February 2023 | University of Bristol Introduction to Playback Theatre Masterclass Breathing Fire delivered an ‘Introduction to Playback Master class’ for second year drama students. Discussing the history of Playback, Playback as a vehicle for Social Change, and Breathing Fire’s origins. Teaching Playback warm up processes; Fluid Sculpts; Transitional Fluids; and One Minute Poetry through the theme of Social Change.
January 2023 | Unlocking Potential 2023 Commissioned by South Bristol Youth and held at the University of Bristol, Breathing Fire worked with cohorts of young people from six Bristol schools. Taking the themes of communication and future aspirations, we facilitated specific games, reflective activities and script-based work, in which every student was able to showcase how they had been motivated by, and had developed through the creative process.
November 2022 | Breathing Fire delivered two public performances at the Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol as part of Kiota's regular programme of events showcasing Black and People of Colour performers. The two shows were focused on the theme of Climate Justice. Audiences shared stories about their perspectives on Climate Justice through the prism of: a) Gratitude; b), What pains us; c) Seeing with new eyes; d) Going forward into the future.
October 2022 | Playback in Prison (Performance) Breathing Fire was able to re-establish its work in a local prison since lockdown. We gave a playback performance, on the theme of 'The Past Two Years.' Those present gave reflections on the past few years – covid, climate crisis, Black Lives Matter. Inmates shared touching stories about their experiences during and post lockdown.
April and November 2022 | Over the Rainbow Playback Residencies Breathing Fire was fortunate to be able to take part in two residencies for Playback Theatre practitioners held at Over the Rainbow in West Wales. The events were represented by four different Playback theatre companies. Both residencies explored the theme of climate justice. We were able to share and learn from each other including being able to share and practice unfamiliar playback forms while considering our perspectives on what Climate Justice specifically meant for us as individuals and as a collective.
June 2022 | The Delight Collective working with Sudaqua Refugee Women’s Group Breathing Fire undertook a project with the Delight Collective to run playback sessions with Refugee women. We explored the theme of: ‘Our stories: what empowers, inspires, and energises us.’ The sessions supported refugee women to tell their stories about their journeys, and about their connections to home, whether here in the UK or the place of their birth. Working in groups, the women devised short pieces of moving theatre or song which they were able to perform to each other.
March 2022 | International Women’s Day (Bristol Improv Theatre) Breathing Fire were pleased to be commissioned by Bristol Improv Theatre. Continuing our work with the Delight Collective to run a class for women as an introduction to Playback Theatre, through the theme of 'Embracing your Power.' Those who attended were able to practice some key Playback techniques and forms and honour each other's experiences.
March 2022 | International Women’s Day 2022: Bristol Women's Voice First time back at City Hall after a two year hiatus due to lockdown. Breathing Fire was really pleased to be running a workshop exploring how we are constrained by biases; and how we refuse to allow biases to define us. Through a series of drama games and creative expression, women developed short vignettes and friezes on the theme and were able to identify tools to challenge biases. All were eager to engage and were generous in their sharing. The session was uplifting and affirming for all who took part.
February - May 2022 | Forum Theatre in Neighbourhoods Picking up from where we left off in March 2020 Breathing Fire worked with two cohorts in two Bristol neighbourhoods, Juicy Blitz young people’s group, in Lawrence Weston and a Fit and Fab women's group in Filwood. Breathing Fire and Many Minds facilitated a total of 24 workshops supporting the participants to consider, develop and create scenarios of their experiences of living in their area. Both groups travelled to each other’s areas to perform their work. The impact on participants and audience's was very powerful.
January - February 2022 | Unlocking Potential 2022 Commissioned by South Bristol Youth, Breathing Fire worked with cohorts of young people from seven Bristol schools. Taking the themes of communication and future aspirations. We facilitated specific games, reflective activities and script based work, in which every student was a able to showcase how they had been motivated by, and had developed through the creative process.
March 2021 | International Women’s Day 2021 for Bristol Improv Theatre (online) Having attended sessions with international Playback Theatre companies on delivering Playback online, Breathing Fire was able to facilitate a session for International Women's Day on the theme of ‘Being a Difficult Woman.’We worked with participants to uncover how we could own and embrace titles that bring us into our power as women, despite society’s negative connotations where terminology is used to devalue our worth and right. We used tasks and activities enabling participants to reflect on how we could respond to, empower and enrich ourselves as ‘difficult’ women.
September 2021 | The Delight Collective working with Houria Refugee Women’s Group We were pleased to run a taster workshop introducing a group of Refugee women to the basic aspects of Playback. The session led to women being able to tell stories and express themselves using the Playback form of fluid sculpts.
