2023: Our Highlights
The Immediate Theatre team look back over some of our highlights from 2023.
As 2023 comes to a close, the Immediate Theatre staff have reflected on some of their highlights from what was an extremely busy year. We are so proud of everything we have achieved and grateful to the community and organisations for joining us through various creative projects and supporting our mission to create performances, enhance skills and engage people in the process of change.
In March, all of our Estate-based Youth Theatre (EbYT) groups came together to perform their ‘Social Action’ pieces. These performances explored issues chosen by the young people themselves that they were concerned about as a community.
This years Social Action competition was the one to beat! Our young people went all out to create powerful pieces of political art, exploring themes such as cyber safety, homelessness and sexual harassment!Hannah Drummond, Pathways to Employment Coordinator
All groups performed in front of a panel of judges, with our Advanced Youth Theatre group taking the first-place prize.
In April, we welcomed the public into our new office and studio space to celebrate the possibilities that our new address brings.
The official opening of our new building in April was a real highlight of the year, celebrating everyone’s hard work creating the space we needed whilst looking forward to all the things we can achieve now we have a home of our own.Suzy Smith, General Manager
We welcomed participants to share their work and celebrated Hackney Council’s Community Fund, which supported our move, over drinks and nibbles.
One highlight of mine from this year was officially opening the Immediate Theatre office and offering up our studio space for similar community groups to use for rehearsals and workshops. With our logo signs installed and regular projects taking place, it feels like the whole Immediate Theatre team have settled into our own home.Sorrel Allen, Marketing Officer
In April, we brought our play, Pressure Drop, to The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick. Written by Anna Bennett in collaboration with Immediate Theatre’s young people, Pressure Drop explores issues faced by the youth of London and wider in the UK.
The performances were accompanied by insightful post-show discussions with theatre industry experts, the cast and crew of the show and Shekeila Scarlett, our Chair of Trustees.
The discussions after each performance at The Yard Theatre really reminded me just how important this work is. I also feel so proud to now have published the script, alongside Indie novella, for schools to continue to work through the important discussions that Pressure Drop started.Jo Carter, Artistic Director
A real highlight for me was watching the performances of Pressure Drop at the Yard Theatre, seeing the audience response to this important production and hearing Shekeila talk so passionately in the final after-show talk.Suzy Smith, General Manager
You can purchase your very own copy of Pressure Drop via Indie Novella's website here.
Hackney Half Marathon
In May, Immediate Theatre staff and one of our trustees, Melissa Butcher, ran the Hackney Half Marathon to raise money for food for our young participants during our projects. On the 21st May, Immediate Theatre staff joined the community in lining the streets and cheering on thousands of runners, and met with our runners afterwards to celebrate.
The Hackney Half was a big highlight for me, it was so fun to run past so many great landmarks in Hackney alongside lots of inspiring causes.Sorrel Allen, Marketing Officer
Watching so many people being cheered on by the crowd to run the Hackney Half, then meeting up with our four runners for a celebratory drink amidst hundreds of others all doing the same thing was a real highlight for me this year.Suzy Smith, General Manager
In June we re-launched our womens-only programme with a new structure. Hannah led the new ‘What’s Your Story?’ project alongside Rhy from BetaMinds to faciliate tailored workshops and explore conversations around self-confidence and identity.
It was a pleasure to experience the process with six WONDERFUL women from Hackney! As a collective they worked on a piece of theatre that discussed their verbatim accounts on 'how society views women'. I am looking forward to expanding this work in the new year and we are working on some exciting partnerships.Hannah Drummond, Pathways to Employment Coordinator
Our annual EbYT project, Breakout, returned in July with the piece Under the Clock written by Gina Theodotou, which explored the emotional impact that a changing environment has on the community.
Young people aged 5-12 staged nineteen scenes, working from a script that was specifically written for them, in four days. Young people made their own set and costumes and were all involved in the whole theatre process. They used physical theatre techniques to convey the themes of home, friendship and what they would like to be remembered for. The performance welcomed 65-70 audience members that were made up of parents/carers, other family members and educators.Charmain Humphrey, Participation Manager
Exposure also returned this year in August, with a performance of Behind the Yellow Line, written and directed by Deane Dixon-Foster. The group performed for the public, friends and family at The Yard Theatre.
Stand behind the yellow line, can’t you read the sign?! This year's Exposure was a true celebration of our young people's creativity. It was jam-packed with their own words, songs, opinions and ideas. We are blessed to have such talent.Hannah Drummond, Pathways to Employment Coordinator
The young people really rose to the occasion and brought whole audiences delighted to their feet in applause.Jo Carter, Artistic Director
We work with Speech Bubbles, a targeted, year-long, evidence-based drama intervention programme for children in KS1 who have Speech, Language and Communication Needs. The programme is designed to give young children an opportunity to have fun telling stories and acting them out, and has a particular emphasis on supporting children to gain confidence and develop their physical and verbal communication skills.
