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Inspired by their consultations with older people, our four oldest Youth Theatre members spent five months from February to June 2018 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. Hands-on sessions included trips to the Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, interactive sessions with community elders, interviewing older members of the community, and learning research, writing, interviewing and oral history skills. They then used this stimulus to create four new shows inspired by what they had discovered.
Thanks to an award from the Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots programme, Playful Heritage 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 was been informed by the impact of post-war regeneration, housing challenges, poverty and changing communities in the Tower Hamlets area. It was also been an insightful opportunity to highlight the elders’ memories, document their activities and contextualise this activity for contemporary communities.
It was 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 was 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
Watch the short video below to find out more about the Playful Heritage project, featuring extracts from our four Youth Theatre productions and interviews with everyone involved, including local elders, the young people taking part, Youth Theatre tutors and the Director of Half Moon.
The Playful Heritage performances were all recorded and are available on Stages of Half Moon, our digital archive website celebrating the history of Half Moon Theatre. Alongside the films, there are also photographs, memories, sound files and video interviews with many of the elders involved with the project.
Click the button below or visit www.stagesofhalfmoon.org.uk and search ‘Playful Heritage’.