HighTide launches month of creative writing workshops celebrating Black identity

HighTide is delighted to be running The Power of Stories, a series of six, weekly, free creative writing workshops for Black people based in the East of England taking place at various locations, including Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich as well as online. 

Running from Saturday 25 September to Saturday 30 October, the workshops are inspired by the incredible Power of Stories exhibition at Christchurch Mansion (open until Sunday 24 October), the workshop is a collaboration with Aspire Black Suffolk and Ipswich Museums to offer the Black community the opportunity to use writing to process the profound challenges of the last year. 

The workshops are also a chance for people of African-Caribbean heritage to come together, look forwards, and create stories of joy, positivity and celebration of Black identity.

No experience of writing is necessary to join six workshops led by award-winning stage and screenwriter, Juliet Gilkes Romero, who grew up in Suffolk, and Ipswich-based resilience coach and writer, Rob Wright. The project will culminate in a published booklet of writing created by the participants. 

Rob Wright comments: “As a resilience coach, I’m fascinated by how powerful stories are. They help us make sense of ourselves, the world and our place in it. The problem is, those scripts we’ve got playing inside us can either inspire and motivate, or they can diminish and oppress us – especially after all we’ve been through of late. So I thought it’d be a great idea to create a safe space to help provide some relief from all we’ve been through the last 18 months, by outlining how writing can help us process our toughest experiences. 

“I’m hoping those of us attending can learn something remarkable about the craft of good storytelling, as it’s a fantastic tool to help integrate ourselves when we’re feeling disconnected. But perhaps even more significantly, I’m hoping we can learn something about creating stories we actually want to be in, even when life threatens to make us feel small or play small. I’m very grateful to HighTide’s Sharon Kanolik for listening to me share the idea and for her help to make it happen. Because with Juliet’s help, I believe we’ve got the opportunity to create a very powerful experience for those who immerse themselves in the workshop.”

Rob Wright, image by Annabelle Wright

Juliet adds: “Most of us dismiss our personal stories as irrelevant, unimportant, even uncomfortable. Yet our stories are vital in helping our families, communities, work colleagues, understand who we are. The Power of Stories creative writing project is designed to encourage all participants to embrace their own narratives and share them. This may sound daunting but when we share our stories, we create connection. Our stories are our strength.

“Through the examination of theatre, film, and TV drama, Rob and I hope to demonstrate the transformative nature of storytelling and the journey we all undertake to find courage, meaning and identity. Content will include work by August Wilson (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences) and Michaela Coel (I May Destroy). We will also be investigating the evolving world of black Superheroes including Black Panther and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Why is this genre important, and why now? Participants can look at how they have been affected by the impact of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Sharon Kanolik, Engagement Producer at HighTide, says: “As a company HighTide exists to amplify stories from the East of England. After a time in which so many of us have felt isolated and alone, we’ve loved meeting, talking and writing with our local communities this year. We’re excited to welcome people with and without writing experience!”

For more information and details of how to sign up, please visit https://hightide.org.uk/participation/power-of-stories-creative-writing-project

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