Tales from the Front Line ... and other stories


November 2020

Tales from the Front Line ... and other stories documents the contribution of Black workers at the front line of the Covid-19 crisis, using verbatim interviews to create a lasting historical record.

★★★★  Arifa Akbar, The Guardian


In the wake of the Windrush Scandal and the global Black Lives Matter movement, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented an additional challenge to Black key and front line workers' perceptions of belonging, leading many to demand that a changed society must emerge from it.

Exposing the exhaustion of Black front line workers, and their glimmering hope for a better future, Tales from the Front Line ... and other stories uses verbatim interviews to explore the historic Covid-19 crisis and its seismic impact on those at the front line of the pandemic.

The first two films were released 30th November 2020: see them here

Further episodes follow in January and March 2021.

  • Arifa Akbar, The Guardian

    ★★★★ “Miniature character studies, rich in insight and individual detail. They reveal a person and a life.”

  • George Collins, A Younger Theatre

    ★★★★ " ... strikingly beautiful – but the anger they inspire is deep."

  • The Stage

    ★★★★ " ... an example of the way theatre can be used to educate and promote understanding."

  • Part 1

    The first film stars Jo Martin (Doctor Who; Casualty), directed by Michael Buffong, who shares a teacher’s experience of trying to keep themselves and their pupils safe after decades of budget cuts. It explores how new conversations opened up in the wake of the global Black Lives Matter movement, and the challenges of supporting students’ education when nothing was certain anymore.

    Tales from the Front Line - Episode 1

  • “You could tell the kids were worried because they went quiet ... and then there was George Floyd.”

  • Part 2

    The second film sees Sapphire Joy (J’Ouvert, Theatre503; Casualty), directed by Kwame Asiedu, share the words of an NHS Recovery Worker. Frustrated by the racial bias in the medical treatment of Black people, she finds herself further exhausted by performative gratitude during the pandemic, when there was little public outcry at the government’s failure to give NHS workers pay rises.

    Tales from the Front Line - Episode 2

  • “It’s a lot of work being black in Britain ... you can’t always be shouting back”

  • Sam Marlowe, iPaper

    ★★★★ “ … intimate, thoughtful, and nakedly honest, the voices conversational but insistent, and scorchingly articulate ... These are vital stories, presented with passion, flair and intelligence. Impossible not to listen; impossible to look away. “

  • Michael Buffong, Artistic Director and Joint CEO, Talawa Theatre Company

    “Tales from the Front Line creates a historical record of the contribution of Black workers at the front line of the Covid-19 crisis, demanding change from society. These truth-telling stories reflect real-life experiences which can't be ignored, and do so in ways that are artistically and creatively rich.”

  • The Tales from the Front Line interviews were a space for the Black workers to share their experiences, their concerns and their hopes for the future. 

    Black artists and creatives have then used the testimonies to create six dramatised pieces of work using music, movement, photography and soundscapes to convey the story. These will be released episodically: the first two films were made available in November 2020, and the next will be released in January and March 2021.

  •             We want to know what you think

  • Please support the work of Black Minds Matter UK

    Black Minds Matter UK understand the effects of racial discrimination across this country, the resilience it takes to fight this on a daily basis, and the triggering effects of seeing violence against Black people in our media. 

    Treating mental health must be a priority in the fight for equality and welfare of black people in the UK. That's why we are asking you to help us support the work of Black Minds Matter UK. 

    Please donate to Black Minds Matter UK, using the button below.

    Thank you.

  • Thank you

    We are enormously grateful for the generosity of many people, especially the Black front line workers who shared their experiences, thoughts and hopes with us. We are also grateful for the support we have received from Arts Council England and Croydon Council’s Culture Relief Fund. 

    Thank you to everyone who has helped make Tales from the Front Line ... and other stories possible.

    Supported by Arts Council England and Croydon Council’s Culture Relief Fund

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