16 Nov 2020

Festival Line-up Artist Vlog: Amina Atiq


Photo credit: Robin Clewley

Watch a new vlog from Amina Atiq about her upcoming film, Broken Biscuits: Unheard Voices, which will premiere 28 November at DaDaFest International Festival. Find out more about the piece, her artistic process and her journey with DaDaFest. 

ACCESS: Please select CC and English (United Kingdom) on the video for captions, and you can find a Transcript below:


Hi everyone, thank you for joining me today.  

I'm doing this video for DaDaFest to talk a little bit more about my journey, where I began with DaDaFest and where I am now.  

So about 2-3 years ago I was asked to perform at a scratch performance at the Unity Theatre, part of DaDaFest Scratch performances. At that point I did not really appreciate accessibility in art.  I didn't really understand its importance, though being hard of hearing and being dyslexic, I know what it feels to be excluded in school settings and in big crowds, and not being able to hear or grasp the information very quickly  

When I joined the performance scratch night I performed poetry. I brought a friend who plays the oud and I brought another friend who’s a singer. Of course part of a scratch performance is you get feedback which was really, really vital for me at that moment because this is when I took a turning point in my work.

Someone who was hard of hearing in the audience expressed to me that my work would have been a lot more effective if I’d used some images or some visual art to just portray my poetry in a more visual format for those who can't hear. And for that, at that point, I was quite grateful to get that feedback, but it also made me think about how much we take things for granted, and also how much we don't do already in the art that we make nationally and internationally.

Art is not accessible for everyone and it should be. And I kind of became an activist within myself. Like, well, what can I do?

And the thing is, I realised I can't do anything or change anything unless I change the way I work and create work. I think that's what I learnt from the scratch performance: For you to make a change in the world and to make art accessible for everyone, you have to practise it in your own work first.  

I got invited again to fill another scratch performance and I was really excited because I thought I can do this a lot better now.  I can make art more accessible. I can make it more engaging, but also produce my own work at the same time. And you know DaDaFest have been brilliant in supporting that, in making sure that I get the right support, and they were amazing throughout the whole process.  

For that I produced my first one woman show, called Broken Biscuits. And Broken Biscuits is me visiting or revisiting my grandmother's living room in the 1970s on Lawrence Road where my Grandad had a corner shop where he sold broken biscuits for half a penny. And the reason I wanted to write this play was to kind of understand what it means to be British and what it means to belong to a home that sometimes feels like - not home.  

So that was the beginning of the process and one of the highlights of this performance (though it was a scratch performance, it wasn't finished) - the highlights of the performance was I got to work with Savina, I got to work with Hassan, you know, both who direct and write their own plays so that was great.  

I got to also pay people from the commission. I also got to pay myself.  And I also got to work with Brian who is a videographer.  

So I got to work with so many vast people from different types of, you know, the art industry, which was great because it really developed my career very very quickly.  

I learned a lot about budgeting, which I never did before, which is quite difficult, but we got there in the end. And most, of course, the highlight was grandmother. Everyone meeting my grandmother, Hayla.

She was the star of the show. We did a video together where I interviewed her, then the video became part of the play, so I wanted to use different elements of the play, not just on stage, but using some digital work as well - which was great. Now, because of COVID, I can now use that experience in a way that I can create more digital work.

So since then I wanted to create this video, really just to highlight one thing: Even though I'm still creating my own work and I was creating work that I thought I'd never have the chance to create, I got to create it with an organisation that really cares about you as an artist.  

They care about you and they care about their audience, and for me the value in that is really, really important and something that I want to carry with me for a very long time as an artist.  


So yes, so this year’s festival you will be seeing a short film that I've produced - I think, directed? [Amina laughs] I don't know. But I produced, and working also with Brian Roberts again, we filmed and interviewed Yemeni newsagents and shopkeepers across Liverpool.  

I wanted to do that because it was a research piece firstly. Second thing, it was the start of a new heritage piece, and thirdly, it’s because I wanted to honour my Grandad's legacy: Because my Grandad was one of 400 Yemeni newsagents that opened a shop on the streets of Liverpool, and he opened it around 1970s selling bread, milk, broken biscuits, coffee, your daily essentials on Lawrence Road.

So that was that was the motivation of the film, and the film is called Unheard Voices because the Yemeni community is always seen to be the invisible community, the unheard of. But I wanted to highlight these voices and to let people know that we as Yemeni people do exist.  

We exist as people. We exist as shopkeepers. We exist as business partners. We exist as entrepreneurs and I hope that we no longer become the invisible or the unheard of.  

So please do look out for my film called Unheard Voices and do support my new work.  

Thank you so much again, DaDaFest, you've been absolutely beautiful to work with. Absolutely beautiful.  

Thank you for letting me… - for educating me, for practising my own craft and making, and building, and making me an activist in making art accessible, and I hope this is a message for all our organisations across the world:

You can make your art accessible for everyone because art does not discriminate and everyone should have the opportunity to listen, to see and understand the art that you create.  

Cool, so see you later guys!

To watch Broken Biscuits: Unheard Voices, as well as plenty more brilliant artworks by D/deaf and disabled artists, join us 27 November - 3 December for DaDaFest International Festival! Don't miss it and sign up to our newsletter to stay posted on all the latest exclusives and updates. 

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