WIth 64 Million Artists 'Create to Connect' Challenge

For the past seven weeks, we’ve asked seven different freelance artists to suggest daily creative prompts to help us take notice of our feelings and where we’re at right now, as part of our project A Week’s Notice. You can find all their suggestions archived here, but to finish the project we’ve asked one final artist to set us a prompt (it’s prompt number 50!) in collaboration with 64 Million Artists and their Create to Connect challenge.

Adam Ali is a British Libyan actor. Growing up in North Manchester, he found himself involved in The Television Workshop Salford where he discovered performance arts, which led him on to Royal Exchange’s Young Company and Contact Young Company. He currently plays a lead character on Apple TV’s new show Little America. He was recently offered a Contact seed commission to develop his debut solo show exploring the complex issues surrounding being Muslim and queer.

This is his prompt for 64 Million Artists:

“Let’s make time for something we would otherwise take for granted. Our local hidden heroes and their constant acts of kindness. History books might fail to mention their name, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t leave a legacy. I would like to encourage you to take this opportunity to think about your hidden hero and a way to take notice of their hard work and impact. Once you’ve chosen someone from your community, from your family, or from history, then celebrate them! Tell their story to someone else you know, draw their picture, or share their hidden histories with us. 

Who are the people around you who you think should be more celebrated – for what they are doing now, or have done in the past?”

 

Adam celebrates: Rachel Lawrence

Growing up my mother away from home was Rachel Lawerence, she manages The Television Workshop Salford. For myself, and I know for the alumni of the workshop, her mentorship and guidance has shaped us into the adults we are today and steered our careers in the right path. The workshop offers training for screen and stage along with professional opportunities to work on set at ITV Studios and touring shows to Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For most working class attendees, training anywhere else is unaffordable, but Rachel ensures bursaries are available and takes so many under her wings with one-on-one support. There are very few people who take so much pride in their job, but Rachel does and continues to devote her life to her workshop children, and in doing so she is empowering the North’s next batch of superstar voices. 

Maia celebrates: Swimming Teachers

My hidden heroes are swimming teachers, because they save lives kind of, by teaching you how to swim so you don’t drown. And people don’t appreciate what they do. I like my swimming teacher because she is calm with us and tries, and tries again until we have mastered it. I think that people should pay more attention to swimming teachers because without them lots of us couldn’t swim and more children might drown. 

A Black and white photo of a group of girls and women, in swimming costumes by a pool

Chloe celebrates: Vicky Courtney

We called my grandmother ‘Grandy’. She was an actress. Her husband (well, the second of her three husbands) was a soldier, and she travelled with him when he was posted around the world. She started a community radio station. She worked with D/deaf actors to devise a signed production of The Ancient Mariner, a long time before most theatres paid attention to accessibility and to being inclusive. She became a drama teacher in a school. There’s no record of any of these things now online. 

Sometimes it’s hard to work out what the facts of her life were, because there were a lot of fictions too. She falsified her passport so no one could tell her real age. Did she join a cult? Did she win a gold medal at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts? In her will, she left me a slab of stone inscribed with writing in Ancient Greek. She told me it was a piece of a saint’s tomb that she had stolen by hiding it up her jumper, and that I should return it ‘when I was grown up’ (which hasn’t happened yet). She looked after me a lot when I was young. Some of our favourite activities were: going to Woolworths to ‘check out the deals’; watching BBC Shakespeare videos; standing on the front doorstep and chatting while she smoked and I stubbed out her cigarettes. These activities set me up well for a career as a theatre producer.