Podcast: Putting marginalised cultures centre stage

Tags: Arts and disability International collaboration Podcast

From Armenia to Belfast to Africa. We speak to choreographer Jemima Hoadley (Candoco), director Vadan Badalyan (Armenia) and theatremaker Paula McFetridge (Kabosh) about their experiences placing marginalised voices at the heart of their work

Download transcript

What happens when marginalised cultures take centre stage? In this Arts Podcast, we explore Hiraeth, a new dance production inspired by Armenia’s painful history, and speak to Kabosh, a Belfast-based company that has been investigating how theatre can help to resolve conflict in Africa.

The artists creating Hiraeth took the troubled history of the Armenian people as a starting point for their creative process. “We discussed issues of exile and relocation,” says choreographer Jemima Hoadley in the podcast, who is Associate Artist at Candoco Dance Company. “Having to flee your home in a hurry… Being relocated and searching for home. And how that informs our identity, what kind of things represent home to us and how can we recreate that wherever we go.” The title ‘Hiraeth’ is a Welsh word that expresses the idea of longing for home or a homeland. UK audiences have a chance to see the show as part of the Unlimited Festival at Tramway in Glasgow.

 “The role of the artist is to animate the ‘other’”

The production was created for National Center of Aesthetics Small Theater (NCA Small Theater), the first company in Armenia to include disabled dancers. It came out of Making the Right Moves, a project with the British Council and Candoco, with many other supporters: the British Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia’s Ministry of Culture, St. Sarkis Charity Trust, and the Armenian diaspora in the UK. Vadan Badalyan, Director of NCA Small Theater, tells us this work is already changing attitudes towards disability in Armenia.

 “As artists, you can air issues in a way that politicians and media can’t or won't”

Kabosh Theatre Company grew up in the aftermath of conflict in Northern Ireland. Paula McFetridge, Artistic Director, tells us that Northern Ireland is still dealing with the experience of trauma, conflict and division between communities. “I think the role of the artist in an awful lot of these types of environments is to animate the ‘other’, the perceived other,” she comments.

In 2016, Kabosh worked in Rwanda and Nigeria with the British Council, as well as touring to South Africa. The company performed Those You Pass on the Street, which explores the complexities of dealing with the legacy of conflict, at Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Rwanda and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa. In each of these locations, McFetridge explored how her company’s approach to peacebuilding through theatre could help to inform local practitioners and could be adapted to different contexts: post-apartheid in South Africa, post-genocide in Rwanda, and in the midst of religious violence in Nigeria. She points out: “As artists and practitioners you can air those issues in a way that politicians and media can’t and/or won’t.”


This is a British Council Arts Podcast presented by broadcaster Georgina Godwin

Find out more:

Catch up on coverage celebrating the Unlimited Festivals and exploring issues in disability arts

Watch the trailer for Hiraeth and find out more about the project that led to it

Look at a photo gallery with production photos of Hiraeth

Check out an app from Kabosh, which offers a historical walking tour for visitors to Belfast

Read an interview with Paula McFetridge about Kabosh’s tour to South Africa

Listen to our podcast on the role of theatre in the refugee crisis

Sign up to our newsletter