AirPlay: Young writers explore the Partition of India

AirPlay: Young writers explore the Partition of India

Katie Mahon is a third year Theatre and Performance student at the University of Leeds, spending her placement year with Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah as Intern Project Coordinator for our AirPlay project. In this blog, she shares her thoughts on what she’s learned in her time with us:

How the Airplay project came about

Airplay has brought together a group of young writers to create a radio play based on the Partition of India. 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of this event. We recruited the writers through flyers in local arts and community centres, contact with local educational organisations and social media.

All the writers came to the project with varying previous knowledge, so we started with several workshops to research stories of Partition and make connections to personal experiences.  As the project progressed, and themes and potential plot lines began to emerge, we all chose parts of the script to write. The final stages involved Peter Stafford. As a professional writer, he facilitated the sessions, collating and editing all of the script extracts into our final piece – a radio play called ‘Sansaar’.

The finished piece will be broadcast on the 10th of June…

and I’m really looking forward to hearing it! I had no previous knowledge of the Partition of India, so it’s been fascinating to learn about.  Some of the stories that surfaced during the writing process were really emotional and thought provoking.

What we’ve gained from taking part

I’d never written a radio play before. Taking part in the project has helped me develop my own writing skills, learning a new art form.  As a theatre student I’m familiar with play scripts, which are set out very differently to radio plays. You have to keep reminding yourself that you can’t see the actors, and there’s an emphasis on sound effects rather than stage directions.

Our group of writers have become good friends.  We all have different backgrounds, skills and interests, ranging from theatre, radio voice-over acting, to translation and writing, but we have a great chemistry together and our group sessions have a fantastic atmosphere. We’ve also made some strong professional links for life,  visiting the BBC in Salford and working with industry professionals.

I loved taking part in the writing sessions as a young writer. But my intern role also gave me responsibility for all the project administration and making sure the sessions were accessible for everyone, acting as a main point of contact.  I was really excited to carry out this role as it was a fantastic opportunity to practice skills I had learned throughout my degree.

Feedback from Participants

The other project participants have found it a similarly positive experience, and two of them recently shared their perspectives with me:

“As a writer and a student of the MA in Writing for Performance and Publication course at the University of Leeds, working on the AirPlay radio project has been a very interesting opportunity for me. It has allowed me to use my writing skills in a professional space as well as gaining a better understanding of writing for radio. Since such writing opportunities are not easy to come by, I am glad to have found one which is closely related to both my own history as well as my field of interest.  Additionally, collaborative writing can be quite tricky, but the smooth progress of the project so far has been due to the friendly atmosphere created by everyone involved.”

Shreya Sikka (student from Delhi)

“Being a part of the AirPlay Project has been a huge learning curve for me. I’ve gained lots of knowledge about Partition and got to grips with a new art form. I’ve made new friends and built up good working relationships which is crucial when working in the arts. The recording day at Chapel FM was loads of fun, it was my first time in a recording studio.”

Molly Rumford (student from Leeds)

The ideas of ‘home’ and ‘partition’ mean different things to different people. Here are some of the images that they represent ideas to our young writers.

‘home’ back in India -Shreya Sikha


Katie’s home in Bradford


Home in Leeds for Aimee Conroy

Don’t forget – ‘Sansaar’ will be broadcast on Chapel FM at 1pm on Saturday 10th June, as part of a day of features about the 70th anniversary of Partition.

For further information on the AirPlay project please listen to: