ECA has been busy in the community this week getting involved in a range of community-based activities this week, spanning the arts, culture, education and health.
On Tuesday 21 March, ECA members and trustees was invited by the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to participate in a Creative Exchange workshop on the Opera House’s latest creative development –
Insurrection: A work in progress
Insurrection takes it cue from the radical folk traditions of enslaved black people in Barbados. The performance piece celebrates the human need to gather, move, make music and tell stories amid and in response to oppression.
Baritone artist Peter Braithwaite developed insurrection while investigating his own ancestors, who were enslaved workers on sugar plantations in Barbados. Insurrection maps out the story of rebellion and resistance in Barbados.
Insurrection weaves a range of themes into the opera genre including Barbadian folk music and traditional spiritual hymns that emerged on the island from the days of Slavery. ECA members participated in a follow-up workshop designed to capture participants experiences of Insurrection: A work in progress. To help guide the creative team’s future thinking. Furthermore, to explore the wider theme of how music changes the world – a conversation aimed at informing ROH learning and contribute to ROH widening the stories the Royal Opera House tells.
Rush: Through the eyes of my ancestor
Following a similar theme, On Wednesday 22 March ECA trustees and members were invited by the Chickenshed company in Enfield to attend the performance of Rush: Through the eyes of my ancestor.
Chickenshed is an Enfield-based inclusive theatre company that first began in 1974. The company creates theatre for all ages and run successful outreach projects, education courses and membership programmes throughout the year.
Rush: Through the eyes of my ancestor is a high energy performance of dance, music and serious narratives by young people of all abilities, blended together through three historical influences that still impacts contemporary society. 1800s, West Africa when the British have begun colonisation. As the local people are forced to confirm to the will of the colonisers, one young woman, Abeni stands alone in resisting the unwelcome strength of the Empire.
The pace then speeds through to the 1960s London. The swinging sixties brings music, modernity and new cultures to post war Britain. A generation of Caribbeans are invited into the city, excited for new horizons and opportunity. Another young woman, Missy joins them, quickly discerning the obstacles keeping her from settling into her new home.
2018, London. In order to be closer to her university, Aya moves in with her grandmother, Missy on a run-down council estate. However, gentrification is now challenging their newly found companionship as a good profit can be made by developers and the council from the place they call home.
According to the Ashley Driver, Creative Lead for Rush, “Rush began as three separate ideas that I wanted to explore. The effects of gentrification on the long-term residents of an area. Secondly the Windrush Scandal of 2018 that broke my heart and filled it with anger. Finally, the dangerous aspects of colonisation and manifest destiny.”
My Home drama performance
Drama and performance were once again at the heart of another great performance on Friday 24 March at Green Towers Edmonton. ECA supported the ‘My Home’ project delivered JaZanne Arts - Annie Smol, MBE and Jacqui Livingston.
This innovative 12-week project started in October 2022 and ran every Monday morning, 11am – 1pm at Community House. A regular cohort of 15 elders many from ECA's weekly luncheon club were engaged and participated in these creative performance workshops. The sessions were interactive and required the elders to explore objects from their childhood homes e.g. hot comb, iron, a bottle of Guinness. In addition to working in groups writing poetry and songs. They also acted out a range of role plays/scenarios on the ‘My Home’ theme.
The group shared personal stories about their journeys from the different parts of the British Empire to London. The group shared their stories and experiences with a year 4 class in Fleecefield Primary School based in Edmonton. The children listened to the group’s stories and experiences of homes here and abroad as well as contribute their own ideas and thoughts about their own homes and experiences.
The result, a superb inter-generational performance at Green Towers with singing, movement, drama performances involving both Fleecefield Primary school children and the ECA elders. Everyone who attended, particularly the school children learning from the experiences of the elders.
London Health Festival at Green Towers
Finally on Saturday, 25 March, ECA supported the London Health Festival at Green Towers Centre in Edmonton Green. The event was Organised by the The Caribbean & African Health Network (CAHN), with more than 150 people coming to meet and network with a variety of health professionals, listen to health talks and ask questions. There was health screening and vaccination advice from CAHN nurses, live entertainment, food and much more.
According to ECA-CATHIP Project Lead, Dionne Johns, "The health festival was a great success. It was truly informative and relevant to anyone wanting to maintain a long and healthy life. It was greatly valued by everyone in the African Caribbean community.
"Well done CAHN you really delivered. It was a really well organised event with excellent speakers and activities."