Theatre makers Roya Amiri and Dave Windass have received an Arts Council England award to research and create a new full-length play.
The Grants for the Arts award will see the development of Yalda: Iranian Woman, an original piece of work about a half-Iranian, half-British woman. The research stage of the project will also involve workshops with community groups looking at contemporary themes, issues and storytelling techniques. The project has also received support from Hull City Council.
Roya Amiri said: “We intend to create a funny, energetic and hard-hitting picture of adolescence, womanhood and an exploration of the impact of diaspora on second-generations. Ultimately, we’ll be creating a piece of work that will entertain and also make people think. There is an absence of work about the Iranian community and also about the generation that I am a part of.
“We feel very happy to be given the opportunity to tell this story. I feel that while things have improved vastly in recent years, it was difficult for many people of mixed-race to grow up in the north, and in places like Hull, in the 1980s. Not only that, but the internal culture clashes within the home life can make for interesting, amusing and conflicting stories. That story certainly hasn’t been told from an Iranian perspective so we’re delighted to be able to address that.”
Dave Windass said: “The text will be based on first-hand, real-life stories and also informed by outreach and workshops with community participants. Yalda is a really exciting project to be a part of and we both look forward to collaborating on what we feel is an important piece of theatre. We feel very privileged to have the backing of Arts Council England and Hull City Council and to be able to work on a piece that we are both very passionate about.
“There are lots of untold stories that deserve their place on the stage. This is just one of many. We hope that, as we work towards the development of a full script, we can also encourage other people from diverse backgrounds to tell their stories too.”
Amiri and Windass previously worked together on the recent Ensemble 52 production The Whitsun Weddings. Yalda is the first in a number of creative projects the two theatre makers plan to bring to the stage.
Arts Council England have supported the costs of the project with a grant of £8,901. Hull City Council’s City Arts Unit’s Grants to Arts Fund has provided an additional £1,000.
The completed script will be performed in early 2015 alongside an evening of storytelling performed by workshop participants, before the play is developed further.