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Words and Voices

September 19, 11am:

Words and Voices: The Life Stories and Languages that Make us Who We Are in Coventry

Sunday 19th September, 11am-7pm
Full day of free activities for all the family
Assembly Festival Gardens in the City Centre, Little Park Street, Coventry, CV1 2LU

Join us for a free day of interactive activities, workshops and performances at Assembly Festival Gardens exploring how everyone’s life-stories and languages collectively shape who we are.

  • Activity stations in the Treehouse (11am-7pm): Children and families can drop in throughout the day to the Treehouse to have a go at a range of interactive activities. Create your own slogan on a t-shirt and learn to translate animal language – just a taster of what’s on.
  • Interactive workshops in the Treehouse (11am onwards): Workshops for all ages - learn to weave, discover what makes great storytelling and have a go, pot a plant and make an origami house.
  • Interactive talks and performances in the Piccolo Theatre (12pm-4:30pm): Join us for a series of fascinating interactive talks, suitable for all ages, including how the Coventry accent has shifted throughout the ages and learning Chinese in just 40 minute

There’s so much to see and do.

The event is free to attend and anyone can take part, plus you can just drop in.

Our venues offer protection from wet weather but provide great spaces to enjoy the sunshine too!

Activity stations in the Treehouse between 11am and 7pm

Who for: all ages

Free activities include:

  • Coventry City of Languages: - Come and try a range of hands-on family-oriented activities and games related to some of the languages taught in the City - design a t-shirt with your own language slogan to take away, trace the global roots of words we use every day, try your hand at the game of pétanque, see how animal noises translate into different languages, celebrate multilingualism by adding to our languages tree.
  • Home Truths: - Create your own origami house with Sian Williams (Vincent Dance Theatre) and Cath Lambert (University of Warwick) exploring ideas of home, family and belonging.
  • Art-making at the heart of Education - Explore this amazing collaboration between Jo Trowsdale (University of Warwick) with Imagineer (and Highly Sprung Performance) in Coventry on developing a model of learning based on art-making. Come and have a go at designing your own ideas to commission!
  • Romans in Coventry - come and find out about when Latin was spoken in Coventry as part of this new project launched by Warwick Classics Network (WCN). WCN is working with primary schools across Coventry in a new collaboration with the Herbert Art Gallery, Lunt Roman Fort and Warwick Manufacturing Group to get school pupils learning about Roman Coventry - including the laser scanning of ancient artefacts.

Interactive workshops running on the hour all day from 11am in the Treehouse

Who for: all ages

  • 11am-12pm: Languages interactive session: using well-known Disney songs, we'll see what gets lost in translation in different languages and how interpretation comes into play. We'll also try out some common language gestures.
  • 12pm-1pm: Weaving New Stories, Artist Nilupa Yasmin and ORT Gallery will help you to create your own weave and learn about Coventry’s rich history of weaving
  • 1pm-2pm: Roma Allotment project - Pot your own seed to take home and find out about the Roma Project, sharing and celebrating
    Coventry Roma stories with Heidi Ashton from the University of Warwick
  • 2pm-3pm: Colonial Hangover - What are the (often hidden) local legacies of British Empire? Join Shahnaz Akhter and Ben
    Richardson from the University of Warwick to find out
  • 3pm-4pm: Queer Immigrants of Colour - Listen to the stories of our City’s queer migrants of colour in a session facilitated by Somak Biswas from the University of Warwick
  • 4pm-5pm: Sounds of the Future - Sample sounds of Coventry’s future emerging through an exciting project led by Noortje Marres and Naomi Waltham-Smith from the University of Warwick) and Nirmal Puwar from Goldsmiths
  • 5pm-6pm: Alternative Trails: Mapping South Asian Women's Activism in the City - Enjoy a live performance of Giddha, a traditional pastoral dance performed by women of the Punjab, India, and Pakistan and learn more about this project from Ravi Thiara (University of Warwick) and Nirmal Puwar (Goldsmiths)
  • 6pm-7pm: Racist Tones - Listen to live readings from a new book of stories reflecting on histories of race and racism in Coventry; there will be an opportunity to ask questions of authors and, if you wish, buy a signed copy

Interactive talks and films in the Piccolo Theatre between 12pm and 4.30pm

Location: Piccolo Theatre, Assembly Festival Gardens

Who for: all ages

Anyone of any age can join these insightful, engaging interactive talks:

  • 12pm-12:45pm: Twinned Cities of Coventry and their languages
  • 12:45pm-1:30pm: How the Coventry accent has shifted through the ages
  • 1:30pm-2:15pm: A deeper dive into Coventry’s many different languages
  • 2:15pm-3pm: Learn Chinese in just 40 minutes! Prizes for those taking part!
  • 3:00pm - 4.30 pm: SHORT FILMS, with introductions and brief Q&Q with Directors/ researchers:
    • Cinema III (9mins) (2009) Presents differing intimate relationships to the Ritz Coventry, once a thriving South Asian cinema - now due for demolition. Made by Nirmal Puwar and Sanjay Sharma and produced with Ioanna Karavela in a close collaborative relationship with sound artist Shervin Shaeri, cinematographers Des & Tom Seal, technical paper artist Antoinette Brown, film editor Domina Favata, as well as the voices of community activists Jitey Samra, Erskine Howell and Ann Smalleach.
    • Memoriam: Tree Felling at the Plaza Witness the felling of trees making way for university developments at the junction of Cox St and Jordan Well in Coventry Adele Mary Reed (photographer) in collaboration with Nirmal Puwar (sociologist) and Paul Chokran (urban sketcher).
    • In Transition: Comrades for the City Documents the ‘quiet activism’ as comrades for the City come together to witness and salvage as construction work takes place in Coventry. With Adele Mary Reed, Nirmal Puwar and Paul Chokran.
    • 'Unravelling' (from 'Noise of the Past') Nirmal Puwar and Sanjay Sharma. The result of a unique film-making process, creatively working with poetry, archive materials, visual art and music. Internationally acclaimed Nitin Sawhney composed a new score in response to an original intergenerational poetic dialogue in Urdu between Sawarn Singh, a WWII Indian soldier who fought for the British in Burma, the Middle East and Africa, before moving to the UK, and his grandson, Kuldip Powar.
    • Urban Village: The Growing Project Co-created by Roma and non-Roma focussing on the experiences, identity and voices of the Roma people told by the Roma people. Project team included Heidi Ashton (Warwick University), Rosa Cisneros (Coventry University), Raluca Maria Polodeanu (Reel Master Productions), Bernie Flatley and Roma Families (Roma Project-Coventry).
    • Home Truths Vincent Dance Theatre, made in collaboration with and performed by young people in care and women recovering from substance misuse and domestic violence, investigating the impact trauma and adverse childhood experience has in later life.
    • Art-making at the heart of education Jo Trowsdale and Richard Davies; With thanks to: Roger Medwell, Jane Hytch; Kathi Leahy, Sarah and Mark Worth. Filmed in the Daimler Creation Centre, Sandy Lane, Coventry.