Outside The Frame Arts blog for their latest Arts Council funded project called ‘Tremors.’ 

‘Tremors’ is a research and development project to produce a script, over the next year, about Jewish identity in the context of Israel/Palestine, while uncovering some of the lesser known stories of 1968 anti-Semitism in Poland. 

The first phase was at The Jewish Museum last February 2020, here is a reflection on the process by Nikki Mailer, Outside the Frame Arts co-director. 

‘A butterfly gathers fragments of bones on the beach and rests for a moment in the sand’

During a visit to Poland with my family, in April 2019, we visited Treblinka, the second largest Nazi extermination camp just outside of Warsaw where the Nazi’s murdered (between 1942 and 1943) between 700,000 and 900,000 Jews.

The death camp is now a memorial site. Unlike Auschwitz the Nazis destroyed the camp before the Allies arrived, instead what stands is a memorial site. Very still and silent surrounded by beautiful trees.

I wrote a poem as a reflection on the huge impact the camp had had on me. I walked around it, I was thinking about the amount of people who had perished and suffered in one place and what this meant for my own Polish Jewish history. 

As part of my residency with the Jewish Museum, I developed the poem I began writing at Treblinka. I also spent time listening to the oral history of a Holocaust survivor called Helen Teichner. Almost seven hours of recorded interviews from the Jewish museum archival material. When you listen so intensely to one person’s oral history, you start to feel connected to the person as if I knew her. Her Polish Jewish accent made me think about my grandmother. Maybe that’s why I decided to focus on her. Something in her voice made me feel closer to my grandparents.

The main piece I wrote was a collection of research and memories that I weaved together.

For example;

My grandmother who was part of the underground resistance in Belgium, who was given poison in case she was caught by a Nazi only to find out it was a placebo pill after the war ended.

My Grandad’s love letter to my grandmother in 1948 who wrote about starting again as though he was a mummy rising from the ashes who had lost everyone including all of his 6 brothers and his first wife.

My maternal grandmother who went back to her village after hiding in East Russia to find no one left,

My parents’ exile from Poland to Israel in 1968 during an anti-semitic campaign forcing 20, 000 Jews out.

All these fragments, (like bones) are pieced together and bring me to my connections with Palestine. Where I see Palestinians now experiencing the Tremors of the Holocaust, because of this I was drawn to the imagery of earthquakes, Tsunami and The Butterfly Effect . 

At the end of the residency I shared my work informally with the wonderful, Jerusalem born, Avital Raz who is a talented singer, songwriter and performer. 

Here is a short video of the reading: 


Feedback from Laura Seddon (Creative Producer at The Jewish Museum)

“It was fascinating to see Nikki’s approach for our second Research and Scratch residency at Manchester Jewish Museum. The process of honing in on one particular story from our oral history collection, as opposed to taking a broader scope, was thoughtful, intense and extremely moving.
This was particularly fruitful as Helen’s story is one that we are going to tell on gallery when the new museum re-opens after our development project. At the scratch session it was rewarding to see how the audience engaged with this story, finding parallels in their own work and giving suggestions for how we might do justice to Helen’s experience. The process of using family and museum archives in arts practice was picked apart and made me realise that there is considerable discussion to be had around this issue.
We couldn’t quite believe the amount of material that Nikki and Avital had created together over a day’s work and I feel there is huge potential for musical storytelling in the development of Nikki’s work. I’m excited to see what happens next!

I also wrote a separate piece Called ‘The Banality of Kindness’ which draws on Helen Teichner’s recording.  I thought about all the people she had encountered and how many times she missed death. However, there was so much to her story I will never feel that I could do it justice.

The Banality of Kindness

Helen’s near misses with death, each one random. Their kindness is an offering, during war time, even the smallest of actions could save a life.
Her child, almost not born. but her doctor says, “keep this child, it is made from love.” Her new-born, nearly called Maria is not allowed to take a Christian name. Instead she is named, Marila. Two months in, Helen has no more milk and there is no time to mourn Marila’s passing to Colitis

She hides with Bron for three nights, sleeping anywhere they can, in bushes, on slopes. No food, nowhere to sleep. Would it be safer to split up, to survive? They think so and yet neither of them could have predicted the letter that would arrive “Bronislaw Guttman Husband of Helen Guttman, nee Rosenberg, of 312 Waterloo Rd, Manchester, perished in Lemberg in 1943”

On her own now, Helen begins her dance with death.

