Khadra Mohamed joined the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in July 2021 as the Production Assistant Intern, supported by the Mo Siewcharran Fund.
Khadra was a key member of the team working on Wemba's Dream, a brand new project in partnership with Wembley Park. Wemba's Dream saw the Orchestra collaborate with many Brent-based creatives over several months, which culminated in a day-long performance experience at Wembley Park on Saturday 11 September 2021.
With the project finally premiered, Khadra shares her thoughts on her experience with the RPO and what the internship has meant to her.
"I have lived in Brent my entire life and I jumped at the opportunity to work as a Production Assistant Intern for Wemba’s Dream, a day of performances based in Wembley Park. My time at university heightened my interest in the creative arts – I helped organise fashion shows and I volunteered at a community radio station. It felt like fate that this opportunity arose just as I finished my degree and was based only a walk away from my home.
Wemba’s Dream took place on 11 September, and the day was jam-packed with performances featuring theatre, dance, spoken word, film and music. The four performance pieces were site-specific to Wembley Park and seeing how the artists used casual settings to create these performances was exciting. The event shows that art can be everywhere and not just in designated performance venues, which can create a barrier between the performers and audience.
All the creatives welcomed me with open arms, and I was able to sit in on multiple rehearsals. I went from partaking in RPO-led percussion workshops for children in Brent Youth Theatre to giving the spoken-word collective – Word Up – cues to line up musical accompaniment to their poetry. I even helped Yasmin Nicholas, the filmmaker behind BitterSuite’s performance piece Dream Feel, record segments of her final piece. To not only be trusted and welcomed into rehearsals, but to be included in the artistic journey, has been a real honour and highlight of my internship.
Most of all, seeing the artistic development and rehearsals become something greater was extremely fulfilling. I was unable to truly appreciate how each performance would look in small rehearsal spaces, where the number of artists outnumbered those observing. However, being able to see the performances in each designated spot felt surreal. What really sticks out to me was Brent Youth Theatre’s promenade down the Spanish Steps; to see all the young people perform in costume alongside a handful of the RPO’s brass players is an image I won’t be forgetting soon.
Seeing the audience respond to the performances – whether they were entranced by FubuNation’s fantastic dance or moved by Word Up’s eulogy for those who had passed away from COVID-19 – made me appreciate the importance of this event; it brought together a community.
However, the audience members who I appreciated the most were all the young people. Multiple children asked me about the event and if they could see performances another day because they enjoyed it so much. My own little brother asked to join Brent Youth Theatre because he was so inspired by their performance. The value of Wemba’s Dream lies in its ability to portray an orchestral and artistic scene that is inclusive of everyone – and the positive responses emphasise its success.
The inclusive nature of Wemba’s Dream is a representation of the RPO. I knew nothing about the RPO or any orchestra before I joined this project. I don’t come from a musical background: I don’t play any instruments or know how to read music, but everyone has been very supportive. From players to staff, everyone has taken the time to get to know me and explain anything I was unsure of. My time here has highlighted that at the heart of the orchestra is a shared appreciation of music – which requires no amount of musical education.
My time as a Production Assistant Intern has exposed me to how many roles and opportunities there are in the creative industry and I’m certain that this internship will support me in any further endeavours. There are more jobs in the creative industry than I could have conceived of only a few months ago, and I can’t wait to see what my next adventure is."
Check out the photos and reactions from Wemba's Dream: