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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Bradford star Natalie Davies to tour Full English show across the UK

Bradford Actress Natalie Davies opens up about being mixed race and her award-winning live show Full English.

A Bradford actress is to tour her award-winning theatre production next year.

Natalie Davies, 31, is set to tour Full English across the UK following a sold-out stint At Kala Sangam Arts Centre in Bradford earlier this year.

The new tour will be shown in intimate venues across Britain, starting with her hometown in April.

Full English recently won Best Production at the Asian Media Awards in London.

Full English is a theatre production constructed from the journals and memories of Ms Davies. It follows the personal histories of Canterbury Estate, where Ms Davies grew up, along with her mother, and her Nan.

The 31-year-old actress is known for her roles in Coronation Street as Shelley, Parveen in Eaten by Lions (2018), and Jade Jackman in Doctors.

The show recently won an award for Best Stage Production 2021 at the Asian Media Awards in London.

The play was produced by Bent Architect, a theatre production company established in 2006 in the District.

The production is funded by Bradford Producing Hub, the National Lottery through the Arts Council, England, and Bradford Council and was initially developed in partnership with Kala Sangam and Co-op Grange Academy.

As Ms Davies becomes a mother for the first time, her nan is diagnosed with dementia. The show charts Ms Davies’ journey as she attempts to piece together the fragments of her own identity through understanding the courage of her maternal nan’s story.

The actress’s grandmother met and fell in love with a Pakistani man who migrated to West Yorkshire during the 1960s. The play showcases the struggles that her nan and other women faced, during this time, bringing up mixed-race children.

She said: “It wasn’t easy. She came to Canterbury estate and met other women like her, bringing up mixed-race kids. The women supported each other and looked out for each other which is what is so beautiful about it.

Full English is devised from Natalie Davies’ diaries and memories from when she was young.

“It was difficult for her because she was bringing up three kids alone, bringing up three mixed-race kids that have an identity different from hers. My mum doesn’t know too much about her Pakistani heritage because her dad wasn’t there, it is very complex.

“It is something that happens all the time though, my story is one of thousands, it is just that we don’t see it enough, which is the whole point of me doing Full English. When I was doing the research, I found that all people could relate to was East is East which came out in 1999.

“My dad says it reminds him so much of his upbringing, but it was 1999 and we are in 2021, there is not enough out there in terms of representation.”

The show is a love letter to her daughter, merging her and her Nan’s experiences together. However, understanding her identity was a complicated process. Ms Davies celebrates her background now, but it was a journey that she had to take.

The mum-of-one added: “The show starts with me having a baby, with the baby coming out white and me having brown skin and how she will identify herself. Growing up, I was brought up very ‘white’, and it is what I say to her in the play. I’m very honest about that, I think it is important.

“As I grew up, people would ask. ‘Are you a Muslim?’ and I would respond ‘no, but my grandad is!’.

Full English was created from a conversation Mrs Davies had with Bent Architect’s co-founder Jude Wright. 

“It’s not that I’ve questioned my journey, if anything I’ve celebrated it more, but it is a journey that I’ve gone on. As a teenager, I’ve lied about my ethnicity, I’ve said I was Spanish rather than Asian because I would fit in more.

“When I was growing up on Canterbury estate, there were loads of mixed-race kids. When I was knocking about on different estates with my friends, it was a whole other kettle of fish. It was at this point where I experienced racism.”

Since entering the business almost a decade ago, diversity and representation within the media has gotten better, the Bradford lass said. She is set to play a mixed-race character in an upcoming TV show, the fist in her career.

The actress added: “People are paying a bit more attention to representation. I recently just played a part that hasn’t come out yet but will air on Chanel 4, and I am playing a mixed-race character, which is exciting. It is the first time on TV that I will be playing my own ethnicity. Most of the time, it is non-descript or I’m playing an Asian role. So, it is like me having to adapt rather than the roles adapting to me”.


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