Welcome to The Letters Project
The Letters Project is an ongoing collaboration between co-directors Nina Bowers, Yasmin Hafesji, Ellen McDougall, Hannah Ringham and Moi Tran.
We started working together in March 2020.
Since then, we’ve made a few different iterations of the project, with 20 additional freelance artists, and partners including Age UK Kensington and Chelsea and SISMO International Festival.
This page is a record of the process, from when we started, to where we are now, and some thoughts for the future.
We hope you enjoy reading it.
Letters, Summer 2021
In Summer 2021, we made a recording of letters written between two strangers – Elizabeth Chan and Irfan Shamji. We collaborated with sound designer Rebekah Elero, and web designer and assistant designer Erin C. Guan.
It’s an offer. To be still for a moment. To reach out to a stranger.
You can listen for free here
(a written transcript is also available on this page)
A LETTER FROM THE CO-DIRECTING TEAM, SUMMER 21:
Last year we were inside a lot. We started this project of letter writing to try something new. To connect people who hadn’t met before. To do something to be together when we couldn’t be in the theatre.
The lockdown and restrictions of 2020 forced us into new ways of working and collaborating. We had to be in a space of uncertainty. And we really didn’t know what we were doing.
Having grown with this project for over a year, we now know that The Letters Project is about looking at the relationship between a letter and live theatre, creating spaces to connect more intimately, meeting people you don’t know, connecting to the now in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, finding new ways of sharing and collaborating, sending thoughts, ideas and poems into the future.
It’s about not rushing, offering something small, quiet, and slow. It’s about being still, making attempts, and for us, about embracing longer timelines for making stuff.
This year, in 2021, we have moved from being inside to outside. We still can’t physically be in the Gate Theatre, but we wanted to find ways to bring the intimacy of what we discovered with the letters project last year out into the world in this time of flux.
We wanted this new version of the project to be an opportunity to connect on your terms. An invitation to take some time to pause, and listen, from wherever you are.
The letters Elizbeth Chan and Irfan Shamji have written to each other are gifts. By sharing their insights, reflections, experiences and poems in our local community and online, we’re opening a window to reflect on the year we’ve been through, and the time we’re living in now.
– Nina Bowers
THE LETTERS PROJECT X AGE UK KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA
In January 2021, we began a new iteration of The Letters Project in a partnership with Age UK Kensington and Chelsea. We paired people from Age UK with our Young Associates to write letters to one another – connecting them with each other on paper through the lockdown and as the UK opened up into the summer of 2021.
They shared stories of their pasts, their travels, and what was keeping them going through this time. In August, we met one another in person for the first time. Some of the pairs are continuing to write to each other.
Check out the photos below of our Gate Young Associates meeting their letter writing partners from Age UK Kensington and Chelsea.
Photo Credit: Floro Azqueta, 2021
The Letters Project began in March 2020, from an idea by Nina Bowers that built on the work we had done together, with others, when we made Dear Elizabeth in 2019.
The first iteration was a live zoom show, which we made with 18 additional guest performers, and the Gate Team including Ed Borgnis (technical support), Hannah Dunne (this website!) and Jenny Pearce (producer).
Moi Tran is an Artist/Performance maker/Researcher and Designer, her practice explores the intersections between Contemporary Art and Live Performance. Tran’s work includes as set & costume designer for Theatre, Film, Dance and Opera. She is founder of East Asian Ticket Club, an engagement platform for the BESEA community.
Recent Theatre include: Chiaroscuro(Bush);White Pearl(Royal Court);Dear Elizabeth(Gate); Summer Rolls (Park); Under the Umbrella (Belgrade/Tara Arts);Deluge (Hampstead).
Recent Art Performance include: The Bolero Effect – (VCCA Vietnam ,Hanoi);The Circuit- A Movement Scenario (Prague Quadrennial/OvalSpace/SPILL Festival);Three Women and a Duck (Vietnam, Laos, Thailand);The Other day you sat too far away from me( Henry Moore Courtyard);SLEEP( Live Art Development Agency, Royal Court).
Recent Awards/Commissions include: ArtHouse Artist in Residence;SPILL Festival; Curator Encounter Bow Chisenhale Dance; British Council Vietnam 2019;Arts and Culture Fellowship SEA 2019; OV12 Artist 2018.