Introducing our Associate Producers

Written by Aksana & Diandra
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17th February 2021

We are delighted to welcome Associate Producers Aksana Khan and Diandra McCalla to the China Plate team!

We will be working with them in Ladywood and North Birmingham to scope out, support and develop stories celebrating Caribbean and South Asian Communities, as part of a co-curated programme alongside the development of the Bus Boycott (working title) musical.

Two overlapping circles containing photographs of two young women; smiling and looking directly at the camera.

Can you introduce yourself?

Diandra: Hey there! I’m passionate about creating engaging arts experiences, especially for young people along with underrepresented and socially disadvantaged communities. I’m also a music-lover with an enthusiasm for baking cakes, though they don’t always look the best, they taste great.

Aksana: I’m a history nerd who does what she can because our postcodes shouldn’t affect our life chances. (I’ve gone on many monologues about this elsewhere!) Before coming to China Plate, I worked mainly in heritage with a specific focus on advocating for young people of colour from working class backgrounds.

What’s your top producer tip/takeaway?

Diandra: I’d say to get to know as many different artists, companies and communities around you as possible. Being a producer means you’ll never know where conversations may lead and so it’s good to build up a diverse network of connectors and peers around you for support and sharing tips and resources.

Aksana: Agreed! And if someone told me how important using Google Sheets/Excel was going to be, I’d have laughed. When I was studying, it was all about essays and writing long sentences. There’s a lot of research when you’re producing and a lot of information to absorb. So, get familiar with using spreadsheets!

What’s your favourite quote?

Diandra: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”– Maya Angelou.

Aksana: “Water off a duck’s back” – I say that when I need to ground myself and crack on with the day ahead.

What aspiration do you have for 2021?

Aksana: This is probably the most pandemic-inspired response, but I think like all of us, we’re just hoping to be able to see our loved ones soon.

Diandra: I’d really like to go on holiday, but I think my short-term goal is to just to go out more.

Is there a book, TV programme, etc. you are really enjoying?

Diandra: At the moment I’m really enjoying Rupaul’s Drag Race UK. It’s the perfect amount of glitter and escapism that’s needed during lockdown.

Aksana: Ooh – that’s me as well. I’ve been really rude to my friends because I’ve just been sending voice notes of me singing “Bing bang bong” so the song’s always in their heads.

A little bit about the work you’re doing with China Plate and the conversations you’re looking to have?

Diandra: We’re in the early days of developing a collaborative community programme around China Plate’s new musical. Its working title is ‘Bus Boycott.’ The ambition is to premiere it in 2022 – which isn’t that far away.

Aksana: We know that at the moment, life is full for a lot of us during lockdown. And we hope that we can instill a bit of hope by looking to the future. In terms of conversations, because this musical is based on the true events of the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott, it would be wicked to find out what was going on in Brum at that time. We also want to connect the dots between activism back then and with what’s happening right now.

Diandra: We’re essentially looking to connect with individuals, community groups, and organisations who are deeply invested in their local communities in Ladywood and North Birmingham. We want to know how best we can support you and how we can work together. If this sounds like you, please get in touch!

If you would like to find out more, please contact us on:

[email protected]

[email protected]

This work is supported by Birmingham City Council.

Written by Roy Williams OBE, with music and lyrics by Tim Sutton, “Bus Boycott” (working title) is a brand-new outdoor production, with soul shaking music and heart pounding politics, based on the true events of the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott – a pivotal event in British Civil Rights.

Produced by China Plate in association with Birmingham Hippodrome.