Hull's much-loved rap and grime artist Chiedu Oraka has written a stunning spoken word piece to celebrate the tour of Market Theatre Johannesburg's The Suitcase, which debuts at Hull Truck Theatre this month.
The Suitcase follows the story of a young newly married couple in 1950s South Africa. It narrates their experiences of feeling alienated in the city of Durban, where they have just moved to escape their disapproving family.
Chiedu will read the piece aloud on Tuesday 5 September as part of the launch night. His thought-provoking words will also be printed in the show's programme so that audiences can take it home with them.
We caught up with the talented wordsmith to find out more about the piece and his experience writing it.
Great to chat with you, Chiedu. How did you first get involved with The Suitcase?
Hull Truck first got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to write a spoken word piece about my experience of being a black Yorkshireman. I found out more about the show and knew I wanted to get involved.
Can you tell us a little about the piece?
I begin talking about growing up black in Yorkshire. The piece covers the feeling of isolation and alienation. I remember just wanting to fit in. Where I grew up, I was the only black person in school. I'm Hull born and bred but I was the only black person in my primary school, and one of four or five in secondary school.
By the end of it, I talk about finding myself and not really wanting to conform. I'm proud of who I am.
As you're usually a rap and grime artist, how did you find writing a spoken word piece?
This is the first spoken word piece that I've ever created. It was quite difficult at first, actually. I'm an MC, so I know how to put words together, but I wanted to touch on a lot of subjects with this.
With rap and grime, it has a tempo, so it's not that lyrical. The spoken word piece has given me a chance to explore certain topics a lot deeper. I've touched upon difficult subjects with my music, but never honed in on them like I have in this.
So how long have you been making music?
I've been doing it properly for about eight years now. Although, I started putting words together when I was about 15 or 16. I was just messing around with friends at house parties.
It wasn't until I got back from uni that I started to take it all a bit more seriously.
Are you looking forward to performing the piece on the launch night?
I am a bit nervous if I'm honest. Reading out loud is a bit different from performing on stage. It will be my first time doing it and public speaking has always been a fear of mine. I am looking forward to overcoming this fear, though.
The Suitcase runs at Hull Truck Theatre until Saturday 9 September. To find out more, please visit the Hull Truck Theatre website.
Meanwhile, you can discover the music of Chiedu Oraka on Bandcamp."