A German man and his son walk through a graveyard almost tripping over a frightened sleeping woman. He says nothing. This man, visiting a Jewish cemetery, he keeps her secret and she in turn his.

She skips death.

A lady on the first pew, bible in hand and rosary around her neck notices a woman with dark hair. The uneasy and fright in her suffering eyes gives her away. she wonders if the sadness in her eyes are Jewish. And yet, this dark haired Helen holds a rosary between her finger and her thumb and recites the prayers one by one. One day Helen tells her: that Virgin Mary came to her in a dream. Helen reminds her of her regrets, not helping to hide her Jewish friend Ora and small children. Each time she sees Helen re-appearing for the service. She breathes a sigh of relief.

She deceived death

A detective looks at Rachel Rosenberg and flicks his eyes over the fake documents. His eyes deep waves of blue, pale skin and wrinkled lines, next to his lips, show an imprint of a time he would have smiled. Most days he would follow the banality of evil. This time he was reminded of his humanity. She looks like an old school friend. The woman, holds her mouth tightly together, her hands unmoved as if trying to stop them from quivering. Her heart does not beat faster but just stopped, completely. Everything stops, stands still. His lips move. ‘Helen, your papers are fine,’

She misses death.

Barbara shows Helen where to hide. She knows this is the right thing to do, she has space in the cellar. It’s only one woman, the building won’t mind – surely. One night she sneaks in to give Helen some soup, sees her wearing all the clothes she owns, sleeping on a pile of paper. Barbara prays at night to wipe away the image of the whole building being punished and hung; because she helped her .

She dodges death

An elderly woman sells Helen bread on the street. Spies her socks infested with lice, each night. Helen lights a paraffin lamp to burn the huge insects. She manages to walk away holding her loaf of bread to last for a week as she sneaks back to hide in a cold cellar.

She evades death

Some people make decisions they regret for the rest of their lives and others die knowing they did everything they could.
Helen as an old woman says;
“I took it quite well, I don’t ever want to forget, some people just don’t want to know. I want to appreciate what I have now.”


(Thank you to the Jewish Museum for this opportunity and to Afshan D’souza-lodhi for her ongoing mentoring.) 


Logo and guidelines | Arts Council England 



Cuts of the Cloth at Home Arts Centre

Cuts Of The Cloth upcoming performance at HOME: Fri 18 Jan 2019 – Sat 19 Jan 2019

‘An exhibit for the people.’ 

A Muslim woman has been archived in a museum in the not-too-distant future, to speak to visitors about her relationship with the cloth. What happens to her in a society obsessed with policing the female body, amidst the rise of Islamophobia, UK state violence, and the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy?

Evoking the dystopian feel of A Handmaid’s Tale and George Orwell’s 1984Cuts of the Cloth is a disturbing portrayal of a Muslim woman caught in the net of the ‘war on terror’.

Cuts of the Cloth is a new piece of work commissioned by HOME Arts Centre in Manchester especially for Push Festival 2019

Performer & Writer: Hafsah Aneela Bashir

Co-creator & Director: Nikki Mailer

Video Production, Live Projection and Sound Design : Kooj Chuhan

Time: 7.30pm

Venue: HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place
M15 4FN


We had a ‘work in progress’ script in hand performance of ‘Cuts of the Cloth’ at Oldham Library in July 2018. Along with futher in depth research and development, and guidance from fellow artists, responding to audience feedback has been an important part of how have developed the script for Push festival 2019.

