Transforming Narratives Exchange

Due to Covid 19 and the closure of schools in Pakistan, as well as the involvement of multi-disciplinary artist Rinkoo Barpaga, the R&D has transformed into a photography project.

Emerging West Midlands based deaf actors Yann Charlot and Leigh Blake with Theatre maker Rinkoo Barpaga

Deaf people are the hidden citizens of the world. They operate using their own languages, cultures and communities. Though engagement with the deaf community through the arts is on the increase in Birmingham, predominantly lead and supported by Birmingham Rep theatre, wider engagement with the arts in the young Deaf Pakistani community is minimal. The Pakistani Deaf community is a diaspora within a diaspora. Rinkoo Barpaga is a ground breaking emerging theatre maker, having been supported and produced by Deaf Explorer winning two arts council project grants, an Unlimited R&D theatre commission and an arts council DYCP grant, and last year applying and being awarded a place in Birmingham Rep Theatre’s artist development programme, The Foundry. Supported by Deaf Explorer as producers and Rachael Veazey as creative enabler, Rinkoo is now in a position to inspire and lead a new generation of PoC deaf artists who are both desperate for opportunities, but also not able to access opportunities when they arise due to lack of interpreting support, but also a cultural perception that they are not able to engage with the arts as they are not white, hearing people. Birmingham has a very large community of Deaf young people who’s families originate from Pakistan, yet they are underrepresented at all most all levels of the Deaf community, let alone the hearing community. Rinkoo recently performed an excerpt of the one-man play he wrote during his foundry residence, Made In India/Britain, to over 70 deaf PoC people, and the overwhelming feedback from the community was that they would like to make theatre work and allow their stories and voices to be platformed, but there was no opportunity to do this. Deaf Explorer and Rinkoo believe that Transforming Narratives, could be the start of theatrical engagement with this hard-to-reach community and with Rinkoo as a cultural leader. We will look at shared experiences in the Deaf communities of Pakistan and Birmingham, histories, stories and what it means to be a Deaf citizen in 2020.