East London In Flux

The thing with most community engagement activities is that the people who put on the show couldn’t care less if you’re there or not. Sometimes the engagement exercises target seniors: When they don’t then the senior wannabee participant is more than invisible. This I have known for ages and corporate engagers be wise that many oldies are on your case.

East London in Flux presented by Fundamental Architectural Inclusion d.o.b. 2003 is different to all of the above and valuable to the ethos of community engagement. It’s a programme delivered with passion. Its participants are encouraged to join in and given the confidence to do so. And the sandwiches are nutritious, full, tasty and textured.

Today the room in the University of Birkbeck in the new Stratford E15  (aka USS hosted by community outreach officer Patrice Buddington) was bursting and a-buzzin’. We came from Stratford, Hackney, Forest Gate, Leyton, Romford, Mauritius and other places north of Watford. Imagine!

As for architecure, I can’t get over the fact that the Uni building is built on one of the meanest pot-holed car-parks of back in the day. Those days when the stealthiest of creeping car-park attendants would sneak out of the shadows: Those times when the parking machine swallowed pound coins then failed to deliver the ticket. Those were the days when you left the theatre production or pre Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 pop-up workshops early so as not to fork out another load of coins.

The main attraction of this the first in a series of presentations and day-long workshops was the architect-guided walk around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Laid on were electric scooters, wheelchairs and taxis for the less mobile. The sun shone too. The morning session was all about how architects used any available terrain to construct the Olympic cities. Hitler’s Games came out top in the we- did- it poll not only because the construction/ideological team used media to the hilt when the concept of media as a corporate entity was not invented yet. Even the athletes’ village was great….bungalows. Ooh! give me one.

The heart-warming bit is how junior school kiddies are involved through Architectural in learning through model-making and discussion their role in the Legacy of the London 2012 Games.

Twas brillig.

Theatre Royal Stratford east

Without prejudice

Tonight I went along in the rain to join the free event for which I’d booked: This was David Bailey (where have you been for the last 50 years? Oh you were born in east London? Oh, that explains the revised interest) in conversation with the respected Tim Marlow.

At 6.30pm the queue was massive stretching up the entry hall of Stratford Theatre right into the bar and doubling up on itself. Disgraceful. Customers in the bar area had to eat their meals with us hanging over them and table attendants were harassed to the extreme. I certainly wasn’t feeling special on a special night out. The queue, made up of mostly white 50+ somethings, moved at snail pace as each ticket holder was ticked off one by one. Antiquated. What happened to pulses and bar-codes?

The Mayor of Newham , Mr Wales, welcomed us and introduced The Ideas Olympiad, a partnership between TRSE (Theatre Royal ) and Newham Council as a strategy to get youth interested and involved in the arts in Newham. Good luck with that.

On came  Bailey aka David Bailey, the most famous photographer in the world.(Really?) Tim and he sat far apart on uncomfortable looking low sofas.

From the first swear word the conversation was pointing downwards, slipping into mire. Bailey said every filthy word except cu*t tonight and here was a project to encourage youth to be part of the arts scene. It was absolutely awful. Tim Marlow held it all together despite obvious squirming. It was awful. Bailey was crude and pompous, arrogant and useless. There was nothing much about his skills and how he could show another generation the worth of filming except to say about the joys of filming porno. We heard about his erections and masturbation, fornicating and lusting , his East Ham schooldays, his love of Warhol, his disdain for Dali, his commissions and experiences with celebs. But those stories were his past glories and a missed opportunity to tell us about the thrust of 60s London.  Perhaps Tim should have manipulated the converstion more. He tried to keep a modicum of class and cultural intellectualism  but Bailey needed to be watched and contained.

If kids were on stage talking badly like Bailey the curtain would have come down. The difference is that millionaires can speak how they like without respect for themselves, their conversation partner or their life-long fans.

This should have been a rehearsed converstion so that Marlow could have a real chance to elicit information for those of us in the auditorium who realised they were intruders at someone else’s party. It could have been edited and shown with some photos on the wasted screen on the stage.

Bailey touched on his despising of “conceptual shit”. Good to make money out of it though and anyway explain what conceptual shit is!  A whole industry in photography is built on the analysing of conceptual imagery.

