Tue 3 Aug 2021

Local Black Theatre Maker’s first live Cumbrian Performance

Trailer Story is English Touring Theatre’s outdoor festival of spoken word, theatre and comedy created in partnership with Theatre by the Lake and Northern Stage with support from National Trust.

Not only will it be bringing the best talent from around the country to Crow Park in Keswick, but also celebrating the best of homegrown talent too.

One such talent is Lekhani Chirwa who grew up in Cumbria, as a dual heritage person. Sadly experiences of racism meant it wasn’t always easy for Lekhani to feel comfortable in her hometown of Kendal and as soon as she was able to, she headed to London to pursue her creative career and find somewhere she could be more accepted. Cumbria was a place that brought mixed emotions and the experience of growing up dual heritage in the county proved a source of creative inspiration as well as frustration and ultimately led her to write her own one-woman play Can I Touch Your Hair? Pre-Covid19 the show was being well received and Lekhani had performed it in London, Hull and Slough, but bringing the show to Cumbria became an exciting opportunity for us thanks to Anti Racist Cumbria who entered stage left and introduced us to Lekhani.

Liz Stevenson said;

“It was a no brainer to involve Lekhani Chirwa in the programming of Trailer Story, she’s a real talent and the play Can I Touch Your Hair? is full of vivacity and couldn’t be more relevant to today’s times and to Cumbria. We are very grateful to Anti Racist Cumbria for this introduction, and we see this as the beginning of more collaborations. We are committed to anti-racism and have begun our journey reviewing our practices to ensure inclusivity is at the heart of everything we do. We are excited about the small changes we have already made, but know there is a way to go. We will continue to make the changes that ensure there is always a platform for Black and Brown artists and creatives whether that be on or off stage at Theatre by the Lake. The quality of shows and performances for Trailer Story is exceptionally high and everyone involved is looking forward to a wonderful weekend of culture in Keswick, something we’ve all missed in recent times!”

Created in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, Anti Racist Cumbria galvanised Cumbrians of all backgrounds to work towards an anti-racist county, holding organisations to account and supporting them to change whilst building grassroots projects for communities. Lekhani Chriwa joined Anti Racist Cumbria after finding out about it from her sister and since joining has been a valuable volunteer; supporting the social media team, events team and arts and culture group.

‘Since joining Anti Racist Cumbria I’ve reconnected to Cumbria. I have met so many amazing people who want to actively challenge racism in the county. I left because of my negative experiences here, but slowly it has started to feel like home again. I’m so excited to be performing Can I Touch Your Hair? As part of Trailer Story. To be able to perform in my home county is an honour; it is going to be bizarre to share my story and experiences in the place that inspired and shaped them  to begin with. I think it’s really important that the audiences in Cumbria see this play, they will learn and laugh and hopefully enjoy it.’

Anti Racist Cumbria and Theatre by the Lake have made 20 ‘Green Pass’ Sunday afternoon tickets available free of charge to local people with low/no income. They are available for groups of up to 4 and also include access to the I Malvolio performance. Contact Anti Racist Cumbria on sophia@antiracistcumbria.org to reserve, reservations must be made by 12pm Friday 6 Aug.