October 2021 | Henrietta Lacks statue unveiling This project in collaboration with Black Women Let Loose Theatre Company was commissioned by the artist Helen Wilson. Our performance formed part of the international unveiling of Henrietta Lacks' statue which stands in Royal Fort Gardens at the University of Bristol. We were privileged to give a performance which consisted of spoken word, song and dance to an audience that also included Henrietta's family who had travelled from the US especially for the launch.
March 2020 | Working with Many Minds we ran a workshop for women in Filwood, South Bristol for International Women’s Day which enabled local women to explore perceptions and realities of their neighbourhood.
March 2020: | Breathing Fire delivered a workshop commissioned by Bristol Women’s Voice for International Women’s Day on the theme of ‘Celebrating the Female Body.’ Women were able to ‘let their hair down’ and share with each other their loathes, loves and likes about their bodies in a safe space that offered interactive games, voice and movement.
February - March 2020 | We were pleased to continue our collaboration with Many Minds mental health and performance charity. We are again running Forum Theatre workshop sessions for residents in two areas of the city. We are working with Bristol 600 in Knowle West and a group of their disabled service users, and in Lawrence Weston with Juicy Blitz running workshops for children and young people. The workshops enable participants to come together, discuss issues of relevance for them and their communities. The aim is to work with the residents to devise scenarios and create two interactive performances.
January - February 2020 | We were commissioned by the Bristol Old Vic to deliver workshops with year seven cohorts in six Bristol schools: Colston Girls, Bristol Brunel Academy, Bristol Met, Merchants’ Academy, City Academy, and Cotham. The workshops were based on the Zong slave ship massacre, incorporating topical issues and encouraging the students to explore areas of civic action they could engage in and to consider what they would want to achieve as their individual lasting legacies.
Below is a reflection of comments from the students’ evaluation forms following the workshops.
December | Using the forum theatre format we worked with local residents in Central and South Bristol to present two performances called Rise Up exploring the perceptions and realities of their neighbourhoods. The performances incorporated a range of themes including: youth stereotyping, peer pressure, family breakdown, rejection and bullying. For more information and video and Also
March | We were pleased to collaborate with Rise and Fall playback theatre company in a a commission by Bristol Women’s Voice for their International Women’s Day event on the theme of the Cycles of Life’ – the menopause, period and life changes. The performed gave women the opportunity to talk about the impact of change in their lives as they experience women’s cycles and new stages of being.
September – December 2019 | Working with Many Minds we ran sessions for residents in central and south Bristol. This work was commissioned by Bristol City Council and entailed a series of 12 workshops in each of two neighbourhoods for young people and adults. The workshops enabled people to come together, discuss issues of relevance for them and their communities. We then worked with the residents to devise scenarios and create two interactive performances. Many of those who took part in the workshops had never performed before. Working with the Many Minds team we were pleased support attendees with the skills and confidence to explore deep and complex issues. This lead to their delivering performances emerging from the workshops. The final performances generated interactive, open and honest debate for audiences and service providers. Themes included: youth stereotyping, peer pressure, family breakdown, rejection and bullying.
August 2019 | Working with a cohort of people and theatre practitioners Breathing Fire delivered a session at the Bristol Old Vic on the theme of ‘communication’ using games and providing an introduction to Playback techniques.
August 2019 | Using forum theatre techniques we undertook a pilot workshop for teenage boys working with them to explore their views on Brexit. The workshop was filmed by the BBC, which was keen to gather the opinions of diverse young voices and how they felt Brexit might affect their lives. Following on from the workshop, the young men who participated signed up to attend our community workshop sessions in the autumn that led to their devising a performance about their lives.
July 2019 | Commissioned by the Arnolfini Bristol, Breathing Fire delivered a workshop titled Carnival Stories focusing on an exhibition by artist Martin Parr that depicted photographic images of St Paul’s Carnival. The workshop provided opportunities for families to develop ideas for storytelling around the theme of carnival and to share the stories they devised.
June 2019 | Commissioned by Triodos Bank Breathing Fire worked with the bank’s senior management team enabling managers to explore the issues of diversity in their team to assist their future planning for increasing diversity in their organisation. The workshop comprised of creative team building techniques and activities.
May 2019 | We were pleased to collaborate throughout the year with Many Minds mental health and performance charity. Our practical collaborative sessions commenced with a workshop for Bristol City Council community development team introducing staff members to forum theatre techniques and how to facilitate difficult conversations.
November 2019 | Provided by Closer Each Day we were able to practice how to create and build on scenes for improvisation, and to gain skills using tools for making powerful, engaging soap operas and dramatic performances.
September 2019 | The Breathing Fire team attended the annual playback theatre gathering at Over the Rainbow in West Wales with four playback theatre companies. We were able to take part in, and lead sessions, allowing us to share and learn playback forms, how we deliver playback forms and how we support audiences and their interaction.
