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Umbrellas in the Sun - Kids and their imaginations

We spoke to our assistant director Jemima about her experience of working on Umbrellas in the Sun.

“Last year I met Magdalen at the Windrush Women audition. We had a week to write-up the script and prepare the show. It was just a really good experience. Magdalen hasn’t been out of my contact since! I’ve kept in contact and we understand each other artistically, so when she called me up last summer before lockdown and asked me to work on the project, I said ‘yes of course I’m really down!’

In the project my role is assistant director but I mainly focus on the acting aspect of the show, helping the kids build up their confidence, to just be free and funny on stage. It’s seeing where they are with their creative minds.

When I work with the kids it’s about making them feel comfortable even if it’s really silly. It helps them to be the best they can be, allowing them to experience things they don’t normally do. After the year they’ve had, with the pandemic, being out of school and away from their friends, they’ve become timid and scared of being expressive around other people. But through the work we’ve done for this performance they’ve got really into it and grown their confidence. It’s been amazing.

The young people have been seeing what’s been happening over the past year with Black Lives Matter. They’ve been seeing racism and experiencing it too so through the work on the performance and the song they’ve created they have been able to express their feelings and find a way to understand what’s been going on, in their own words. A lot of the time adults try to keep young people out of these sorts of conversations, but in reality the kids know more than we do about what’s going on.

Food has also been a big topic for them and the people that they see when they are out and about. A lot of the young people have talked about seeing people running about town and the music when they walk down Market Street. But they also talk about how people ignore the homeless - which is a reality in Manchester. The kids see it all. The performance is their experience and observations of Manchester.

I think everyone should come and see the performance because you’ll get to see a lot of different perspectives of living in Manchester. But the special thing is these realities are coming from young minds. It’s beautiful. It’s colourful, it’s creative and it would be a shame for you to not to experience all the different aspects of how people see Manchester. Kids and their imaginations are something else!

The work that Afrocats does is so valuable especially at a time like this when we’ve been so sheltered and protected. These kids really need an outlet and the space to be creative. A lot of kids don’t get to express themselves and especially kids that come from different backgrounds it can be hard. Afrocats’ create a space where anyone and everyone is vital and it is so vital, especially at a time like this and I’m just really grateful to be a part of it.”

Afrocats - Umbrellas In The Sun Sat 16 & Sat 23 October 2021 – 2pm & 4pm Cross Street Chapel, 29 Cross Street Manchester, M2 1NL Tickets on sale now:


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