What Do You See? aims to advance the conversation around identity, unconscious bias and uncomfortable truths.

The provocative theatrical piece communicates an idea so central to the human condition yet so often forgotten: that despite our differences, we all contribute to the collective experience.

The performance will run from 7–8 October in Jersey and is made possible by Royal Bank of Canada’s partnership with ArtHouse Jersey.

What Do You See? is brought to life by The PappyShow’s 12-member cast and team of 27 creatives who weave together words, song, dance, design, costume and audio-visuals to deliver their most diverse and ambitious work to date. The team collectively represents a range of physical/emotional abilities, race, sexualities, age and body shapes.

It’s a cross-section of the identities within Great Britain, says Tom Dingle, director of ArtHouse Jersey. “The approach I’ve seen The PappyShow take is that at the heart of it, we’re all human with different experiences. We are a product of our experiences, genetic makeup and the socio-economic groups we were born into,” he says. “[But] we all have a role to remain curious about the world and the people around us, including to check our intention and the impact of what we say.”

A diverse approach to inclusion

What Do You See? brings the language of identity and inclusion to the vanguard of social discussion in a creative way. The PappyShow commissioned a diverse group of artists – from traditional writers and filmmakers to movement artists and poets – to interpret the question “What do you see?” and present their perspectives. “Kane Husbands, artistic director of The PappyShow, then began to pull in the different themes and worked with the cast and designers to create the performance,” says Dingle. “It doesn’t have a very traditional structure, as it relies upon testimony and people’s direct thoughts – it’s high energy.”

What Do You See? aims to provoke discussion around how our lived experiences shape our views of others and the world around us. It explores the effects of stereotyping and varying degrees of privilege systemically present in society, as well as our response to identity and otherness.

Supported by RBC Emerging Artists, The PappyShow was in residency at ArtHouse Jersey twice during its development period, which began during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown.

“The RBC Emerging Artists Project works with organisations dedicated to advancing artists’ careers,” says Ann Marie Vibert, managing director, head of Banking and Specialised Solutions for RBC Wealth Management in the British Isles. “We can think of no better partnership than with ArtHouse Jersey and The PappyShow to help bridge the gap from emerging to established, whilst championing our collective values of diversity and inclusion.”

RBC’s support has been a vital part of getting the production to Jersey. “This sponsorship means we’re able to bring it to Jersey, cover the costs and not have to put a huge gate up,” Dingle says. “We can offer it to schools completely free of charge, plus keep the ticket price low for the public and have an option where people can pay what they can.”

The partnership helps support ambitious pieces of work that can have a positive effect on a community. “Supporting the arts and the role they play in building vibrant and diverse communities stems from RBC’s belief that wealth is about more than just a person’s finances,” adds Vibert.

A compounding impact

Dingle is quick to point out What Do You See? isn’t just a Jersey-focused production. “They do workshops with community groups up and down the country,” he says. They’ll also be running workshops with schools in Jersey with the support of RBC. “Every conversation [with community members] is interesting and useful to them … their process is to constantly research – even when they’re performing, they’re technically researching.”

According to Dingle, it’s a mission of empowerment. He says The PappyShow provides space in their workshops, classes and performances for personal growth, with the idea that it’s fine not to be aware of another person’s plight. “But once you are, you have to build empathy with that,” Dingle says. “All of us are facing some very real questions about our responsibility and what we can do to help.”

The PappyShow has a tendency to ignite action. “What is brilliant about groups like The PappyShow is they’re trying to keep hold of the positive, the joy and the energy,” says Dingle. “People come away feeling buzzed and inspired.”

Find out more about RBC’s support for the arts and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

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