The City Circle is an open circle for open minds

It may come as a surprise to know that 50 per cent of developing a novel goes into deigning the story and the other half into writing.

The writer designs a selection of elements to include in the story. The elements must arouse an emotional response in the reader, such as excitement, fear, or compassion. Take Michael Mopurgo’s War Horse (1982). We experience a variety of emotions as we follow the story of the farm boy and the horse – initially the love between the two; then the fear of the first world war approaching; followed by loss as they are separated; and finally reunion. 

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City Circle recently co-hosted a panel talk - Dara: Bridging Cultures Through Art, at SOAS.

Below, Anwar Akhtar, one of the panellists, Director of the Samosa media project and production consultant to the National Theatre and Ajoka Theatre on the play Dara, reflects on the panel discussion, the profound impact the play has had with audiences in the UK, as well as wider issues re the arts, media, representation and cultural exchange between Pakistan and Britain.
Given the recent tragic events in Paris and Copenhagen, now more than ever we need non-confrontational media platforms that are based on intellectual rigour and a free exchange of ideas. Dialogue between arts, youth and cultural groups worldwide is essential if we are to challenge prejudices and build more global collaboration

The Samosa Media Project - Pakistan Calling & Dara –Peace Building Initiatives

In 2013, the Samosa media project in partnership with the RSA set up and launched an online film project - Pakistan Calling  Working with film makers from Karachi, Lahore, London, Luton and Manchester, we produced and curated over 60 films looking at issues, from identity and equality to education, conflict resolution and minority rights issues in Pakistan and the UK.

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The history writer Tom Holland has waded into the argument about how Islamic the Islamic State is, originally sparked by an article in the Atlantic. His argument is that their rhetoric is full of pious references to scripture and that they faithfully apply the rulings to be found in the classical jurisprudential (fiqh) texts. In other words, Da‘esh is very Islamic; in fact, Islamic in a way that is too embarrassing for Muslims to acknowledge. Instead, “apologists” apparently muddy the waters by denying that ISIS is authentically Islamic, an exercise that mirrors the futility of the Catholic Council of Trent trying Canute-like to hold back the tide of the Protestant Reformation.

There are at least four reasons why this line of argument is simply perverse and dangerous.

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January 1999 was like any other January: cold and dark.  It was Friday after work and a room had been booked at Toynbee Hall on Commercial Street in East London, a stone throw from the City’s square mile.  The small group that met on that cold winter’s evening were an eclectic bunch: a mix of backgrounds, interests, views, qualifications, religious affiliations.  They all yearned for something different and relevant. They were all there for what felt like the start of an adventure. Where that adventure might lead no one foresaw.  It was unclear what the plan was – or even if there was one.  No manifesto was written nor grand strategy drafted – the group was free of even these constraints.  Free to evolve and to continue to re-invent itself.  Free to remain relevant.   The City Circle was born that night. 

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