Saria Khalifa

Saria Khalifa’s Reflection: Movement Workshop with Camille Barton

On Saturday 27th October 2018, Nikki Mailer from Outside the Frame Arts organised a workshop with Camille Barton, an artist, researcher and the founding director of the Collective Liberation Project. See her website HERE. Workshop title: MOVEMENT WORKSHOP WITH CAMILLE BARTON: “TRANSFORMING OPPRESSION AT THE ROOT” Exploring racism, sexism and intersectionality. (for womxn: cis women, trans women and non binary people). The workshop brought together 25 womxn from many backgrounds and ethnicities. All coming together with the shared vision of challenging oppression and in particular racism, as well as a love of dancing. Nikki Mailer from Outside the Frame Arts spoke with Saria Khalifa who is a Muslim, Black, migrant woman, about her experiences of the workshop. Saria Khalifa: “My understanding is that there was a strong need for this workshop as many womxn of the Global Majority (Women Of Colour) felt isolated in spaces that claimed to be inclusive and spiritual. There was a desire for those experiences to be shared and recognised and to examine where there can be alternative space for inclusive spirituality/movement practice. The workshop felt like a chance to bring to the surface a lot of things people had been thinking and feeling. I personally found it useful as a lot of the time I think; it’s just me that feels this way. It was powerful to not be the only Person of Colour in the room and that felt like a welcome change from every single other predominately white space I enter. I looked around and I felt how lucky I am that I have this vast rich history. I felt this primarily through the music Camille played when we danced; there was numerous songs that I felt linked to several of my identities or that spoke to me.  When I have been in other movement spaces I so often feel my history is abbreviated or truncated in some way; that it gets reduced to a 3 minute song in a 3 hour dance workshop. Also, where people are from and their skin colour matters, however I feel what can be as important, if not more important, is a person’s understanding of power and privilege and their attitude towards dismantling systems of oppression. There was a lot of white womxn there who showed up and were willing to do work and to examine the systems we live in – being in a space with those womxn was powerful and healing. Camille brought an embodiment of compassionately striving for change. I felt she lived in the space where social justice and mindfulness/spirituality meet. The challenge I have found with many spiritual spaces, in the UK, is that they do not fully examine the relationships and power dynamics within that space, which often can replicate oppression in the external world. I think this makes those spaces challenging for people from the Global Majority (People of Colour) to be in. In addition, Camille discussed and examined the use of spiritualty to provide healing as well as a tool to build resilience in order to continue activism and change the world. Mindfulness can be used as a way to build those reserves. I also like that Camille encouraged and discussed the necessity of feminine ways of collaborating in opposition to capitalism and patriarchy; it encouraged the dismantling of systems as opposed to womxn trying to play stereotypical masculine roles in aggressive ways which can replicate oppressions. The workshop was a metaphor for what was possible. There were moments where we spoke one on one and brought our history and heritage and experiences of oppression and privileges. It was a catalyst and clearly showed a need and interest in this type of work.”  Moving Forward “After the workshop I am keen for there to be more; more spaces where there is a more of a balance of womxn from all over the world. More open, honest, frank discussions about racism and oppression; and the toll that takes on womxn from the Global Majority. More examinations of spiritual spaces and the questions being asked about how we can make this space truly inclusive, healing and radical for everyone. More, dare I say it, spaces where there is more than one or two token women of the Global Majority, where we are able to fully celebrate in our colour, history and heritage. It is not going to be an easy or quick change. It’s going to take lots of difficult, uncomfortable and regular conversations. It’s going to take radical honesty, being able to actively listen, and more importantly than that it is going to take action. There is a lot of great resources out there to enable people to understand race dynamics more; this understanding will go a long way to creating more inclusive spaces. It’s going to take courage to look around the spiritual spaces we enter, and in particular white people to ask ‘who isn’t in this room, why and what can I do to change that?”   Here are some resources from Camille Barton Anti-racism organisations with Educational Resources Books
  • Reni Eddo-Lodge, ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’
  • Akala, ‘Natives’
  • Robin D’Angelo, ‘White Fragility’
  • Owens, Angel Kyodo Williams, ‘Radical Dharma’
  • Michelle Alexander, ‘The New Jim Crow’
  • Rae Johnson, ‘Embodied Social Justice’
  • Mike Davis, ‘Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the making of the Third World’
  • John Newsinger, ‘The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire’
  • David Olusooga, ‘Black and British: A Forgotten History’
  • Paul Kivel, ‘Uprooting Racism’
  • Nell Irvin Painter, ‘The History of White People’
  • Noel Ignatiev, ‘How the Irish became White’
  • Dr Joy DeGruy, ‘Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome’ * (She has lectures on Youtube)
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, ‘Between the World and Me’
PDFs Documentary/ Film
  • Black and British: A Forgotten History *BBC iPlayer*
  • The Hard Stop (2015)
  • The 13th(2016)
  • The House I Live In (2012)
  • The Colour of Fear (1994)
Training & Consultancy: The Collective Liberation Project / Collective Liberation

