Lockdown monologues

Crafting conversations about life in lockdown

Actor, Martina Laird Credit: Steve Medlin

By Duncan Sones, Communications and development lead. Collage Arts

The Covid-19 virus hit the Black community hard. Collage Arts, the Haringey based arts development agency wanted to find a way to offer support and create a unique record of how Black women, in particular, were coping.

We devised a project called Creative Futures: Picking up the threads, using funding from Arts Council England. This enabled us to work with 75 women from across the borough.

Collage Arts collaborated with Tottenham based organisation, KORI to produce a series of crafted conversations with young Black women.

These conversations show how Covid’s impact was felt by anyone who was
already vulnerable. But many of the conversations were also optimistic and
forward looking.

“Not surprisingly we found some great talent in Tottenham which can now be seen online,” said Preeti Dasgupta, deputy director of Collage Arts.

“We wanted to know what the participating women were thinking. The Black Lives Matter movement impacted on the work the women were creating in a very positive way. It seemed to us that Black women seemed to be on the front line of tackling Covid-19.”

Eight women created videos we called ‘Lockdown monologues’, where the writers had a choice of working with a director and reading their own work, or working with an actor to bring their writing to the screen.

Runway of life by Maxine Griffiths is a video love letter to Tottenham that is based on true events, and is brought to life by actor Donna Berlin.

Rosanna Machado opted to tell her own story, titled Corona Busting Choons. She worked with actor, director and activist Martina Laird (best known for playing Comfort Jones in Holby City), to talk about the importance of music to her and her friends during lockdown.

Martina said: “Working with Rosanna was a really positive experience. She had great ideas about what she wanted to say. As we worked together her confidence grew. Her video reminds us how import music and friends are.”

The final element of the project were 20 diaries which have been produced as an e-book. Preeti said: “As we held the workshops for writers online, we were able to work with women who were shielding. The writing programme happened over six months, therefore each of the women record their ups and downs. I am in no doubt that keeping their journals and attending the programme had a big impact on the mental health of the women taking part.

“Everyone involved in this creative process were Black women. This means that the stories selected and how they are presented creates an authentic and unmistakable voice – which is rarely heard in mainstream media.

“We knew that there was a lot of talent in Tottenham and we are now seeking funds for more projects.”

To see ‘Lockdown Monologues’ :visit collage-arts.org/collage-on-line