Rewriting Rural Racism was devised in the summer of 2020 in response to the growing awareness of the Black Lives Matter Movement. It was a springboard project which aimed to make Sheringham Little Theatre’s programme more racially diverse.
The project was created by four young performers who grew up participating in Sheringham Little Theatre’s community work. The focus on rural racism was decided because, while Norfolk is made up largely from white communities, there are incredible stories, which are not always known, about Norfolk’s migration history. So the team wanted to raise awareness of the migration that has shaped East Anglia. Similarly, the founding team wanted to start conversations which were not happening naturally, due to an absence of multi-culturalism in Norfolk compared to other areas.
The project celebrated all ethnic identities while also raising awareness of how racism can scar a person’s character and confidence and highlighted the talent of artists and members of the Norfolk community, who had powerful stories to tell.
The first phase of Rewriting Rural Racism, which was funded by the Arts Council, finished in April 2021, but its legacy will continue through various forms within Sheringham Little Theatre.
Sheringham Little Theatre’s Youth Group participating in one of the youth theatre workshops
Virtual, interactive, sessions for high schools and drama groups.
The high school workshops discussed how to be actively anti-racist alongside celebrating all identities.
The youth theatre workshops showcased the work of creatives of colour.
A one man show featuring Ashton Owen.
Outskirts, was a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age story, written and performed by Ashton Owen. Set in North Norfolk, we followed Aiden’s journey as he navigated his ﬁnal years of high school. Due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions, this performance was recorded on-stage and screened for audiences online with signing and closed caption.
WE ARE ONE
Series of Short Films
We Are One was a series of short films which highlighted the county’s migration history and showed how migration is something which has always happened. The films were made in partnership with the Kick the Dust Programme. One ﬁlm is an animated timeline of migration, dating back to pre-historic times. The others explore people’s experiences and own histories today, through interviews and performances.
Rapper COLL is creating the soundtrack for the films and Piers the Poet is narrating the series. The films have been named and shaped by local young people and the animation is being dispersed around local schools. Anyone interested in using any of the films as a learning resource, should please contact the Theatre directly.
MEET THE FOUNDERS
Katie ThompsonProject Coordinator
“The Little Theatre prides itself on its work within the community but with this, comes a responsibility to be reﬂective of everyone who makes up this community. Rewriting Rural Racism was the start of this and while some of the stories are hard to listen to, pairing these with the continual contributions of local migrants, helps to combat the cultural stigmatisation which can sometimes be found. The work started conversations which meant that Black History was not only taught in October.”
Ashton OwenWorkshop Facilitator and Writer-Performer
“The workshops started students on a journey into parts of British history that are not always taught in schools, they saw students having new discussions and encouraged them to embrace their true identities. As a young mixed-race person growing up in Norfolk, I would have beneﬁted from sessions but so would my white peers. The workshops were a positive experience for all young people. I also hope that we will be able to make theatre in Norfolk more inclusive for people of colour.”
Tilda Fassih Workshop Facilitator
“I wanted to get involved in the project for a number of reasons. Being able to engage with the students in our local area and introducing them to ideas of race and helping them understand identity, is something I would have loved to have been a part of when I was younger.”
Daisy Winchester Community Engagement Worker
“We hope the work that the project created, made those involved feel more knowledgeable and aware of racism today and provided them with the conﬁdence on how they can hopefully, one day, help put a stop to racism.”