July 2019 | The Breathing Fire team was pleased to attend a session lead by Cardboard Citizens that covered forum theatre techniques. It enabled us to continue the development of our practice in: setting up and establishing a scene, working with character and conflict, shifting from conflict to resolution.
October 2019 | ‘We Are Warriors’ Breathing Fire developed this work through a series of workshops with women and girls in different communities and settings in 2018 with In Between Time. The workshops encouraged women and girls to use their voices and bodies to express sounds about what it was to be a woman / girl. A light and sound installation recognising 100 years of Women’s suffrage was produced at the time and showcased at the Arnolfini. It was revised and installed in October 2019 at Redcliffe Caves, Bristol. See the video: We Are Warriors
December | Five members of Breathing Fire took part in Tina Gue’s 'This Is Us’ portrait exhibition showcasing images of 150 older women in the South West to mark the centenary year of (some) Women’s Suffrage. The exhibition featured in central Bristol in the lead up to International Women’s Day received great acclaim for the range and depth of the portraits and in its celebration of older women.
November | Six members of the group were fortunate to go out to Martinique in the Caribbean for an opportunity to extend our learning. We benefitted from a series of dance master classes that included drumming and performance skill. We returned refreshed to embed this learning into our playback performances. We gave two performances while in Martinique which were successfully received by audiences that had never seen playback before. We valued the trust audiences had in us to share some poignant stories and we feel privileged that we were able to honour them. We were also honoured to be invited by Josiane Antourel international dance artist to a private rehearsal of her dance performance prior to her devised show.
October/November | We Are Warriors with Inbetween Times - A sound and light installation created by Helen Cole.
Amid our hectic ‘Windrush’ tour of performances and gigs we delivered around the country throughout Black History Month, members of Breathing Fire undertook training in Digital Technology learning new techniques to improve storytelling and how this could enhance our craft. This was a form of training we had not previously received and we are now considering how we develop it further to bring another exciting layer to deepen our performances and creativity.
30 Oct: 'Windrush' Workshop and performance, Leeds, and also a workshop and performance at STUN@ Z-Arts in Manchester.
31 Oct: 'Windrush' Workshop and performances in Kirklees and Calderdale.
25 Oct: 'Windrush' Workshops and performances, Huddersfield and Bradford.
22 Oct: 'Windrush' Workshop and performance, Falmouth University, Cornwall.
13 & 14 Oct: Performance for Black History Month, Peckham, London, and Ashfield Prison, Bristol.
7 Oct: Performance Black Women 100 event. Recognising black women's contribution to the suffrage movement. Arnolfini, Bristol.
4 Oct: Poetry performances in collaboration with UWE and Bristol black poets, Bristol.
1 Oct: 'Windrush' Workshop and performance for Malcolm X Elders at the Malcom X Centre, Bristol and Bath Black Elders at Haile Selassie House, Bath.
28 July: Afrakan Storytelling Festival, Bears Wood Camp, Croydon Breathing Fire is scheduled to deliver a workshop at this event: African Storytelling Festival
22 July: Being Romeo and Juliet, with South West Dance Theatre, at Trinity Centre, Bristol. Playback meets dance theatre - love, hate, fear, hope, duty, desire....The Trinity Centre, Bristol southwestdancetheatre.co.uk
June: We delivered a series of performances in the South West focused on refugee and asylum seeking communities in support of Refugee Week.
May- June: Members of Breathing Fire have been conducting research on trauma in relation to the experiences of migrant communities. Findings from our individual research will be used to inform our interactions with audiences and the creativity expressed in our up and coming performances.
REFUGEE WEEK PERFORMANCES
23 June: St Paul’s Learning Centre, Bristol
22 June: Chard Library
20 June: Exeter Thursday 21 June, Full Circle, Bristol Thursday 21 June, Quakers Meeting House, Horfield, Bristol
19 June: Malcolm X Centre, Bristol Tuesday 19 June, City of Sanctuary, Swindon
17 June: Plymouth
7 June: Quakers, Meeting House, Horfield, Bristol
7 June: Black Artist on the Move Presented Ecletic on Thursday 7 June at The Quaker Meeting House, in collaboration with @ Bristol Refugee Festival. Breathing Fire Theatre Company performed “The Place I Belong”, a show celebrating the resilience and strength of Bristol’s refugee and asylum seeking Communties.
12 May: Workshop Drama workshop with children and young people from Imayla at the Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning, Exmoor.
