INTERVIEW: SoreSlap Theatre | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Papi Jeovani and Rhian Jade by Emma Solomon

In the not-too-distant future, in an unknown land, worlds collide when two people are forced to share a space.

Newcastle-based creatives Papi Jeovani and Rhian Jade, directors of SoreSlap Theatre and writers of latest work More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish, take to the Alphabetti Theatre stage this month to explore different systems of oppression that are still holding people back.

Set in a cell somewhere in the near future, there’s a scope of time and place in which to reflect society back at the audience, because as Rhian Jade explains: “This is society intensified. No particular time and no particular place. We think we’ve come so far in terms of diversity, but the reality is that we’re just not there. Still now, we’re experiencing racism and xenophobia and different systems of oppression. This stuff has been happening over hundreds and hundreds of years and is still happening.”

The title itself is a twist on the signs seen outside pubs in the Windrush era. “We had the title before we started on the play itself,” laughs Rhian. “The title was the driving force behind the idea, a relatable phrase, not negative in itself, but with negative associations.” Rhian Jade is Irish, from Belfast, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and non-binary. Papi Jeovani is a Black artist living and working in Newcastle; they know what they’re talking about when it comes to difference and oppression and they bring a personal perspective to the stage.

We think we’ve come so far in terms of diversity, but the reality is that we’re just not there

Only when they are given no other option but to be in each other’s presence, do they find that their lives are more similar than they could have ever imagined. More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish is all about empowerment, to open the minds of those who haven’t experienced what it is to be treated differently because of the colour of your skin or your sexuality and gender, and empower those who have. Empowerment is the raison d’etre for SoreSlap Theatre: to empower its audience and create a safe space where they can enjoy theatre that makes them stop, laugh and think; to empower those in the creative industry who haven’t had the opportunity to put their work forward.

We haven’t experienced art that represents us in the past,” continues Rhian, “we’re not alone. There’s a real gap here to create a platform for future artists to put on new work, a supportive community of global majority artists and LGBTQIA+ people. What are we doing now to be accommodating to those who the world has shut out for hundreds and hundreds of years?”

Papi Jeovani speaks about what he believes makes this work special with its unique blend of spoken word and physical theatre. “Come along and experience for yourself this different kind of story-telling using spoken word poetry,” he enthuses, “there’s a lot of movement around the stage, a rhythmic flow, choreography and comedy throughout.”

So can the audience expect a happy ending? Rhian refuses to give much away. “There’s a flood of hope about changing the world, but not necessarily for these two characters. The way we finish it leaves the audience in suspense.”

What happens next is up to you.

More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish is at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 15th November-Saturday 3rd December.

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