Finding a voice and the Write to Life group

Write to Life group members

Finding a Voice is a documentary following members of Freedom from Torture's creative writing group, Write to Life, as they participate in a drama workshop aimed at bringing their own voice into performance. The members of the group are all survivors of torture who have fled persecution and are building new lives in the UK.

Sheila Hayman, the coordinator of the group explains:

"One of the strongest motivators for the writers is the prospect that their stories and poems will find an audience. It gives a purpose to their incredibly challenging lives, and assuages the guilt many of them feel at being alive and relatively safe when so many others are not.

"So they publish their work, and do readings and performances whenever they can. As the writing is usually very personal, most of the writers want to perform it themselves, in their own voices.

"But this can be a problem, when they're writing and performing in what may be their fourth or fifth language. Accent, pronunciation, emphasis – getting the feeling and the meaning, past all these stumbling-blocks, can be hard.

"Which is where we were when we met Kristine Landon-Smith, artistic director of Tamasha Theatre Company. She is herself non-native British and has developed a range of imaginative and magically successful techniques for infusing performance with the emotional and physical language everyone naturally brings with them.

"We were lucky that she had a project in the works that required a short film, and that she asked us to join her to produce one based around a master-class she would give our writers. Six of them signed up, and the results were striking, and moving.

"We are hoping to continue our collaboration in the future. Watch this space!"

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