Natalie’s Blog – BD Stories


BD Stories is a creative project that finds, shares and celebrates stories from across Bradford. We started with the production of two new plays; No 4 by Asma Elbadawi and Pashto Thriller by Aina J. Khan. These plays were taken to several community venues across Bradford, where we were welcomed in by local members.

Here at Freedom Studios, we believe everyone has a story to tell, especially in Bradford. Stories are essential to nourishing a community, creating space for self-discovery and shared understanding. That is why I was so excited that BD Stories was not just about telling the (excellent!) stories written by Aina and Asma but listening to the stories that belong to our audiences too. We sent creative facilitators Irene Lofthouse, Stephen Gaythorpe, Chris Singleton, Leah Francis, Emily-Settle, Shazia Bibi, to meet with our audiences, drink copious amounts of tea and see what stories were to be discovered.

At the heart of No 4 and Pashto Thriller are stories of Bradfordians exploring their own identity, through their community, passions and relationships. Throughout the project we have asked our audiences some big questions about their own identity and relationship with Bradford, ‘Who are you?’ ‘Where do you belong?’ ‘What does Bradford mean to you?’ We began to explore these questions through a variety of creative practices including model making, drama, poetry and film.

Storyteller, actor and all-round Bradforian legend, Irene Lofthouse, has spent time in Women Zone (BD3) and collected local women’s origin stories from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kenya. Irene also worked with families in Cottingley on creating a ‘Recipe Of Me’ where different generations have discussed what ‘ingredients’ go into making a person. Theatre extraordinaire, Steven Gaythorpe has been working with teenage girls in Buttershaw Youth Centre and filming the stories behind their names. Young people in Karmand Youth Group have worked with Chris Singleton, on creating their own T-shirts which express their identity. And finally, community members who use the beautiful space in St Oswalds Church, West End, have been recording audio stories from their time growing up in Bradford.

Our four Youth Theatre Groups have been creating their own performances inspired by the BDStories productions. Our Saturday group have created a performance, that argues about the ‘best kind of story’. One group have asked themselves about their personal strengths and weakness, while another group has looked at identity from heritage and historical perspective.

All these stories will be brought together to the BD Stories Fest on the 15th February at Kala Sangam. Here, all the tellers, dreamers, chatters, and tea drinkers will come together to perform for each other and celebrate the vast amount of stories that make up this excellent city.

BD Stories is supported by Amal (a Saïd Foundation programme).

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