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Michael Braithwaite on Hampstead Heath

Michael on Hampstead Heath, age 18, in his first suit bought to mark his first job.

Exploring Windrush

“The words are tumbling from my mouth…”
Michael Braithwaite tells the moving story of the Windrush generation

00windrush3Following a few extraordinary weeks during which a passport was placed in Michael Braithwaite’s hand and his fight for the right to remain working and living in the UK was resolved pending compensation, he joins Sussex experiential theatre company ExploreTheArch and fellow Windrush generation musicians in a new summer production – The House after Windrush – which opens on Monday 6 August.

The House after Windrush is a vivid and profound articulation of the bewildered thoughts experienced by those thrust in the uncertain world of nationality dispute, the reminiscence of earlier life that unexpectedly crashes into the present and the precious relationships that form with those who step in to help.

Michael Braithwaite, featured earlier this year in the Guardian and on Channel 4, joins ExploreTheArch to offer a deeply personal story in the company’s unique theatre venue – a beautiful, intimate domestic villa where the audience sits on sofas – evoking Michael’s mother, a seamstress and her understanding of the British Isles she came to in the late fifties.

“We were tea-drinking British through and through,” explains fellow London musician Dave Rohoman, born in British Guiana. “Our education was Dickens. When we arrived in London, we felt we were coming home”.

The show elucidates home, playfully divided into charming moments, such as the watching of television for the first time in London, a world away from the kerosene lamp ghost stories evenings of Grandma’s house in Trinidad.

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“The standing up for the national anthem in the living room at the close of daily broadcast seems ludicrous now but we all did it then,” Rohoman chuckles.

The authenticity in this sharing of recent immigration trauma is central to this production. Director Gail Borrow explains:

“In working with Michael’s words, we are really getting to the reality of what thousands of people in this country are quietly facing: thoughts are sharp but scrambled, distress is felt in every act of the day and a desire to return to the quiet, invisible place in society is overwhelming.”

The production also features modern, healthy transatlantic partnerships such as the trade relationship between small Trinidad & Tobago cocoa farmers and master artisan chocolatier Sophie Meyer from The C Note Ltd, honouring the addressing of the former colonial exploitation with sound, and ethical trade by individual entrepreneurs.

Visual artists Stella Clifford, Susan Miller, Felicity Truscott and Peter Quinnell have also created installations in the grounds of the venue honouring Caribbean writers of the Windrush generation.

“If this wealth of literature hadn’t been marginalised over the last half century, the current political scandal may never have taken place,” Vladimir Miller, the company’s composer asserts. “One very positive way of responding would be to fill your bookshelves with titles by Pauline Melville, Willi Chen and Tessa McWatt this summer.”

The House after Windrush runs from 6 to 19 August. Visit explorethearch.com for performance times and booking details. Early booking is advised for this intimate venue.

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Posted 09:52 Wednesday, Aug 1, 2018 In: Performance

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