A new performance inspired by actual historical events and incidents, and referencing local activist stories, like the Bradford 12 and the United Black Youth League, will open for a preview at Kala Sangam in Bradford this month.
Written and produced by Tribe Arts, a Leeds/Bradford-based theatre and media production company, ‘The Middle Game’ is a highly charged play tracks a motley crew of ordinary individuals who find themselves in truly extraordinary circumstances. The play presents the concealed history of a forgotten chapter in Britain’s past, when police brutality, inequality, political ruses and self-defence was an everyday visceral reality for many communities.
Artistic Director of Tribe Arts Tajpal Rathore says: “This is such an important piece of theatre based on actual true-life experiences from the early 1980s. It’s a story which honours Bradford’s activist past as well as highlighting how Bradford is connected as a city to the ongoing global activist movement.
“It’s a story but looks at a wider concept of political blackness and working together to improve equality for our communities.”
Writer Samran Rathore shares: “We have purposefully approached the tone of this piece to present a searing, high-octane and visceral . It’s a no-holds-barred look at activism – honest and brutal, it represents the South Asian experience at that time in a raw and truthful way.
“The actual action is based around recordings and incidents from the time of the Bradford 12 and the United Black Youth League. However, it is not a documentary and not rigidly set to a sequence of events. It is more representative of the stories that could have been the story for any Asian person around that time. It aims to capture the sentiment of people and the mindset of the Asian community and the power of a coming together to defend itself in the face of fascism.”
The play is directed by Neetu Singh, and features a predominantly local cast including Samyy Daniel, Jelani D’Aguilar, Aarti Shah, Nakib Narat, Allison Saxton and Michael Forrest.
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The Bradford 12 were members of the United Black Youth League who, in 1981, were charged with conspiracy to manufacture explosive substances, as a means to defending their from extreme right-wing fascists.
The men known as the Bradford 12 came from a variety of South Asian backgrounds including , Sikh, Muslim and Christian. They were subsequently arrested and put on trial. Following a strong national and international campaign, the Bradford 12 were eventually acquitted and the principle of the right to organised self-defence, including the use of weapons for this purpose, was established.
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These men had been drawn to campaign together by the shared experience of . They campaigned lawfully for over five years to expose police racism as well as the racism of immigration laws.