You know what Bailey? Your arrogance was showing like it did years ago. You exude the stuff,

TRSE you failed big time tonight. You should have done your homework on the guy. Not every son of the east is its ambassador.

I was surprised that Bailey loves change. He has views on digital cameras: However  taking snaps and getting immediate results isn’t in Bailey’s opinion  the essence of filming people and places. You have to have a connection .

Spotted Melvin Murray in the audience looking stoical I’d say.

Bid hoo ha in Westfield at 9.30pm as a thief was thrown to the ground by security. Eh, the tourists have much to photograph. All the shops are flogging off old stock ready for August Autumn stock which will be at special Olympic prices, I’ll be bound.  Still Westfield was never for the real Stratford people.

Issue 6. less than a month to go to The Olympics and Paralympics Games.

Thursday June  28th    £5 Phone 08442485136    for fiver tickets to The Olympic Park in first week of Games. Phone lines open until 6th July First come first served. Pay with VISA only. Postage is £6.

free (not confirmed) noon-7pm (Thurs to Sat) Tokarska Gallery 163 Forest Rd E17. Kate Green’s photographic exhibition showcasing 1948 Olympics.

£10  Greek Theatre E17 back of Walthamstow Girls School E17 until 30th June. “Richard 111” Annual open air performance by The Greek Players. Inside if it rains.

Sat  30th June   10-noon Mary Katherine Presents on StreetlifeRadio from Waltham forest College. Golden oldies, modern hits and silver sounds “Lifting yourself up to good living”.

£3  1-5pm. Interview and film course for archives in Rivington Place (second Saturday) all about the changes the Olympics brings. Book on 02077299616 with INIVA.

Sun 1st July  free. 2pm Support the British Cyclist Sky ride n Haringey.Leaves Finsbury Park at 2pm and goes to Bruce Castle and back.

Tues  July  3rd  free    6pm  Canary Wharf  at 1, Churchill Place. NME’s  Pat  Long talks about his years at NME.

free SOFT at the Mill e17. Exhibition of textiles. RAGWORKS features.

Thursday  July 5th   £2  6-8.30pm  Book for workshop on scripts  “Understanding Text” with Theatre Royal Stratford’s Jan Starkey-Dodds. Recommended.

Fri         July 6th   free 6pm  Party to mark the glorious end of Openstage 2012. TRSE Phone to book if you belong to OpenStage on 02082791100

Available now. A Taste Of Hackney free App

Coming soon  Rio Cinema free film, free David Bailey talk at TRSE, free Ruskin’s Legacy talk with “News From Nowhere ” club E17/E11,  Mapping Your Manor Walk 11, Rosetta Arts course with Birkbeck Uni.

lifted spirit

The different colours of leaves on the ancient trees in the grounds of The Bakers’ Almshouses at Bakers’ Arms, Leyton, are just breathtaking. In the newly-opened  gym next door,  the muscle-men eat take -away kebabs on bar stools.  I noticed a phone shop by Leslie Road, E10 has two massage chairs for public use. Could be men only: I shall investigate,

St John’s Church, Chingford Road is a nice hub of community activities. At a networking event there, I met great people, artists, jewellery-makers,craftswomen, public speakers. ironers of shirts,  alternative therapists, and all passionate about their trades. Cameron would be chuffed to see a portion of The Big Society on the border of Walthamstow and Chingford.

Hardly any churches in Waltham Forest are ugly; there are one or two. I enjoyed my walk-around to check the steeple and doors. More interesting to me was a beautiful old building in Brookscroft Road housing  BT. It was behind a truly ugly new-build on the main road. Like to know what’s there. Currently there are decisions being made by the people in Waltham Forest about which buildings should be listed as of special note etc.  Mammoth task.

It was a typical grey November, rain -threatening morning but my spirit was high and continued so into the evening when it was time for Stratford East Singers’ session with Byron Gold at Theatre Royal Stratford east. Before I went there I went up in the Stratford Picture House for a cuppa hot chocolate £2. Amazing view across Westfield E20. By 5.30pm, the evening was fully black so Westfield was in HD Technicolor. Just beautiful, another city altogether. Imagine  ole Stratford got that! And Justin Bieber was in da house too!!