Hafsah Aneela Bashir Poetry Launch @Manchester Literature Festival

‘I started writing to make sense of the world around me, to capture memories incase at some point in my life, I’d forget what I had felt. I write to preserve the heart; wait for the muse, pick up my pen, and follow the journey of a new poem.’ – Hafsah Aneela Bashir

Following her bold performance supporting Danez Smith earlier this year, Hafsah Aneela Bashir returns to MLF to share a special theatrical performance of poems from her debut collection The Celox And The Clot. Between the uncertainty and doubt of relationships under strain, to the tragedy of war and its fundamental injustices, Hafsah’s debut collection unapologetically examines the human condition, and the conflicts that arise within us. What does it take to be who we are? What are we prepared to ignore or accept? Never complacent, always conscious of the many journeys each of us must make; this is a collection that travels with us. Directed by theatre-maker Nikki Mailer, Hafsah will be accompanied by Sufi singer and musician Sarah Yaseen. Join us for what’s sure to be an electrifying and provocative performance.

Tickets available here.

from Songs of Protest

The first form of protest I ever saw
was in a gathering of women,
conservative, strict, steadfast,
all leaving the layers accumulated over time at the door.
Slow careful unravelling of headscarves
unveiling shy glints of tinder beneath black robes.

In the centre of the room
a hollowed drum, leathered skin tight on either end,
a silver baton-like spoon tapping surely against it,
bangled hands clapping, no placard in sight,
only the familiar glint of fire in the eyes,
the tell-tale sign when women have had enough.
The strictest of them dipped the shoulder to give permission,
and women morphed to megaphones.

Sueh ve cheeray valia meh kendiyah
Kar chatree di chaawm cha meh bendiyah


Movement Workshop With Camille Barton: Transforming Oppression At The Root

Focus on Racism, Sexism and Intersectionality (for cis women, trans women and non binary people).

Date: Saturday 27th October, 1.30pm to 6pm, Cost: £30 to £50*

Venue: Z-Arts, Hulme, Manchester

*[Fully funded for people of the Global Majority (People of Colour or BAME) and also some funding available to fully or partially subsidise anyone else who wants to join where cost is a barrier (no explanation needed, it’s on trust basis).]

“Join Camille Barton of the Collective Liberation Project for a workshop using dance, mindfulness and self reflection to explore how social justice relates to our bodies as womxn. The session will focus on racism, sexism and intersectionality. Camille will also talk about her lived experience as a Black, Queer womxn and how her approach to anti-oppression work is deeply integrated with mindfulness, the body and the holistic healing of trauma”.

Continue reading “Movement Workshop With Camille Barton: Transforming Oppression At The Root”


Playreading: The Shroud Maker


The writing workshop was followed up the next day by a reading of Ahmed Masoud’s dark comedy ‘The Shroud Maker’ which charted the journey of a woman’s story of survival through modern history. This compelling satirical play was directed by Richard Beecham and performed by internationally renowned actress Kathryn Hunter whose portrayal of 80 year old Hajja Souad living on the besieged Gaza strip, was deeply moving.

The play delved deeply into the intimate life of ordinary Palestinians weaving a path through Palestine’s turbulent past and present. The staged reading successfully sold out with many being added to a waiting list. It drew in an extremely diverse audience of around 90 people, many of who were from a Black Asian & Minority ethnic background. Activists supporting the Palestinian cause were interested to see how politics and the arts are intrinsically connected. Many in the audience felt a sense of solidarity and a need to offer support since the event highlighted bringing minority voices to the forefront. Some who attended were artists curious to see new work. Overall the subject matter though universal, also explored the nuances of ‘ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstance’. The added bonus of the talented and well-known actor Kathryn Hunter also drew in a wider audience.

