Tenebrae: Lessons Learnt in Darkness (for Brighton Festival)

I was honoured to be selected as one of the fifteen commissioned writers for this Brighton Festival project!

On May 22nd, from dawn until dusk, the Theatre Royal will be taken over by a soundscape installation – which you can read more about on the festival website. The installation has been worked on by a team of eight artists and will fill the theatre with sound and light. The project acknowledges a year of collective grief and courage in which many have felt their lives slipping into the shadows.

In a series of workshops led by author and theatre-maker Neil Bartlett and poet and performer Akila Richards, fifteen local writers (me being one of them) listened, explored and responded to François Couperin’s Leçons de ténèbres – a haunting piece of music composed in 1714.

After a month of workshops and exploration, I wrote a lamentation that explored healing, breath, shame and the ancestral trauma felt by racialised bodies – all themes that have been very present for me throughout the last year.

Today, part of my poem was released as a short video excerpt (created by Rosaleigh Harvey-Otway):

Click here to see all of the fifteen films.

And click here to read/download all of the poems.

You can listen to/read my poem below:

As well as François Couperin’s Leçons de ténèbres, when writing A City Stretches I was inspired by many other sources, such as:

Maisy Card’s novel These Ghosts Are Family, participating in Pranayama practice with comebreathe.co, paintings like My Mother Earth Is Black Like Me by John Lyons, music like Concrete Jungle by Bob Marley & The Wailers and Hustle by Sons of Kemet & Kojey Radical, conversations and reflection around ancestral trauma and ‘Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome’, many different cities, fields and seas… and my own experiences of stretching, breathing, feeling, healing and stamping my feet. 


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