Inclusive. Interactive. Imaginative
Building Bridges E9
- 18th – 18th December 2010
Building Bridges works with communities living in the E9 area of Hackney (Hackney Wick), using writing and drama to enable people of all ages to have their say about where they live. The project is led by our Writer in Residence, Penny Cliff, in partnership with Sanctuary Housing Association.
Hackney Wick, London E9, is the area of Hackney closest to the 2012 Olympic site. The project originally got its name - the Big Blue Fence - because at the same time as Penny’s residency began, a huge barrier was erected along the 11 mile site perimeter, giving the area a startling new landmark. Workshops with young and old began, in schools, clubs and community centres, asking: What is it like to be living so close to the fence? What would you hear if you eavesdropped over the fence and listened in to what people say and think in E9? The debates about these questions took all kinds of creative forms - some groups wrote and performed plays (‘Can I Go Out?’ with Gainsborough Primary School Parents’ Group) and some people shared and recorded their life stories and experiences of living in Hackney from the past to the present (Tyssen House Residential Home, Morningside Estate Over 50’s Club).
After a year, the Big Blue Fence Interactive Installation was created as a showcase for this work. After brief showings in 2008, at Sanctuary’s Well Street Common Festival and the Hackney Wick Festival, we were given Heritage Lottery Funding to take the Installation to 3 Olympic boroughs, capturing how people notice change through their lives and exploring local shared heritage.
Meanwhile, back in Hackney Wick, our work in E9 continues as ‘Building Bridges’…
We have run after school drama clubs in local primary schools. At Gainsborough Primary School, we worked with year 5 and 6 pupils using drama to explore what it’s like to move on to secondary school. At Kingsmead Primary School we ran an after school drama club creating a play about journeys, looking at Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’.
Penny Cliff is currently working with The Good Companions and Concorde Youth Club. The Good Companions are a group of Kingsmead Estate older residents who have been part of the project since 2007. Their first play - The Secret Lives of the Jacksons – was performed in the Kabin at Christmas 2008. The group devised, wrote, rehearsed and performed it – this was their first ever piece of theatre. They enjoyed it so much they went on to create ‘3 Wishes, A Midsummer Comedy’, an intergenerational play performed in a tent on Daubeny Fields on a sunny Saturday afternoon in June 2009. A large audience watched the play, which showed the Good Companions emerging style - funny, gritty, energetic and optimistic. This was followed by a community barbecue and picnic.
It is great to be continuing our intergenerational work with Penny, the Good Companions and Stepping UP. We are currently developing ideas for a co-production with young people at Stepping UP Youth Club on Kingsmead Estate. This will result in a new play to be performed in spring 2010.