Session info

Tapestry is a participatory theatre-in-education tour for 13-18 year olds which explores the implications and consequences of extremist thinking and action.

Each session:

  • Works with one class/group (no more than 35 young people) at a time
  • Requires the use of a hall (or similar sized space)
  • Lasts approximately 1 hour 45 minutes

Around a week prior to our visit, the tour leader for the programme will call to arrange start times for the sessions. Although this can be arranged in advance by calling the office on: 0121 265 4425.

The programme is delivered by three teacher/actors who will all bring photo ID and a copy of their enhanced DBS forms on the day. They will require roughly 45-60 minutes set up time before the session begins. 

As all our work interactive, we design our programmes to work with small groups to ensure meaningful participation for everyone. Please ensure the groups are no larger than stated above. Sessions may be cancelled on the day if larger groups are brought in to the sessions.

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Introduction to Tapestry

“We are one people forever woven together
in a tapestry…”

Roy Barnes

Tapestry is a dynamic theatre-in-education tour for 13-18 year olds which explores the implications and consequences of extremist thinking and action.

Originally devised and toured in 2009, Tapestry provided young people with an opportunity to discuss issues around violent extremism in a safe fictional context. This provided a means by which they could express their own views freely and challenge the views of others.

Young people were given the opportunity to identify what might have made the characters vulnerable to extremism as outlined in the Department for Children, Schools and Families publication “Learning to be Safe Together” and suggested ways to address their vulnerability.

Young people reflected on the implications and consequences of extremist activity and through their engagement with characters in a story and seeing what happens to them, were able to suggest different ways to bring about positive change.

Participants were able to interact, responding directly to the characters in the performance:

Developed in partnership with West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council as part of the Preventing Violent Extremism programme, it provides a unique stimulus for young people, teachers and youth leaders to begin to explore this sensitive and complex issue. Threads of parallel stories are played out crossing community, religious, political and family lines to explore what divides us, what we hold in common and what drives the few to consider taking matters into their own hands.

Islam is about peace, you are bringing shame on Muslims

He has been sucked in – brainwashed

You will be a puppet

What Hassan’s dad meant to say about life being a tapestry is basically life’s full of different people you just have to work out how to make them work together and be peaceful

The programme also initiated conversations with interested adults and provided them with a resource to continue or begin conversations with their colleagues or the young people with whom they work.

You guys were great you hit the nail spot on the head
Youth Worker Young Offenders Team

I’m speechless, that doesn’t happen very often for me, that is the best thing I’ve seen since, well ever.
Lynn Davies Professor of International Education at Birmingham University and author of Educating Against Extremism

This is amazing, I wasn’t sure when I came in, but you guys are on it
Police Officer

Watch this video for excerpts from the project:

 (An extended version of this video can be found here.)

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Acknowledgements

Autumn 2017 tour performed by:
Tom Craig, Aizah Khan & Vandreas Marc

Directed by Rachel Gartside

With thanks to:
Matthew Readman at Queensbridge Visual & Performing Arts School
Tina Dale at Harborne Academy
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Programme originally devised and performed by:

Malcolm Jennings, David Sol & Neetu Sanghera
Directed by Deborah Hull
Designed by Mark Walton
Programme music composed by David Sol
Additional scripting by Arzhang Pezhman

The copyright on any images used on this site is only limited solely for use by The Play House to illustrate the organisation’s work. The photos can not be reproduced and redistributed for any other use.
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Special thanks to: Rahees Kasar for all your wisdom and advice

Thanks to:

The Saheli Women’s group
Zubeda Limbada
Jahan Mahmood
Lynn Davies
Salma Jabeen
Mitra Memarzia
Sandra Hall
Richard Moore
Holy Trinity Catholic MediaArts College
Colmers School and Sports College
Waverley School

 

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Programme Outline

Tapestry lasts for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes and takes place in a school hall or similar large room. When the young people arrive in the hall they can put bags and coats to one side and take a seat.

The Play House team introduces themselves and the themes of Tapestry to the young people by asking them to indicate whether they agree or disagree with some key statements. The play begins with a movement and sound montage of images and text that set the context of recent world events in relation to violent extremism. The young people are placed inside the play, imaging they have been shopping in the city centre on a Saturday afternoon when protestors against the air strikes in Syria are met by counter protestors supporting the action. They have taken cover in a derelict shop unit. The noises of the protest can be heard. Jason a member of the right wing Young Patriots league enters the shop unit in a state of great agitation. Jason’s sister in law Nazia arrives shortly after him. She is a British Muslim of Pakistani origin. He tries to persuade her, his actions in the riot were merely in self defence. They are both interrupted by Hassan, also seeking shelter, he is a member of the opposing Islamist organisation The Circle of Truth. There is a fight between the young men that Nazia stops. Hassan advises Nazia to go home before she gets hurt. The protest has escalated into a riot and it is now impossible to leave.

Nazia tackles both of the men about what they think they are doing and they lay out their opposing positions. As she challenges both Jason and Hassan they begin to recount incidents from their lives that have shaped their thinking pressing one another into service to illustrate their points.

Hassan recalls a moment when he was twelve at a bus stop, and Jason counters with a typical moment from his experiences of trying to find a job. They both illustrate moments of their home life and recall meeting and listening to charismatic speakers that seem to have answers to their grievances, and propose action to remedy them.

Nazia explains about her family heritage, and describes a moment when her hijab was pulled off by a drunken stranger. She challenges them about where their current path will lead them and, having attempted to reason with them to no noticeable effect, leaves. Both Hassan and Jason try to call her back but she is injured in the riot – the young men leave the shop to try and help her.
There is a pause in the drama. The young people get the chance to talk to Jason and Hassan to try and find out what has happened and offer advice on what they can do next.

The young people are asked to consider what violent activities Jason and Hassan may be involved in, in the near future. The young people are asked to consider who else could be affected by these actions, and which innocent victims might be caught between the violence of the two groups.

The young people then reconvene as an audience once more to watch a final scene in which Jason and Hassan meet a week later at the hospital where they have both decided to visit Nazia. They have both been reflecting on the events of the last week and have begun to question their association with the Young Patriots and the Circle of Truth.

The performance ends and the young people are asked to suggest what can we all do, to live together in peace with our differences. These suggestions are recorded onto post it notes and stuck onto one of two banners used by Jason and Hassan in the play. The Play House website address is given to the young people as a stimulus for any follow on work.

You can see extracts from Tapestry in the YouTube clip below. This website also offers a variety of activities designed to support this legacy.

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Aim and outcomes

Aim

Using dynamic participatory theatre techniques and drawing on contemporary events, Tapestry provides a stimulus to explore the sensitive issue of violent extremism.

Outcomes

  • To raise awareness of the factors that can make an individual vulnerable to extremism
  • To support young people in developing a critical and informed response to violent extremism
  • To reflect upon the implications and consequences of violent extremism and to provide opportunities to explore alternatives to extremist activity

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