A young Brixton theatre company this week premiered One, a series of short films exploring race.
Live streamed, One uses a combination of dance, drama, music and poetry to illuminate the everyday experiences of Black people in a white society.
Yellow Box is a Brixton-based theatre company and is focussed on telling stories about the local community.
Creative director Ruth Allier-Dugdale says the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis and the ensuing pain and anger across the world was her inspiration for production.
She wanted to use theatre to increase the understanding – largely of white people – of the realities of racism, and to move the conversation forward.
Each short film explores the different ways in which racism is experienced.
Sometimes they tell a a well-known story – Resilience relives the anger of the local community following the shooting by police of Cherry Groce at her home in Brixton in 1985.
“We will not be treated as worthless …” captures and signifies the rage of that moment.
Other films address more complex issues including race as a social construct rather than a human category.
Reflections deals with race from the perspective of a classroom and a child. It is a celebration of diversity and cultural difference alongside a growing awareness of white privilege and racial disadvantage.
“You’re pretty for a black girl” – words spoken by a white boyfriend – is the setting for Beauty, a piece about the beauty of the Black body and features.
It challenges the notion that shapes, colours and features of white people set the standard by which all other human bodies should be judged.
Hope confronts head on the “ignorance and hate, alienation and fear” which lie at the root of racism, but ends on a positive note that that things can get better via “the great exchange of ignorance for knowledge”.
These are intensely personal and powerful pieces.
The writers, choreographers and the cast work together to expose the raw emotions provoked both by the deliberate acts and thoughtless assumptions of white people.
There is understandable anger, but also tolerance, resilience and hope.
The films feature Sara Osaya, Sheba Kabubi, Sarah Rabone, Benjamin Aluwihare, Natasha Stiven, Rachael Ridley and Kemi Kentebe.
They are written by Isaac Tendo, Yasmin Hylton, Sheba Kabubi and Ruth Allier-Dugdale and directed by Ruth Allier-Dugdale.
Cinematography by Thomas Lee; editors Roshi Thevasagayam and Catherine Rose.
One will be live streamed until 5 December. You can book a free viewing
Yellow Box theatre is not-for-profit and committed to ethical practice, despite the financial challenges in the arts for small independent organisations. You can donate here.