A Clockwork Orange followed by The Glazz

The musical version at Stratford east Theatre Royal. Where was I?  Not through the front door, that’s for sure! Loved the set; all red bits and angular, no softness. As soon as the beat sounded for the opening scene I loved it all for the music.

However let me think and remember. First off, what’s that with the theatre attendants sitting by the side of the open stage in the shadows with their miserable faces? They were there to attend to any spectators who needed to escape cos once you’re in you’re in. Offbloominputting. Bored miserable fizzogs do nothing for me when I want to get a positive vibe from a look-alike sixth-form production.

There was no flow. Everytime there was a slight off balance pause by the actors we figured a song was coming on. Ugh. And the songs came without panache. The ginger crim,  Alex,  and Pandora all had strong lyrical voices .

The characters representing white authority, the doctor and the minister, and then the quasi-Buddhist plenny were given pseudo posh accents which were stupidly exaggerated and often lost. The ‘pigs’, the millicents, the shlems were stereotypes too: Sus-Law advocates galore,mocking, sadistic and sarky.

Often the lights or the actors seemed to be off cue.

Looking to be positive, I told myself to go for symbol -searching. Uh Huh… Big orange spotlight on stage intentionally an orange? Who would have known? During one scene there was a flood of orange light. Ah drama.

Alex commits suicide. Cut? Nope the play continued to a yawning audience kept awake by the hysterical mother’s poetical, grief-stricken barrage of insults to Alex’s real mother, the street.

There was  a glaring detour from the book’s essence of pack-language; made-up words to exclude parents and authority from the forming world of growing adolescents. Alex was not consistently scary.

A tedious drama, truncated, clever. Take out the four crims and cast them in a remake of “West Side Story” where they can dance, sing and blossom.

The Thames Festival was dobby. A champagne flight on the London Eye soon lifted my spirits and for the first time in ages I slooshed English spekes and viddied choodessny sights.

why wouldn’t you?

Open Weekend, Saturday 23 July

Get backstage and discover more about Theatre Royal Stratford East… Open Stage volunteers will be leading free, fun tours of the building at 2.15 and 3.15pm. Tours last around 45 minutes and places are limited, so please call 020 8534 0310 to book.


SHEDspace, Sunday 24 July

Theatre Royal Stratford East is part of Shedspace – a FREE festival of art, fashion, food, music and more taking place all over Stratford this Sunday. We’ll be hosting the Open Stage Shed – on the stage! Come and tell us what you on stage in 2012, try on costumes, play with props and find out what the Theatre’s up to – plus free refreshments! No booking necessary.

Holden Point

one of the other residential towers in Stratford

Last week I grabbed a ticket for Newham residents to view the Olympic and Paralympic Games  site from the heights of Holden Point in Waddington Street, all part of Newham Fun Day. From the start, Steve, the security, at the sheltered housing, welcomed us 20 people including kiddies very well with a beaming smile. Don’t it make a difference? (Been to Hackney Museum lately?). We took the lift up 21 floors and then the steps to the roof. I guess a wheelchair would be lifted over the steps. It’s all built in properly, like a portacabin to me, and the Queen’s been there too! The wind was just howling through the open window so I shut it!

 Jean J, was our volunteer guide and she was absolutely brilliant; clear, slick, professional and knowledgeable. Newham is just on the case all the time promoting and doing all it can for one of the most deprived boroughs ever. Only now billions is being granted to Canning Town and Custom House to clean up their acts, two extremely deprived areas. Makes you wonder why no-one cared before.

Whatever is said about legacy, it’s still the fact that the Site will be E20 so it won’t smack of the connotations of Stratford as it was. Stratford as we know and avoid it ,in most cases, is E15. Me? I love Stratford. I’m always shocked when people in Leyton haven’t been there and as for those types up in Walthamstow, well!  There are markets and shops everywhere but Stratford has  The Theatre Royal called TRSE, The Picture House and Stratford Circus besides eateries. Connections to everywhere by public transport are very good and hopefully sense will prevail and the Eurostar will let passengers on and off at Stratford International. The German Rail lot want a bit of the action so it will happen..

The best part of the day was coming home to a cup of tea though. No energy to get to Spitalfields for the weaver’s house at 19 Princelet St. Next opportunity will do.