13 May: Performance ‘Faith in Everyday Life’, The Hub, Hopcott Road, Minehead, Somerset.
17 March: Sistas in the Spotlight! The Malcolm X Centre, Breathing Fire and Tan Teddy - Jamaican Folk Culture Group, host a showcase of female performance artists. Spoken word, song, theatre, music and dance! Celebrating International Women’s Day and recognising 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage in the UK. Market stalls; food and drink available for purchase; prize draw for ticket holders on the night.
13 March: BSN (Bristol Survivors Network - Campaigning to Improve Mental Health Services), Bristol, UK. AGM at Unitarian Chapel, Brunswick Square. Breathing Fire performance from 3 pm. Service Users and Carers are warmly invited to 'Mental Health interACTions'. All welcome to watch and take part, or put topics up for discussion. A lively and stimulating afternoon.
3 March: International Women's Day celebration drama workshop for Bristol Women's Voice at Bristol City Hall.
15 - 25 Febraury | An Arts Council funded Washington DC tour in partnership with Playback Theatre sistah company Hissing Black Cat. We partnered with our Washington DC based sister company, Hissing Black Cat to deliver four playback performances and were pleased to have made links with a High School and a women’s writing group to deliver two additional performances.
We performed again with our sisters in Hissing Black Cat on our reciprocal visit following on from their joining us on our UK tour in 2016. February was Black History Month in the USA and we benefitted from our interactions with communities and people especially around the way Black History Month is celebrated and acknowledged in America. We performed in a range of settings to different community groups. We aimed to honour our audiences with their stories on issues, experiences and moments that are most relevant to them and their cultural perspectives.
We were keen to further develop our own skills, knowledge and experience and to widen our repertoire by taking the opportunity to learn and grow from the range of stories shared and themes explored during our performances, workshops and practices, and through our training with Hissing Black Cat. Check out our journey in more detail here!
9 December | NIGERIAN WEST INDIAN (UK GROUP) Annual Family Celebration Day performance, The Cornerstone Centre, London.
7 December | Arts Council funded tour performance, Chard Library, Somerset.
28 October | Arts Council funded BHM Tour: Toxteth Library, Liverpool. Our connections; family relationships and other aspects of our lives that binds us to others.
27 October | Arts Council funded BHM Tour: Chard Library, Somerset. What does home mean? Reflecting on journeys taken to adapt to new lives and exploring concepts of home.
27 October | Arts Council funded BHM Tour: Manchester Z-arts. Why understanding our history is important and the importance of speaking up and speaking out to address inequality and injustice.
14 October | We celebrated Black History Month, with the theme 'Connecting with our Ancestors' at The Quakers Meeting Hall in Horfield, Bristol. Proceeds raised from our event were donated to families affected by the recent mudslide and floods in Sierra Leone.
20 August | Arts Council funded BHM Tour: Commissioned performance, HMP Eastwood Park,‘My Favourite Things’ Reflecting on what motivates and inspires us; instigating and appreciating new opportunities.
July | Our summer public performance was at The Kuumba Community Centre. The theme was "What's Going On?"
March | We were part of the Celebration of African Culture taking place at Spike Island supported by Spike Island, the University of the West of England and Ujima Radio. We were proud to be performing in the line up with a host of artists.
March | Breathing Fire pro bono workshop for Bristol Women’s Voice, International Women’s Day event, Bristol. Theme: ‘Take Up Space.’
February | Workshop and performance for Bath Black Elders at Fairfield House, Bath, former home of Emperor Haile Selassie I. Arts Council England funded (as part of Breathing Fire's English Cities Arts Council funded tour October 2016 – March 2017). Theme: 'My World, Our World.'
We have also been featured on the Students' Union website where we took part in a poetry slam!
Theme: Celebration of 30 years of Womankind.
October 2016 – March 2017 | English Cities Tour funded by Arts Council England, so far nine out of ten gigs completed, covering: Nottingham, London, Manchester, Sheffield, Hull, Huddersfield, Derby, Bath.
October | Performance commissioned by Ashfield Prison, South Gloucestershire. Theme: 'Those in black history who have inspired us.'
October | Workshop and performance commissioned by the drama department, University of the West of England, Bristol. Theme: Celebrating Black History: 'How our connections shape our place in the world.'
October | Public performance for Black History Month. Theme: 'Moments of our Lives' focused on reclaiming our history - taking and stand, and bringing others with us. Performed with guest artists Hissing Black Cat from Washington DC, USA.
We were pleased to collaborate with ‘Rise and Fall’ playback theatre company https://www.facebook.com/riseandfallplayback/ in a commission by Bristol Women’s Voice for their
International Women’s Day event https://www.bristolwomensvoice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-IWD-Programme.pdf on the theme of the Cycles of Life’ – the menopause, period and life changes. The performed gave women the opportunity to talk about the impact of change in their lives as they experience women’s cycles and new stages of being.a commission by Bristol Women’s Voice for their International Women’s Day event