The latest episode of Freelance Pod was recorded in front of a live audience at the London Podcast Festival in September 2019. Abdul Tahhan joined me onstage to guide us through his forced journey from Aleppo, Syria to London, and what’s happened in the six years since. As his own upcoming podcast aims to show, a refugee’s story doesn’t end when they get leave to remain in a safe place - but a new story of integration does begin.
While we did deal with serious subjects, Abdul is always keen to highlight the fact that refugees often respond to tough times as anyone else would do - with a lot of humour. That’s part of why Abdul is such a great storyteller, especially when it comes to experiences we don’t often hear enough about.
From the hierarchy of who gets to sleep on which floor in an abandoned Syrian post office that somehow keeps escaping the bombs, to whether or not he should add “love” on the end of his customer chat as a barista, Abdul’s perspective shines a new light on the things we take for granted.
I’m also incredibly pleased that the audience got into the spirit of things really quickly, despite the fact that, firstly, some of that laughter is going to be uncomfortable, and secondly that the Life in the UK Test questions they tried to answer are, yup, completely off the wall.
I loved pulling together a live show and performing it in front of the audience, so I’m thrilled to be getting the chance to put on a couple more shows this year - more info further down this email.
Here are the slides that provided the backdrop and structure to the 90-minute show. They’re worth a quick click through as we do refer to them on the episode, but you don’t need to look at them or have them up the enjoy the pod.
A huge thank you to Abdul for all the time and effort he put in; to London Podcast Festival programmer Zoë Jeyes for including Freelance Pod on the bill; and to my wonderful friends who turned up in the audience, answered silly questions and looked happy when they won even sillier prizes! Thank you so much for being there ❤️
Things I’m doing IRL
Voting for the winners of The Lovie Awards!
Freelance Pod has been shortlisted for Best Host - Podcasts, and the results are out tomorrow…
I’ve written down my thoughts on adapting an audio-only medium for a visual and interactive live experience - and you can come along to my workshop at the Newsrewired conference in late November to learn the live show has helped grow the audience for my work in general - and could do the same for you (at freelancer or organisational level)
Two new live shows:
Freelance Pod will be playing the newly-refurbished Boulevard Theatre Soho (see picture above for how it used to look), on 17th November, as part of their Sunday Service programme. It’s a gorgeously intimate space, and I’ve got a special surprise guest who I’ll announce soon. Come along and join us! It’s a lot less neon and X-rated now, promise 😂
Thrilled to be taking the podcasting sessions on the Nike - Press Association - NCTJ free Women’s Sports Journalism course this autumn
What I’ve been writing
I didn’t write this one, but I’m quoted here because I do love a good one- or half-day OOO to manage expectations
Events to look out for
23rd October: Scott Flashheart’s London meetup for queer podcasters
A question for podcasters - please tweet Sarah back today if possible
What to watch
Kendall Roy rapping on Succession, on a loop, like a boot stamping on a human face, forever
I enjoyed Phoebe Waller-Bridge hosting SNL, and it’s a shame that this parody tampon advert got cut for time
Gemma Milne’s YouTube series for aspiring authors: the publishing industry is pretty opaque to those of us outside of is, so this series is a huge help. Gemma’s book Smoke & Mirrors: How Hype Obscures the Future and How to See Past It is out next April, and available for pre-order now
The Suffering Grasses, a documentary about Syria and Turkey that Abdul Tahhan worked on, and that was a key part of Abdul’s status change to refugee
What to read
Abdul Tahhan’s I can laugh at myself, so does that make me more British?
Micha Frazer-Carroll in The British Journalism Review on race, journalism and who gets to win those all-important journalism awards
Katie Hawkins-Gaar’s newsletter (which I found via Anna Codrea-Rado’s The Professional Freelancer) has become a must-read for me, especially after her poignant edition on ‘secondary losses’ that grief secretly metes out over time
Prachi Gupta’s heart-wrenching Stories About My Brother
A Climate of Change: How the Little Ice Age ushered in the modern world - a must for those of us who were first introduced to this idea via Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando
What to listen to
Kendall Roy rapping ofc
One more time
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff on the Media Voices podcast
The 200-Year-Old: The year is 2218. Ageing has been cured. This pod has major Black Mirror’s San Junipero vibes, and I’m enjoying dipping a toe into audio fiction! Anyone got any suggestions??
Really enjoyed comedian Ed Byrne’s take on how stand-up was a new, untested medium in the 1990s, and it was as difficult to get discovered then as it can be to get your podcast noticed by the masses now… Blank Podcast is fast becoming a fave listen
Looking forward to the new Sue Perkins pod
Here’s another button to listen to the Freelance Pod live show:
As always, if you have a moment and feel like it, please rate and review the Freelance Pod over on Apple Podcasts
That’s all from me this week, will write again soon x