There are so many rich, beautifully complex and compelling stories Cheetham has to share about its history, its present and its future. And together, with writer Gareth Smith and Sound Designer SHAR, the Local Exchange Cheetham Hill Ambassadors met and interviewed community groups to unearth these stories. Made in collaboration with over 30 participants, UP THE HILL delves into Cheetham’s past, the roots of migration, the strength in knowing one’s community (& the forgotten communities), the freedom and intimacy found in space, the things our hearts long for, the revelatory nature of art & culture and what the future may hold. There are seven parts to UP THE HILL, each based on personal anecdotes shared by participants and narrated by some of them.
When asked about their creative process, SHAR said…
‘Working on this project has been a wonderful education on the rich and diverse stories that have been locked away in the hearts and minds of the community of Cheetham Hill. I spent some lovely time with members of the community and the ambassadors hearing about theirs and their families’ stories and their rich history, which Gareth then captured beautifully in his writing. We then recorded the stories at The Royal Exchange and at the Mosque on Cheetham Hill road with members of the community which was also a lovely experience meeting so many other members of the Cheetham Hill community. It was challenging doing it alongside the pandemic, but the ambassadors showed such a level of commitment that it motivated me to rise above any challenges we face’.
While Gareth said…
‘This was a marvellous thing to get involved with. I feel immensely lucky to have been able to meet people, to learn and to hear stories emerging from isolation. There is no place without its people and there is so much to say about Cheetham Hill, this only scratches the surface. I hope, like the people of Cheetham that this is not the end of the story and merely the beginning.’
And Cheetham Hill ambassador Poppy said this of working on this project…
‘In my personal opinion I think you need to know some of our past for a better future. This is what this project means to me. Telling these stories to people is important. I just hope they stop and really listen to the words and get a positive reaction from them. For me personally I loved reading and telling the stories. Certain paragraphs I relate to them. They are part of my story my life and I’m sure when people listen to it, they will relate in the same way. They will see their own lives in it.
I want to bring a smile to people’s faces when they hear the story. And the biggest thing is… if we can change someone’s ideas for the better of what Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall is all about. Our job is done. I want to hear from people…. Wow I didn’t know that!!!’
Illustrations by Mary Burke.
UP THE HILL was created in collaboration with members of the Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall Community: Aaron Fletcher, Aidan Feely, Amer Salam, Andrew Arthington, Binish Syed Qureshi, Christine Connor, Colin McGhee, Daniel Valentine, Denise Roberts, Dorcas Nanitatila, Gareth Redston, Helen Kozak, Ian Choularton, Jean Choularton, Jill Hughes, Johnson Ovbighowhara, Josh Fenton Thomas, June Kelly, Karam Abou Rached, Mark (Derby Brewery Arms), Mark Thomas Boon, Mary Burke, Mohammed Ali, Mohammed Iqbal, Poppy Soldatos, Raihanna Harding, Ray Matus, Ruth Abourachod, Sabiha Khan, Sadaf Husayn, Sara Abanur, Sharon Thomas and Tunde Adekoya.
With special thanks to Khriza Mosque, Smedley Fields, Jewish Museum and New Testament of God Church.
You can also find these videos on the Royal Exchange Theatre website here.