Writer Titilola Dawudu talks about the release of ‘Hear Me Now Volume Two’ in partnership with Tamasha and published by Methuen Drama
A crucial figure at the forefront of better representation within the arts, writer Titilola Dawudu has actively paved a formidable path with her Here Me Now series. Published in 2018, her book Here Me Now Volume One was made available to performers looking for monologues representative of their own cultural heritages, identities and experiences. The Hear Me Now Festival, comprising of various pieces from Black and South Asian artists in 2020 and the Hear Me Now Podcast in 2021 following on from the success of volume one. Currently, volume two looks to continue on from this incredibly necessary journey paved so far, with the release of the publication due for 25th August. Ahead of the release, Titilola tells us more about her Hear Me Now journey so far, working with Tamasha to create this crucial resource and what performers can expect from the book!
Hi Titilola, Hear Me Now Volume Two is now available to pre-order on various platforms for the 25th August. How are you feeling?
In a word: joyful! I’m excited to present along with Tamasha, a collection of monologues that really represent where we are in the sector. Since the pandemic, there’s been an unspoken collective manifesto of thought around how we cannot go back to how things were in the sector. Life should not be the same. It was not equitable for all. Therefore, there has been a forceable and intentional taking up of space by artists and creatives whose work has been deemed ‘risky’, is underrepresented, put in a box, etc…
Hear Me Now Volume Two follows Volume One, which was released in 2018, the Hear Me Now Festival of Monologues (2020) and the Hear Me Now Podcast (2021). What has the journey in terms of creating this series involved so far?
The journey has involved constantly thinking about answering these questions: how can we as creatives and artists find joy in our work? How can we all thrive? How can we control our own narratives?
What has the response been towards the festival and Volume One?
Volume One was such an amazing and special time. I became a mother at the same time and there were a lot of firsts, a lot of newness, a lot of not wanting to get things wrong. But ultimately it was all wonderful.
The festival was a gamble. It was at the same time as the Vault Festival in February in 2020, just before the first lockdown. I’m a great believer that there’s room for us all, so holding a festival at the same time as a well-known one, was a gamble in some sense but also a great opportunity to learn more about reaching audiences in different ways, and engage new people in my work. I took the challenge on and it paid off. For the shows we had press attend, a sold out night and a few very full shows. It was truly glorious to see majority Black and South Asian women in the audience really being engaged and responsive to the material. Of course, there has been learning, especially around care for the creative team and cast whilst taking on an ambitious project.
Volume two includes monologues from writers Vera Chok, Josh-Susan Enright and Bea Webster, features an introduction by BAFTA-nominated actor Ashley Madekwe, with top tips for auditioning from Tamasha and actors Kevin ‘KG’ Garry and Cherelle Skeete. What has compiling Volume two involved?
It has involved an incredible amount of time. You can never underestimate how much time it takes to put something together, that cannot be measured in a funding bid. The number of emails I have sent and answered is encyclopaedic!
My artistic practice involves me taking more care of myself as I am understanding my own way of working being a partially deaf person. This has encouraged me to have a more nuanced way to think about what an inclusive practice is.
There has been so much joy and celebration around this new volume. There are so, so many people involved and I am filled with gratitude. HMN has professionally been rewarding and immensely validating and the support from the artistic community has really encouraged me, especially when it has been overwhelming and stressful! Getting in touch with Cherrelle Skeete, Sarah Niles and the others and even Ashley Madekwe, to be a part of the book was joyful. There was no convincing needed – it was a ‘yes, how can I support?’
What have you learned/taken away from your journey creating the Hear Me Now series?
A retweet, a like, a supportive message – goes a long way. Everyone out there that has done this, I am grateful because not everyone understands what happens behind the scenes and how gratitude and exhaustion sit together.
I have learnt that being able to provide a platform, or provide spaces or support in others’ creativity – is also part of my own creative and artistic practice. Whilst I’m still waiting for an agent to represent me or waiting for my own run of a play I wrote on at a major theatre, and other professional goals – I know that HMN has opened up so much for me in my waiting period. It has allowed me to meet so many new people, work with incredible imaginations. And most of all, it has given work to artists.
What can performers expect from the book?
Choice! There are 101 monologues. 101 new windows of stories that can be taken into audition rooms, workshops, new spaces, outside. New stories to play with.
What would you like for performers to take away from the book?
I would like performers to really be able to take the book and use in ways that serve them, whether this be in an audition. It could be to reignite their imaginations and creativity. It could be as inspiration in a workshop.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
Here Me Now Volume One is currently available here…
Here Me Now Volume Two is currently available for pre-order here, and officially available to purchase from Thursday 25th August 2022.