Chantelle Walker, performer and writer also known as Channie B, tells us about SURGE – here 18 – 20 June for Offbeat 2019.

SURGE all began while I was doing my Theatre Masters degree at the University of Chichester.

As a black Caribbean British artist I had moved from the very busy and diverse London to the quiet countryside town of Chichester – where I began noticing how prevalent prejudice and discrimination happened to be in the town. The naivety of a lot of the people who crossed paths with me concerning race, class, sexuality, gender, religion etc became immediately visible!

Anyone seen as different from the white middle class standard was almost seen as an outsider and therefore an educator on the ‘Other’. After the initial culture shock, I began to realise that it wasn’t necessarily the fault of the people themselves, but a combination of generational knowledge, and a lack of diversity in all aspects around the town. I realised that I wanted to let people know that yes, I was different to them, that yes, it’s okay to acknowledge the difference. And that yes: we are all humans and have the power to come together to put an end to people in power discriminating toward people just like me. Along with my research into sociology, the rising reports of police brutality in the news and my strong interest in spoken word and music, I began creating SURGE.

SURGE is all about stereotypes. It is about prejudice and discrimination. It is about how you see others and judge them on race, class, religion and sexuality. It is a show that hopes to challenge your perception, stripping you of what you think is true and reminding you of the potential you have to change your ideas. We constantly hear of brutality from the USA, however little do some know the issues are closer to home that some may realise. SURGE invites an audience to see the world through my eyes for a brief moment, while still being able to have a period of self-reflection. This show uses spoken word, movement and music to curate a space of thought on change and personal emotion for its audiences.

I’m currently developing the full-length version of SURGE for the Offbeat Festival. Preparing it is as exciting as the prospect of performing it in Oxford! Along with sound engineer Curtis Arnold Harmer, I am currently piecing together all the final segments ready for its debut as part of the festival’s supported artist programme.

Every time someone sees this show, it is a version no one has seen before. Curtis live-mixes the sounds of this show every evening for our audiences. If you are interested in seeing a visually stimulating piece with a striking sound score, if you’re interested in thinking about how you can make a change to prejudice and discrimination in your society, come along to SURGE!

SURGE is at the Old Fire Station, 18 – 20 June at 8:30pm. Tickets £10 from our website or 01865 263990.