Alix Harris

Story Number:Story-013
Themes: BAME, Leading, networks, Theatre

When I started working with the Barbican Theatre, um, we — I was involved in quite a lot of projects which were around social, social justice. I’m very responsive so I feel like I create work, create theatre pieces, that’s responsive to, um, political or, or social, um, issues, um, and, and to use theatre as a tool to, to do that. Um, I’ve always been gobby! [laughs]. Um — no I have, I think I have always been, um, even when I was at school, um. There was a turning point I guess, um — I was bullied a lot because of the, my colour of my skin at school. And then I got in to, to drama and that gave, that’s where my confidence came from. Um, because I wanted people to see me as the girl who could perform and who could sing rather than, you know, the only brown girl in the year.

Um, so I was working on a project, um, and there was a big project with lots of different theatres involved, um, and it was around migration. And uh, there were auditions coming up and I was working with a group of, of young people of colour and I said, “Oh I hope you guys are auditioning”, and they said, “Oh no we’re not auditioning”. And this girl said, “Oh it’s, it’s not for people like us”. Um, and that really struck a chord with me, because, um — because they’d been on a process with me in terms of like, of making theatre, and they’ve been involved in theatre and they’re actually in it, but then they still have that awareness that if they went and auditioned for something, then it wasn’t for them.

Um, so I got a bit of seed money to go off and do some consultation workshops with other young people of colour and it just came back the same, um. Just things like when they walk in to the theatre it, there’s nothing that’s representative of them, um, people looked at them differently, people kind of look almost fearful of them, other audience members, um… And then I met with that young girl again before she went off to university, and what was really interesting, although she was leaving the city, she said to me, uh, “My one request Alix is that you — could you do something about it”. Having met those other young people and realising that they did need me to do something about it led me to, to create my theatre company. We’re now branching out to the South West rather than just Plymouth, so, the need is, is greater that what I originally anticipated. Um and we’re doing a bit of a, a sector audit in terms of what’s needed for young people of colour in the South West to get more involved in dance and theatre, and then also, uh, what do artists need. So, those that are living in the South West, what sort — what do they need more of from organisations, what do they want to do, is there stuff that’s preventing them from creating work in the South West, and trying to find out what that is. Um, and then also, what is needed for artists of colour that live outside the South West to bring their work and for it to be programmed, um, uh, down here as well. The co- my company, myself, like, it’s in a really positive place. So although I think sometimes activism can be seen to be talking about something neg- like, it can be sometimes seen as negative — as much as the world feels like a very negative place at the moment, I think it’s kind of pulling out the positive things about it and realising that actually all of these movements and all of these, you know, activists that are coming forward is actually really exciting.