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Speak Woman Speak’s Soledad and Betto: Decolonising through hope, love & historical memory

  • 18.00 - 21.30
  • 26 Oct 2020
Speak Woman Speak’s Soledad and Betto: Decolonising through hope, love & historical memory

According to the now late but forever great María Lugones;

"the decolonial feminist’s task begins by her seeing the colonial difference, emphatically resisting her epistemological habit of erasing it. Seeing it, she sees the world anew, and then she requires herself to drop her enchantment with “woman,” the universal, and begins to learn about other resisters at the colonial difference." (2010:753).

Part of the ongoing #Black History Interruptions collaboration between Dr Javeria Shah at Learning and Skills at CSSD and Dr Shona Hunter at CRED Leeds Beckett, this event presents Speak Woman Speak’s dramatic production of Soledad and Betto.

"Dum spiro, m na-atu anya’/’while I breathe, I hope"

"Two women from different worlds, casting their net to connect with the past and navigate us on a journey from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean. As they breathe in the essence of survival Soledad and Betto fight for their rights under oppressive regimes."

Together we engage with this powerful and beautiful piece to continue the work of these women, María, Carmen, Leah, Soledad & Betto in challenging the colonial difference.

In doing so we are responding to Javeria’s call to ‘dismantle our Eurocentric and colonial understandings of history’.

Please join us. We are needed one and all in our powerful and challenging recognition of historical difference in the present.

Red and blue Soledad and Betto poster with images of the characters

Event schedule

18:00-18:10 Welcome and digital housekeeping
18:10-19:00 Stream of Hub performance
19:00-19:15 Comfort and screen break
 19:15-19:45  Carmen Martorell, Leah Francis (sws) & Shona Hunter in conversation
 19:45-20:30  Audience questions and discussion

The event includes a collective watching of Soledad and Betto which we hope attendees will be able to participate in together.

However, we understand that 2.5 hours is a lot of screen time.

Where attendees are only able to attend the later conversation and Q & A live we can provide links to the full performance to be watched in advance of the event.

Soledad on-stage
Two females performing on stage
Image from a performance of a figure sat on a chair under a spotlight

About Speak Woman Speak

Speak Woman Speak is an all female Leeds based theatre company. They make devised work highlighting hidden stories about women from diverse backgrounds.

Speak Woman Speak is a theatre collaborative made up of two Leeds based female artists: Leah Francis and Carmen Martorell. We formed in February 2013 after meeting on a Creative Entrepreneur course led by CidaCo (Creative, Innovation and Entrepreneurship) in partnership with S.T.A.Y (Sustained Theatre Artists Yorkshire).

Our first performance was on the 5th April 2013 as part of Friday Firsts showcase at Yorkshire Dance. We devised a 10 minute piece which became the foundations of 'Loss'.

We were then approached to work with community group Women Asylum Seekers Together. We facilitated a series of drama workshops, to provide them with the skills to share their stories in a creative way.

From June-July 2013 we were awarded a month-long artists residency, Summer Sublets at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. We shared the developed work at the end of the residency to an invited audience which included industry professionals, potential programmers and public members. They provided us with critical feedback which helped to refine our process and find our style. Speak Woman Speak were then invited to be part of Furnace Festival in November 2013 at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

On the 16th of July 2014, we shared our work in progress piece called 'Soledad' at Wharf Chambers in Leeds. Since then 'Soledad' has been performed in London, Eastbourne and Manchester as part of Unite the Union's International Migrant Workers and International Women's Day 2015.

In March 2015 we were awarded a Grant for the Arts from the Arts Council England to Research and develop our next show Soledad & Betto. We took part in the Open Space residency for one week at Theatre in the Mill in Bradford. Here we started exploring ideas on how the two pieces could be brought together and refining some of the movement within both pieces. We showcased the first part of our development on the 18th April and invited feedback from the audience to help us inform the next part of our process. Next we were part of CARP a three week residency at Barnsley Civic Centre, which allowed us to devise and perform ‘Betto’ to a small invited audience. We held a question and answer session after this sharing which gave us valuable insight to the responses about the piece.

The final part of the process saw us rehearsing for a week at The Holbeck Underground Ballroom in Leeds and sharing the final show with a bigger audience on the 5th July. We had some really great responses and we had attracted a wide, varied audience to the work. Alongside this project we also ran a ten week programme of Drama workshops to Together Women’s Project based in Leeds. These women are at risk of social exclusion in one way or another so we wanted to work with them to share skills, build confidence and attract new audiences to Theatre.

About Shona Hunter

Dr Shona Hunter is a Reader in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University. She is the Programme Director for Research Degrees in the School and is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Race Education and Decoloniality and the founder of WhiteSpaces.

Her work is interdisciplinary and intersectional in its approach. She has been writing, teaching and researching into the social, cultural and emotional politics of the state for nearly twenty years, holding academic posts at the Universities of Birmingham, Lancaster, Leeds University and now Leeds Beckett University in the UK along with visiting positions at the Universities of Sydney Australia, Mannheim Germany, Cape Town, Rhodes and Johannesburg South Africa. Her scholarly interests are framed through an engagement with feminist anti-racist decolonial critique and include all aspects of welfare politics and governance, state practices, identities and the broader material-cultural-affective politics through which ‘the’ state(s) is enacted nationally and globally as a global colonial formation. Her WhiteSpaces work now in its tenth year moves across academic and public locations, bringing together academics, activists and practitioners from 17 disciplines across 23 countries who have an interest in thinking critically about what it means to be white in global coloniality. Her 2015 book Power, Politics and the Emotions: Impossible Governance, brings together these various themes to rethink the state itself. Her current single authored book project (working title) White States of Mind: fantasies of power and vulnerability in the academy develops this work to consider the way white identities and subjectivities frame neoliberal bureaucratic formations. With Christi van der Westhuizen of Nelson Mandela University South Africa she is currently co-editing the Routledge International Handbook of Critical Whiteness Studies for publication late 2021. Shona also does a range of public and arts curatorial work related to her work. Pre Covid-19 she was curating a headliner and related Fringe stream at the Leeds International Festival on Future. Identity. Power: Reframing Justice and Inequality.

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