At the root of this community research based project lies a philosophical notion, that of the politics of rhythm developed by French poetician Henri Meschonnic for whom rhythm is a form of individuation because rhythm “renews the meaning of things, and it is through rhythm that we reach the sense that we have of our being”. (“The Rhythm Party Manifesto”, Thinking Verse I, 2011, p.165) For him, the political subject resides in rhythm and more precisely in the way individuals phrase their world.

This project investigates rhythm not as the repetition of the same but as an unpredictable celebration of differences; rhythm as resistance against the humdrum packaged and sold by the powers-that-be; rhythm as an ever-changing drive for change; rhythm as what makes us what we are with all our hopes, skips and jumps; rhythm as a missing beat that will not comply; rhythm as openness to others and our other unpredictable selves…

It also pays particular attention to the slippages/inconsistencies/syncopations of issue-led testimonies in order to invite people to move away from off-the-shelf discourses imposed by globalisation towards empowered rhythmic identities.

David and Fred were invited by seven Nottingham-based mixed-heritage families to share a meal within their own home rhythm and sound environments while they cooked, talked and played. Each time, either David or Fred was a stranger at the family table, a stranger who listened and spoke very few words. Then from the encountered soundscapes, motifs, patterns, themes, words, sounds or silences, Tom composed a choral piece.

Composer Thomas Juga-naut Higgins is an artist, rapper, producer and sound-engineer based in Nottingham who has been a Hip-Hop practitioner for over ten years.

David Stickman Higgins is a performance artist. He draws from African traditions and performance styles to reflect on his own British-Barbadian heritage and create innovative person-centred environments to share and learn with others. His work combines music, performance and poetry to connect with other cultures and marginalised communities and rely on risk-taking and exchange. Among his latest collaborators is Hetain Patel for a work entitled Ten that toured internationally. He is presently artist-in-residence with The Spark Arts for Children charity in Leicester, where he works with early years children and their parents.

Fred Dalmasso is a performance-philosophy practitioner interested in the politics of rhythm and its translation and regularly publishes on the relationship between theatre, performance and politics. He recently directed and performed in John Schad’s Nowhere Near London, a play about the imagined exile of the German-Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin and made an accompanying film Nowhere Near Utopia that documents the lives of bombed-out Londoners in South Oxhey and that of newcomers to this London-overspill council estate focusing on the racial and political tensions experienced there in the 1970s and their resonances today.

Thanks to Ameet, Angela, Davinia, Dom, Emma, Franklin, Georgina, Jackie, John, Jordan, Joseph, Jules, Karis, Mala, Max, Noah, Pete, Rohan, Rowan, Samuel, Sancho, Sita, Sue and Tao.

This project was funded by TCCE’s National Academics and Creatives Exchange Programme: