A former teacher is to take to the stage in Holmfirth to tell the story of her dual heritage and growing up as the first generation child of immigrant parents in 1980s Yorkshire.
Mum-of-two Kauser Mukhtar, from Bradford, whose father came to England from Pakistan in the 1960s to work in the Yorkshire woollen mills, says her show “Khooghi” meaning dove, is partly her own story and also that of thousands of other people of Pakistani heritage, whose home is now the UK.
Kauser will perform her beautiful, visual musical theatre show at Holmfirth Arts Festival on Friday September 17.
The family friendly show draws on Pakistani musical and oral folklore, to tell the story of her own dual ‘culture and heritage’ and its Kashmiri roots.
“It was an idea I had carried around in my head for many years,” says Kauser, who is 44 and now lives in Bradford, but was born and raised in Halifax. She is also a city councillor in Bradford.
“People in my community are not used to having theatre made for them; that is why I wanted to do this.
“The show looks at how cassette letters connect the British Pakistanis who came to work in the mills to their families in Azad Kashmir in Pakistan.
“The Khooghi folk story travels through many generations having been brought to life by the Sufi Saint Muhammed Baksh in British India, under the shadow of the Empire.”
In the play, the story follows the red dove Khooghi popularised by Alam Lohar, Pakistani’s most famous folk singer. He is someone who Kauser had listened to in her house in England from a young age and she is a huge fan.
“Alam Lohar is my earliest musical memory; he is just amazing. He brought Sufi poetry to the masses,” she said.
Kauser’s play is set within a toy theatre stage, using puppetry, music and song to tell a story of humour, tragedy and hope, built around a Kashmiri folk tale Saif ul Mulooq (The Journey of Love) with a brand new script written in both Punjabi and English.
Kauser created the show, after attending the Bradford Producing Hub and winning a Make Work commission to create her own creative piece.
She says she is delighted to have been commissioned to appear at Holmfirth Arts Festival, taking place from September 17-19.
Kauser said many people who are of Pakistani heritage and now living in Bradford come from the Azad Kashmiri region and the themes of the performance will resonate with them.
Kauser, who was a science teacher in high schools for a decade, added: “I loved being a teacher. Teenagers are flipping brilliant and say it how it is. It was the bureaucracy of the system I found frustrating.
“The reason I pushed myself to create the show is that my daughters are now second generation and I really wanted to carry on the story of our heritage and culture.
“I want to make arts and culture accessible to all and new audiences as I never saw or heard of anything like this when I was growing up.”
Khooghi is to be performed at Holmfirth Arts Festival, at Holmfirth Parish Church, on Friday September 17 at 6pm-7pm.
Khooghi is created by Kauser Mukhtar and co-written and directed by Alison Duddle. It is performed by Kauser Mukhtar and Harry Hingham and funded by Bradford Producing Hub.
More details and tickets from www.holmfirthartsfestival.co.uk/what-s-on