By Mashal Peerzada
More than anything, When Mountains Meet is a sharing. It began with Anne Wood’s brave openness about her journey to travel to Pakistan, to meet her father for the first time. It became a space for the entire team, and every collaborator to share their most personal feelings of identity, belonging and mountains scaled. It grew into a sharing of sounds between one culture and another. And even in culmination, it was not an exhibition or performance, but the deeply personal sharing of journey and story between players and the audience.
It makes sense then, that Yellow Brick’s Unsent Letter’s Workshop, held as a preamble to the shows opening, turned out to be a surprisingly intimate and joyfully courageous sharing between friends and strangers from across Scotland and Pakistan.
Unsent Letters is one of our favorite workshops at Yellow Brick. It uses the nostalgic whimsy of letter writing to invite participants to look inward and articulate from their most authentic space. It is designed to build connection and foster unexpected conversations.
There was plenty unexpected about the When Mountains Meet workshop. For starters, we had expected to conduct it together in Glasgow – however, following a twisty, turny visa saga – the workshop ended up with us here in Pakistan, gathered around a roaring fire live streaming to the rehearsal space at the NTS Rockvilla in a hybrid experience live from Lahore to Glasgow. All, as they say, is grace. If anything, the hybrid nature added an unexpected something to the experience.
Themed around the idea of identity, we opened the workshop with three letter sharings ‘To the Scared Child’ by Mashal Peerzada, a note of hope and understanding to her childhood self, ‘To My Dad’ a whispered reproach to a distant father by Kath Burlinson and ‘To All the Parts of Me ‘ a nostalgic remembrance of the how language united and separated her by Niloo-Far Khan. There was a bold vulnerability in the three letters, which set the tone for participants to lean in to the experience and open up about some of the most intimate things that have shaped who they are, were and how they see the world.
The workshop brought together participants from Pakistan ranging from social media influencers, femicide activists, consultants to teachers and writers with women in Glasgow from incredible organizations like Colourful Heritage Scotland an organization that works to preserve South Asian and Muslim heritage in Scotland, and of course the When Mountains Meet team.
Through the course of the evening / afternoon we laughed together, cried together and shared together – the unspoken, unsent letters of our hearts – and found through the power of shared narratives, friends amongst strangers.