Becky Downing: 31 Letters In My Alphabet
The piece I have created represents some of the voices, languages and accents that make up the tapestry of our rich range of dialects in Liverpool. There are 26 letters in the English alphabet, 28 in the Arabic alphabet, 26 in the Mandarin Chinese alphabet and 31 letters in the Romanian alphabet; these are just some of the languages that make up our culture.
By reaching out to communities to explore words, language and poetry in a series of workshops, I have created a spoken word piece that reflects the different voices, dialects and expressions of these communities, and worked alongside each individual to help them create a poem that they feel represents part of their identity.
Initially I was interested in the Scouse accent having been made up of a collection of accents from when Liverpool was a prominent port, and wanted to explore the idea that language and conversation adapts and shapes the environment it finds itself in. This idea then grew into shaping stories and language as ‘Identity’ through the tool of poetry and conversation.
All of this was collated by facilitating workshops that explored both Scouse slang as well as each community’s own cultural slang and phrases, playing games with language, creating an interactive chalkboard, where people were able to write their own words/pet names/slang, and ultimately exploring how to create poetry from a single idea and unique voice.
I also interviewed 1st and 2nd generation members of our community as part of these research and development workshops so that I could record voice clips to use in the final piece.
This collection of words and voices has been used to create the spoken word video performance below.
Becky Downing is a 25 year old writer/actor from Liverpool. She has been writing poetry from a young age and started acting at 17 when she wrote and performed for Liverpool based theatre company Theatre in the Rough in the Liverpool and the Titanic Festival (2012). Since then Becky has worked creatively with the company as a writer on a number of projects including her audio drama Haunted Sefton (2015), The Jewellery Box (2015), and most recently co-produced and presented the Company’s BBC Arts recognised podcast Outside In (2020). She wrote and performed her own one woman play ‘We’ve Been Bette…’ (2018) for Theatre 503, London and has since performed on various productions in a number of theatres and toured up and down the country. Becky graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA Hons in English Literature (2016), attended L’École Jacques Lecoq Clown School (2017) and went on to train with the National Youth Theatre (2019).