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Race and Identity at heart of new play heading to PAC

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Yorkshire’s very own Red Ladder Theatre Company is heading back to Pocklington Arts Centre later this month with a brand new production which explores race and identity. 

My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored has been produced by Red Ladder Theatre Company with support from Oldham Coliseum Theatre and Leeds Playhouse where it opens later this week as part of its world premiere UK tour. 

PAC director, Janet Farmer, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Red Ladder Theatre Company back to PAC with this gripping and thought provoking new production. 

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“Red Ladder are a highly reputable and radical national touring company producing top quality plays, so to have them return to PAC as part of their world premiere UK tour is just wonderful.”

The gripping drama takes the audience to the centre of a discussion that asks ‘if you see something you do not agree with, do you intervene’?

The stage debut of writer Nana-Kofi Kufuor is an interrogation of black identity for which he has drawn on his own experience of growing up in Stockport with Ghanaian parents and working in education with young people from a range of backgrounds.

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“The crux of this play is how two people react to the same situation. They go on a journey, a journey a lot of people of colour go on, a realisation that where you are now isn’t necessarily where you come from,” Kofi said. 

“When working at a Pupil Referral Unit, I once had a student take a knife to stab another student. Once I’d calmed him down, we sat in the canteen, and he explained to me he wasn’t going to go quietly. 

“The police were outside, and they took him. I saw him a few weeks later, and he asked why I didn’t help him? That rush of guilt changed to anger and quickly to sympathy as he saw me as his protector. But I knew I couldn’t do anything.”

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My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored opens with 15-year-old Reece (Jelani D’Aguilar) being roughly accosted by police. 

His young, Black teacher Gillian (Misha Duncan-Barry) witnesses it all but doesn’t question or intervene as the disturbing scene plays out. 

The consequences of her lack of action erupt the following day when Gillian finds herself locked in a classroom with Reece.

Director Dermot Daly said: “I was really taken by the conceit and breadth of themes and ideas. 

“Thematically it’s huge, but ostensibly it’s about the meaning and creation of identity which is something that affects us all. 

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“Neither character is who they want to be. but both appear to be trapped, robbed of agency, this perception in them and hopefully of the audience shifts quite dramatically as we progress. Worry not, there are a few gags in there.”

For the past five decades Red Ladder has been producing new writing by voices whose work is often unheard. 

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Whilst its work tours nationally, its roots are in Yorkshire where it has curated a circuit of non-theatre spaces such as working men’s clubs, sports and socials, and community hubs.

“We’re very excited to be working with Nana-Kofi Kufuor. This important play addresses key issues about race and identity at a time when society needs to heal division and strife,” said the company’s artistic director, Rod Dixon.

“We’ve brought together a fantastic creative team and look forward to bringing this new work to the people of Pocklington.”

My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored will be at PAC on Thursday 25 November at 7.30pm. Suitable for ages 14+. 

Tickets are £12 (Adults), £8.00 (Under 18s). For more information and to book tickets visit www.pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01759 301547. 

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