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Inspired by their consultation with older people in the summer of 2017, young people have spent the past five months unearthing and celebrating the group recreational, social and community activities for children and young people that took place in London’s East End during the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Thanks to an award from the Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots programme, Playful Heritage has enabled us to work with young people to connect with older generations, allowing them to discover activities that they have both shared and changes in society; consequently bridging the generational divide.
Led by young people, this hands-on intergenerational research project has been informed by the impact of post-war regeneration, housing challenges, poverty and changing communities in the Tower Hamlets area. It has also been an insightful opportunity to highlight the elders’ memories, document their activities and contextualise this activity for contemporary communities.
It has been fascinating hearing elders from our local community talking about the group games and activities they took part in when they were younger; and wonderful to see the young people so engaged in their stories – particularly when they realised they sometimes took part in the same activities, just decades apart! It has been a real privilege to meet so many lovely people from across the decades and hear a diverse range of personal memories.
“The Brady Club was a safe place to come to after school for a couple of hours. There was a sense of belonging. Memories were made here and lifelong friendships.”
Martine Kaufman, local elder
“I go to football and swimming – clubs are important so that you get to build your confidence, and make new friends.”
Sonny B, Youth Theatre member
Our four oldest Youth Theatre groups have spent the last two terms creating shows inspired by talking to older people and their research into the heritage of play in the East End.
Playful Heritage events,
Thursday 5 July, 6.30pm – Eclipse Youth Theatre: The Bomb Site Playground
Thursday 5 July, 8pm – Lunar Youth Theatre: Down the Olde Rub-A-Dub
Friday 6 July, 6.30pm – Equinox Youth Theatre: A Stroll Down Memory Brick Lane
Friday 6 July, 8pm – Solar Youth Theatre: Rock Around The Clock
Saturday 7 July, 12pm – Equinox Youth Theatre: A Stroll Down Memory Brick Lane
Saturday 7 July. 1.30pm – Solar Youth Theatre: Rock Around The Clock
Saturday 7 July, 3pm – Eclipse Youth Theatre: The Bomb Site Playground
Saturday 7 July, 4.30pm – Lunar Youth Theatre: Down the Olde Rub-A-Dub
For five months from February to June 2018 members of our four oldest Youth Theatres have been researching and discovering group social activities undertaken by young people in the East End. Hands-on sessions have included trips to the Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives (some of their images are below, used with permission), interactive sessions with community elders, interviewing older members of the community, and learning research, writing, interviewing and oral history skills.
The Playful Heritage performances will be recorded for future viewing and will be available on Stages of Half Moon, our digital archive website celebrating the history of Half Moon Theatre. Alongside the films there will also will be photos, memories and interviews with many of the elders involved with the project.
Visit www.stagesofhalfmoon.org.uk and search ‘Playful Heritage’ (this will go live after the performances on 7 July).