‘Spoken Worlds’  is a partnership project between Theatre in the Mill (Bradford, UK) and The Second Floor (Karachi, Pakistan), exploring spoken word poetry in languages other than English. In both the UK and Pakistan, spoken word is an artform predominantly rooted in the English language.

This project will explore spoken word in some of the regional languages nested in Pakistan (for example, Sindhi, Punjabi, Baloochi and Pashto. We will run workshops with groups of participants in both cities, to build skills in creating spoken word poetry in these native languages. The workshops will be led by expert poets and will be facilitated with the support of translators.

The workshops will comprise the development stage for the project, with participants creating a piece of spoken word that moves between these languages, and expresses the unique rhythms and emotions of each one. This piece of spoken word will be recorded as audio and create the basis for a Virtual Reality (VR) installation. 

The visuals for the VR will be filmed in both Karachi and Bradford, and the resulting experience will have a split-screen immersive effect with integrated subtitles. This immersive experience will be shared online, and, when safe, will also be presented by both partners as an installation, in which audiences will use Occulus VR headsets to experience the piece. The piece will offer the audience the opportunity to step into another person’s shoes, hearing them express themselves in their native language, as well as being visually immersed in their world – a domestic setting or another location which speaks to their identity and experience. 

The project will also speak to themes of diaspora, with poets in the UK sharing language with those in Pakistan. Since spoken word is still relatively a new concept to be taken up and explored by the regional ethno-linguistic groups, we are looking to platform the growth of literature among these communities, and encourage literary expression. Our preferred participants will comprise those eager to explore the grounds of poetry and prose through their own language, and through their experience and literary methodology, explore their culture and lived experience.