In 2016 the iconic Trellick Tower of the Kensal Rise estate celebrates its 50th anniversary since being commissioned. Designed by Erno Goldfinger, its 31 floors of concrete flats have come to typify Brutalist architecture. In July 2016, young performers from the SPID Theatre Company brought its past to life with an immersive theatre production. The Jack Petchey Foundation awarded SPID with a £750 Small Grant to support the project.
Taking inspiration from the memories of those living in Trellick Tower and its surrounding estates, SPID invited audiences to explore the buildings and the stories they hold. The young people created the show by incorporating their stories and experiences of the estate. Their sixty minute performance included a map-based treasure hunt designed to encourage exploration; audience members were given headphones and encouraged to listen to recordings of local residents while the story unfolded around them.
This project gave the young people valuable writing, performing and design experience. Through weeks of work, the young people designed, directed and wrote the tour-cum-immersive performance themselves, with guidance from the SPID staff. As well as drawing on their own experiences, the young people worked with oral historian Rib Davies to interview the Trellick residents, which was used for the interactive audio material. Not only did this teach the young people more about the history of the estate, it taught them about oral history and how to conduct research for a theatre piece such as this. As well as learning these important skills, the project raised the profile of the young peoples' work and connected them with other young estate residents; it brought them together to work collaboratively, honing their team building skills and encouraging them to value each other. The final performances also fostered local pride in the estates where the young people lived, championing their history and their strong community spirit.
Helena Thompson, Jack Petchey Coordinator for the SPID Theatre Company commented on the show: “The young people really took ownership of the project. They discussed what skills they wanted to showcase and decided to structure the performance like a game in order to encourage local audience members to get as involved as possible. Their enthusiasm for the project spread to the audience, bringing people together in a positive way.”
The young people thoroughly enjoyed the project, relishing in the chance to turn their home into a stage; Boris aged 16 from the local Edenham estate said, “I loved making my own show. It’s so great to perform right here on my own estate!” Chloe aged 14 from the Kensal estate said, “I’m so glad the audience encored us. I think they were really surprised by how good we all were.”
The project was even featured on the BBC’s Inside Out programme. Watch the clip below on YouTube to learn more about the project and hear more on what the young people involved thought about their theatric experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM
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