Winter jacket on in June, a pop by the Oxfam shop at Dalston Junction, then a bus ride into Hoxton, up to the uninteresting shouted about Hoxton Market to the unannounced Hoxton Hall. The audience was packed into the foyer for what was a truly intergenerational, multi-cultural, multi-media, well-staged, high standards’ show all about the layers of history on which each community’s generation builds.
It was stupendous, first class. The audience made up of all colours and ages was transported to the world of local streets. I was sent back to 1985 when community theatre was there, set in dumps of centres and refurbished theatre halls. The difference is that we moved on and are living and working, playing and dreaming together as one rather than a host and guest society. The charity shops sell shalwar kameezes, neighbours put out bread and chapattis for the birds and we all shop at Tesco. Now instead of observing each other , we share common ground. The same street Hamim walks on was walked on by Martha’s grandad. Violet’s bedroom is her sanctuary as is Samiya’s.
The show using backdrops, a live string section, recorded voices and correct lighting was tight from start to finish and was the glorious product of adult leaders’ hard work in the community. Funnily enough , the old Hoxton Theatre has giant wall mirrors which reflected the stage action so we in the audience could see things in stereo.
It had to be excellent. “Songlines” was part of the major Spitalfields Summer Music Festival, being watched by the world. There was even a detailed programme handed to each ticket-holder with all the words and each adult, teacher, child and musician, the cast of many, named. Brilliant.
It should have been in a bigger venue. Refreshments with posh cake was offered afterwards but actually the show was treat enough.
I purposely took the 394 bus, imagining stepping out into the hipster Broadway Market, before going on to The Centre For Better Health’s “Diaspora” art exhibition opposite Hackney Town Hall but I was saturated with the culture of the day, thank you.
Most memorable line ? “We are four generations; child, parents, grandparents and great grandparents”. Cool eh?