A BRADFORD city councillor is to take to the stage to tell the story of growing up as a first-generation immigrant in Yorkshire in the 1980s.

Mum of two Kauser Mukhtar,44, from Bradford, whose father came to England from Pakistan in the 1960s to work in the Yorkshire woollen mills, says her show “Khooghi” meaning dove, is partly her own story and that of thousands of other people of Pakistani heritage, whose home is now the UK.

Kauser will perform her visual musical theatre show at Holmfirth Arts Festival on 17 September.

Performing alongside Harry Hingham, the family friendly show draws on Pakistani musical and oral folklore, to tell the story of her own ‘culture and heritage’ and its Kashmiri roots.

“It was an idea I had carried around in my head for many years,” says Kauser.

“People in my community are not used to having theatre made for them; that is why I wanted to do this.

“The show looks at how cassette letters connect the British Pakistanis who came to work in the mills to their families in Azad Kashmir in Pakistan.

“The Khooghi folk story travels through many generations having been brought to life by the Sufi Saint Muhammed Baksh in British India, under the shadow of the Empire.”

In the play, the story follows the red dove Khooghi popularised by Alam Lohar, Pakistan’s most famous folk singer.

He is someone who Kauser had listened to in her house in England from a young age and she is a huge fan: “Alam Lohar is my earliest musical memory; he is just amazing.  He brought Sufi poetry to the masses.”

Kauser’s play is set within a toy theatre stage, using puppetry, music and song to tell a story of humour, tragedy and hope, built around a Kashmiri folk tale Saif ul Mulooq (The Journey of Love) with a brand-new script written in both Punjabi and English.

Kauser created the show, after attending the Bradford Producing Hub and winning a Make Work commission to create her own creative piece.

She says she is delighted to have been commissioned to appear at Holmfirth Arts Festival, taking place from 17-19 September in Holmfirth, near Huddersfield.

The play was written by Kauser and has been directed by Alison Duddle.

Kauser said many people who are of Pakistani heritage and now living in Bradford come from the Azad Kashmiri region and the themes of the performance will resonate with them.

Kauser said: “The reason I pushed myself to create the show is that my daughters are now second generation and I really wanted to carry on the story of our heritage and culture.

“I want to make arts and culture accessible to all and new audiences as I never did when I was growing up.”

Holmfirth Arts festival runs from 17- 19 September 2021, with several outdoor performances and street theatre, as well as indoor ticketed venues.