Inclusive and diverse audience engagement is vital to us at Outside The Frame Arts as often we have found through our engagement with the arts that theatre is inaccessible to many marginalised and underrepresented communities – largely being an arena consisting of and catering for the white middle class. This event represented how a real investment for change – a conscious step away from the status quo, can reshape and redefine the demographics of audience development, create a better understanding between people who would not normally engage with each other and enhance community spirit on a local and global level. It also encourages well-known establishments to reevaluate their outreach work and be open to welcoming diverse artists as skilled and talented contributors with distinct experience and knowledge, into the structures that make up the arts world.




The event closed with a Q&A session with Ahmed Masoud hosted by co-director of Outside The Frame Arts, Hafsah Aneela Bashir, opening up space for the audience to have an engaging and in-depth discussion with Ahmed spanning comedy, literature, his childhood, representation and moral responsibility through the arts.

Ahmed Masoud was extremely generous and warm, discussing the complexities of his experience as a Palestinian writer and the challenges he has faced with his work. He explained how he was unable to go to Palestine to attend a well-known literature festival he had been invited to speak at, yet his British friends crossed the border easily.

As a Palestinian man, we learnt that the restriction on his freedom and basic human rights informs how and why he chooses to write. He emphasised that for him, it was imperative to write. In this vein, as a writer fighting for survival, there is no choice but to put pen to paper. He garnered a positive response from the audience many of whom stated they wanted to learn more about the region, its culture and the rich canon of arts it has to offer.


A terrific production – wonderful and so moving to be able to see something here in Manchester that so vividly conveys the spirit of survival of ordinary people in Palestine.’


‘Fantastic and original work. I’d love to see more play readings and other work of this caliber.’


‘It was a great experience. The play was very heart-touching. Hunter was brilliant. Thanks for organizing and bringing Palestine spirit to Manchester’.


‘I find this more powerful than direct examples of war. Human experience and comedy worked really well. Well done to everyone involved in this production.’


Creative Writing Workshop with Palestinian Playwright Ahmed Masoud

On the 9th of June 2017, Outside The Frame Arts in collaboration with HOME arts centre, produced an event which brought acclaimed Palestinian playwright Ahmed Masoud to Manchester to deliver an exclusive writing workshop with participants. Having had the pleasure of engaging with his work through our initial project Platform For Palestinian Arts in 2016 and realising the demand that exists for a much more diverse body of literature, we wanted to continue the work with our ethos in mind, platforming voices that are unheard in the mainstream and challenging the gatekeepers of knowledge. Too often minority voices are silenced, written for, spoken to or erased completely and the crucial need to decolonise, re-center and give agency back to individuals to narrate their own stories is just as pertinent now as it ever was.

So, funded and supported by Future Ventures Radical Arts Fund, Outside The Frame Arts arranged for the workshop to be held in the morning and was attended by 15 diverse participants from a variety of creative backgrounds. The workshop explored aspects of theatre writing including storytelling, plot devices and character building as well as giving participants an insight to the challenges faced by Ahmed Masoud’s writing as a person of colour in a world where the Palestinian narrative is so contested. Themes raised in the workshop included the representation of trauma, the silenced voice, comedy as a political tool and the nuances of our human condition.

Everyone was encouraged to share and the inclusive workshop was useful to the participants in terms of their creative development. Ahmed’s encouraging and positive manner provided a safe and comfortable space for learning and many were inspired by the diverse writing and technical tools he introduced them to.

The workshop was inspiring and helpful and it was great to meet and learn from different people.’


‘It gave me a chance to learn more about Palestine and what it means to struggle.’ The event has been fabulous, very interesting, fun, creative and a great opportunity to benefit from Ahmed’s experience which he has communicated in a generous and organized way.’


‘It was really helpful at this point in my life and work because I lack the confidence and strategies to begin writing. The exercises were really clear, helpful and very effective.’


‘I attended the workshop as I want to be a successful working writer and Outside The Frame Arts give high quality opportunities to develop writers.’