbuks.
Ruth’s services to the Holocaust Memorial Trust are recognised by the government. We honour her for her courage, her curiosity, intelligence and huge contribution to Pascal Theatre Company. As a performer with our ensemble, she has delighted audiences in Britain, Germany, Austria and France. Most recently she has been talking to children in schools about her childhood escape from the Warsaw Ghetto.Testimony is a powerful weapon against hatred.We are proud that she is a Board member and offer mazel tov!
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Pascal Theatre Company’s former Financial Director Kate Barazetti. Kate served the company for many years, using her phenomenal skill with numbers to help an enterprise she supported – something she also did for City Limits magazine, the Africa Centre, International PEN, Space Studios and many others.
More than simply an accountant, she was a great humanitarian whose gift for friendship and hospitality spanned generational and social divides. She was fearless, forthright and funny, always finding ways to play the system and fight for the rights of those excluded or badly served by it.
Having left school at 16, Kate learnt book-keeping at an early age. She finally completed her education by doing a degree and master’s in gender studies at London’s Birkbeck University in her fifties. She went on to set up the feminist news website Aviva from her front room. She later found her métier as a teacher, first teaching English to newly arrived refugees and then working on access to social science courses. She continued teaching – and working as an accountant – well into her seventies.
What does Black History Month mean for you? Is it tokenism?
I’m very interested in black history. I had a lot of questions. I’m Nigerian so everything I knew about being black was related to being Nigerian. The older I got the more people I was meeting who had similar stories but in different contexts. Black history month is the chance to learn all of these stories and how they connect and also I just love history and I just like to know how things developed, how we got here. So, I don’t think black history month is tokenism. It’s significant to look at how things change and where we are now.
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.
PASCAL THEATRE COMPANY is among 925 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards from the Culture Recovery Fund.
We are pleased that the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund permits us to sustain our activities as we extend multidisciplinary arts projects to new communities and audiences in London and North West England.
Director Julia Pascal says
We are delighted with the grant.It acknowledges our recent work which includes new communities within imaginative arts projects in unusual spaces. We gather stories from the marginalised and reveal them through text, film, drama and dance.
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