10 Years Gone Over … Find Me Amongst The Black

Fats Begum missed it then.. she's been begging for the footage since.

FIND ME AMONGST THE BLACK

I’ve just watched it now, now!   Ten years over gone!

I knew it was on at the mac, but I was busy with family stuff and then kids. I remember wanting to go becuase Parv was involved, he was a good writer. I always thought it was a play, but having just watched it, I like it better, a kind of non play – a dance theatre. Better told that way, a bit like a film. You don’t want to hear too many words about a subject you already know, words sometimes just take the emotion away, you need more than words to describe this kind of experience.

The way this production was done there was more emphasis on emotion and you are down with it.  Like, what’s words going to do when you know the story – it’s been out in the news and you already know the characters – they are out there. The way ‘Find Me..’ added the emotional dimension it made you think, kind of re-evaluate the context of the riots and what they’ve meant to Brum and further… Britain.

The Birmingham riots of 2005 occurred over two days in Lozells and Handsworth between Caribbean and British Asian communities.

It all started as a rumour… a whisper spreading like fire.  It said a Caribbean girl was raped by Asian men in Lozells.  Djs on pirates like Hot 92 started fanning it all way to Handsworth that there were up to 25 men and she was just a child, like 14 years something. She was caught stealing from a beauty shop and in exchange for not grassing her to police – (afraid of being deported she was) – they demanded sex. Then it all kicked off, things went mental, shops got looted, cars torched. For two days people were finding their darker sides. They were saying Lozells ‘had something to prove’ and there were people getting on radio hoping ‘Asian women are getting their throat cut’. It was all messed up. The rumour that had spread got two kids Isaiah Young Sam and Aaron James killed, stabbed! Just a waste of life.

Almost fifteen  years later, still no one can prove the girl existed, she never had a name – did it happen?  It shows what lies beneath our communities, where we live.  It can be evil or it can be good. Sometime one comes after the other, sometime one needs to happen to get to the other.  But it did all come good – yeah, there was blame, but on the whole the communities came together after.

I love Birmingham. It is my home and where I have lived since childhood. Whenever I go out of Brum, I am glad to come back, but it has changed over the last decade, changed in a good way… like inter racial relationships are more common and accepted.  Families seem to be a lot more liberal and open to other cultures.  As a Muslim living in Birmingham there are more places to socialise and dine out. I feel Birmingham is a family friendly city and that people have taken into consideration other diverse communities and have geared businesses towards that. You see more dessert cafes and shisha lounges, as well as grill houses and Turkish restaurants.

I rarely used to venture out into the city, feeling claustrophobic and congested, now it feels more open even though it is busier than ever with the demolition of the old library and the construction work that is going on. It feels that Birmingham is moving forward and that there will be opportunities for our young people, although with the loss of the Youth Services, young people don’t have anywhere to go, so this can result in them being led astray. I do see a lot more young people just hanging around on the streets. So on the other hand, you never know.

Would the ‘Find Me’ story happen today? Of course it can.  That’s an old conflict… brothers would still ‘straighten’ their sisters to keep the honour.., and the way the police story happens, that also happens, but shouldn’t , they can’t  just step back and not bother and say it’s what their culture wants them to do.  It’s not!  Watching how that unfolded in ‘Find Me..’ – is a bit unsettling.

 

In that way ‘Find Me..’ works in a kind of ‘what if…?  What if, an inter-racial love story between the different communities where you were being seen as one and then it gets ‘factioned?   And then Police make use of those factions?  I like the way Parv wrote that exchange – when the ‘Voice’ representing police and authority comments – “I quite like the theory that we were all descended from Africa” like we were all black once, only to be contradicted by the character saying “he meant black as in Black Britons”.

I also liked the beginning to the second half – the way the mother brings the daughter back into the bosom of the family and the community, after the harshness she receives from her brother. The dance is emotional and gets you …and then the ending is striking, three different Kathak dancers – white, black and Asian come together to represent unity in the community and hope for a better future.  It’s getting like that.. soon, I hope.

There was a screenplay written too but the film project got shelved.  That had a interesting spin on it – different characters but the spine same – Boy Meets Girl .. fall in love and and all is not good…

Provoked by the Birmingham riots of 2005, zeroculture created Find Me Amongst the Black, a sensitised and emotionally charged  new work of a world where ‘black’ was once a common identity, but now fragmented…    Using multi-disciplinary forms the dance-theatre was made through collaboration between Director Choreographer Darshan Singh Bhuller, Writer Parv Bancil, Designer Kit Monkman and Producer Hardial S. Rai – incorporated film to interface with visual dialogues in theatrical situations shaped by contemporary dance, kathak and bharatyanatyam.
A screenplay by Hardial S.Rai commissioned by Film Council followed in 2008  but did not go into production.

 

 

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Provoked by the Birmingham riots of 2005, this bold and highly charged work explores the once common  ‘black’  identity,  incorporating film to interface with visual dialogues in theatrical situations. This moving and disturbing story uses movement involving various dance styles, including south Asian forms of kathak and bharatyanatyam.

Commissioned by the Southbank centre and mac birmingham

 

 

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