One of our Speech Bubbles practitioners, Flo, shared her reflections on the project for 2023.
It's been such a great year delivering Speech Bubbles at Randal Cremer. The children are great storytellers and theatre makers. I'm lucky to work with a brilliant T.A., Rachel. This term we have been running a mixed Reception and Year 1 group, as well as a year 2 group. The younger group are really playful and imaginative, while the older group work really well together . Both groups are becoming much more confident and expressive. Our Year 2 parents session was huge fun, with a whole family of 1 child attending, and adult siblings translating for parents. We had parents acting as scary monsters, kings and camels! It was a real pleasure to see parents so willing to throw themselves into role, and the joy and laughter both the children, parents and staff get from this.Flo Katesmark, Speech Bubbles Practioner
In October, our 60+ Theatre Exchange Group started rehearsals for Second Chance, written by Penny Cliff and directed by Jack McMahon. Set in a struggling charity shop in Dalston, the piece toured across multiple community groups and venues in Hackney, Newham and Enfield lunch and social clubs, thanks to funding from City Bridge.
This was Theatre Exchange’s first live show in front of an audience since the pandemic! It was very exciting to support the return to in-person shows with this talented and very passionate group of actors, especially as I had only started working with Immediate Theatre in July. The group have been so welcoming and made my work coordinating the tour delightful.Tiziana Silvestre, Creative Connections Programme Coordinator
Listening to Theatre Exchange singing in the studio as they rehearsed for their tour of Second Chance was a real highlight; it was wonderful to have live music in the building.Suzy Smith, General Manager
Voices of Change Launch
My highlight of 2023 was certainly joining Immediate Theatre and being part of our new Voices of Change oral history and podcast project from its beginnings. It has allowed me to meet so many incredible people and learn about fascinating stories, and it’s been particularly exciting to share some of them through our first podcast episode of the Hackney and Newham History Social Club.Carina Vogelsberger, Production Assistant
In collaboration with Hackney's Black History Season, our Hackney and Newham History Social Club met with the public at CLR James Library in November, to fill in their Hackney heritage map with memories and local spaces. We then celebrated the launch of our new oral history project: Voices of Change, funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund.
The first episode of The Hackney and Newham History Social Club came out in November, the same time we launched our oral history project, Voices of Change. On launch day, the energy and buzz at the drop-in, I'll admit, was unexpected. Our volunteers were amazing. When Des spoke at the evening event, I wasn't alone in tearing up. The warmth and good feeling that we are part of something that's lovely and important was shared by everyone.Tamsin Hughes, Audio Producer
I was excited to see so many familiar faces joining the event at the CLR James Library. Doing outreach in the previous weeks has been worth it!Tiziana Silvestre, Creative Connections Programme Coordinator
The Indie Project
Earlier in December, our SEND 18+ group, The Indie Project, developed their own performance, set in an East End pub, exploring themes of poverty and employment.
I have lots of highlights for this year., but my best one would probably be the Indie Project that I've been leading with Charmain. The project was given a bit of pilot funding from Hackney Council. We had recognised that there was a gap of provisions for the post 25 SEND community. We have since welcomed old participants back, guest speakers from Hackney Council, Hackney Health Watch and Homerton Hospital. Participants have consulted with the NHS about the processes of patient care and educated audiences about disability hate crime. The best part of the day is lunch, which we all enjoy as a weekly event.Gavin Dent, EbYT Coordinator
It was a strong performance developed from improvisations where the plot derived from each character choosing their own job. The perk of the project was the humour that was included not only in the final performance but also throughout the project.Charmain Humphrey, Participation Manager
The group also went on a couple of trips where they were able to take part in a workshop with GRAEAE company, which Immediate Theatre have worked with previously in partnership.
Also in December, our youth theatre group Interactions performed an updated version of Pinocchio, involving themes of homelessness, leaving home, peer pressure and gang affiliation.
The group created large paper puppets and learnt the mechanics of them and how to insert them in a performance, by following a few masterclass techniques inspired by the National Youth Theatre's online seminars. They also developed scenes that included how as actors they can interact with a puppet on stage. Young people also expressed themselves through group discussions and really brought the adaptation of Pinocchio to life, conveying strong messages about making the right choices and not getting influenced in a negative way.Charmain Humphrey, Participation Manager
Having only recently joined Immediate Theatre, I have found myself jumping straight in and enjoying my start here. The team are great and developing fantastic work, especially the recent Youth Theatre performances of Pinocchio which saw the young people fully immerse themselves into the creative world.James Creighton-Goode, Administrator
We would like to thank everyone who has supported Immediate Theatre’s work in 2023. We continue to be amazed by the talent in our community and touched by people’s willingness to get involved with our work. We look forward to what 2024 has to bring for us all.
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