Play Inside Series 3, Love, Conditionally, is a new series of intimate short audio stories centring around queer love, relationships and not fitting family expectations from anonymous Arab and British writers. Love, Conditionally is the second of two new podcast series created with the Palestinian Freedom Theatre, commissioned by the British Council, and launched by Play Inside this year. The audience spends time with Palestinian, Egyptian, British and UK Arab dual heritage writers, who present stories from their own perspectives of being persuaded, argued, and dragged into conformity by the people they care for most.
These four short stories, all from anonymous authors, will be made available in English and Arabic from Monday 4th December. The stories present rare perspectives on Arab and British (and Arab-British) experience across family, sexuality, and gender. They are launched at a time when it’s more important than ever to listen to underrepresented voices from these groups and allow people from marginalized groups to see themselves reflected. This intimate experiential podcast format enables us to understand complexities, similarities, and differences across cultures through the sensory as well as the imagination.
Splash & Ripple’s Rosie Poebright comments, it’s more important than ever to hear the voices of queer Arabs especially at the moment – although many wouldn’t use this western concept to describe themselves – queer Arab lives exist. We worked with the writers online anonymously over months to create the four stories: it was a beautiful experience full of solidarity, recognition of difference and appreciation of similarity across borders.
These experiential podcasts encourage the listener to experience the stories in their own home as the characters move around in theirs, while mirroring the actions described. The audience’s actions with the story enables shared moments of physical and emotional intimacy and the chance to experience similarities and differences with other people from different countries and cultures. Play Inside worked with the Palestinian Freedom Theatre to create the stories.
Hold Your Hands is the story of Palestinian Sadeen. Exploring different forms of grief – for a loved one, a relationship and a way of life – Sadeen remembers the stories her grandmother told her about old Palestine, and the breakfasts she enjoyed with her ex. Hold Your Hands reminds the listener that the people we love most stay with us forever, even when they’re long gone.
Signs is by an Egyptian writer and tells the story of Nur, who is desperate to stay in contact with her deaf brother, who lives in a different world. The story balances the pull of trying to maintain a close family connection even while strategizing ways to escape the confines of family expectations.
British writer Jo’s episode, Dragged Up, tells the story of a journey to radical self-acceptance and a revelatory start to the day. After a lifetime fitting in, trying and failing to be a good girl, self-understanding has been slowly growing out of the shadows into a bright world where gender isn’t so important any more.
In Half a Heart, Sue’s dual Arab-UK heritage is edging her nearer to a difficult conversation and an impossible choice between the two people she loves most in the world. Sometimes we rehearse conversations repeatedly before we can have them out loud.
Play Inside tells untold stories from unusual perspectives informed by first hand experiences, deepening our compassion and understanding for other people’s lived experiences.