written by Nafisah Kara / History and Politics Student / De Montfort University
Soul City Arts is a non profit organisation headed by graffiti artist Mohammed Ali. Their upcoming theatre show is to be showcased at the MAC Birmingham in
If Walls could speak is a unique, localized production that focuses on Sparkbrook as a microcosm of Britain’s immigration history and integration experience. Starting from the 1940s and prevailing into the present day; crucial themes are explored during the performance binding social justice, ethnic identity, the struggle of assimilation and resistance to racial discrimination from the dominant society. The variance in scenes gives a wide insight to ethnic experiences and contrasts ranging from addressing problems of different ethnic minorities to recent contradictions in Britain’s culture and urban society.
Set in Sparkbrook- The production focuses on contemporary issues such as the intrusive tendency of society through CCTV and the control of public spaces by those in positions of power. From pondering over the meanings within the production it really does call out social justice. Social justice to take back what is ours. Social justice to uncover the hardships of immigration and identity. It’s an expression of anger displayed within the confines of beautiful melody and visual arts. It’s a redefining of public space but also of our minds, to conquer the prejudices we have and to embrace our differences.
The research compiled to compose the performance is in its own right a preservation of oral histories, gang members, to an Irish labourer, to prominent community members who have aided to create this diverse performance. What is most interesting is it revives the ancient tradition of storytelling practised throughout times unifying it with Graffiti; a contemporary art form.
If Wall’s could speak is no average play or production- it’s a unique experience which defies any category of art and performance. It breaks the traditional confines and does not dictate any message to the viewer allowing one to interpret the scenes freely.
In terms of entertainment this open box theatre show has something for everybody. It is underpinned by a live musical score led by jazz legend Cleveland Watkiss, Drum & Base’s MC Conrad will also be performing during the show. Whilst our ears dance to the music, our eyes will be teased with a visual arts set by UK’s finest ‘Mohammed Ali aka AerosolArabic’ creating spectacular art on the spot.
This production is not to be missed! If Walls Could Speak is indeed an international story about home, community and the way we all respond to change, told through local eyes but relevant to all. It is a true challenge to the social fabric of our society performed through reminiscing on the past. It’s a bridge to understand communities and the location is most perfect. Sparkbrook. The gateway of Birmingham.