With what seems like the whole world on the move because of strife, famine and the economy, the question “Where do I belong?” is even more pertinent. Tackling shelter and another basic need, food, are two main concerns of Pepper & Honey, a theatre show (coming to Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff this March) praised for its inaugural run in 2019 and which deals with belonging, change, cultural differences, heritage, homesickness, identity, love, loss, migration and tradition.
Created by the Birmingham-based Notnow Collective and led by theatre-makers and founders Tina Hofman and Kristina Gavran, the work is performed partly in their native Croatian, with translation into English through captioning. Gavran, who penned the play, arrived in the UK in 2013; although Pepper & Honey isn’t autobiographical, she was inspired by her experience of migration and also by stories she heard. “I created the character Ana, a migrant from Croatia and her grandmother [both portrayed by Hofman], but the story can speak to any person, as we all have the experience of trying to fit in.”
“It takes courage to move from home, and it also takes courage to welcome newcomers. Whether you are moving from one village to another, one country to another or across continents. It’s important to find commonalities while respecting differences. We all love trying new foods and recipes, and we’re proud of our own. That’s why the story of Pepper & Honey reveals itself around baking paprenjaci.”
The traditional biscuit made from the title’s ingredients is believed to bring loved ones back home and is a centrepiece, being baked live on stage with audience participation. “I wanted to engage the people,” Gavran explains, “not let them stay in the dark auditorium as observers, but put their hands in the dough, add some spices, crack the eggs in the bowl. The cooking process is the metaphor for connecting with others, as I genuinely believe that food is a language we can all understand.”
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Tue 22 Mar. Tickets: £12/£10. Info: here
words RHONDA LEE REALI
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