The Thames Project

We are so happy that LDBS are continuing to fund this valuable project.  We are currently researching the lives of black sailors in 1811 to further develop our performance ‘The Sailor and the Mudlark’ which will be performed in schools in January and February. We began in October with a walking tour at the Museum of London Docklands: World Docks: untold stories – the lives of Black British seamen and their families.  We are also going to be redevising and redesigning to make the performance Covid safe.

We’re really excited to get started again.

In March 2020, we were nearing the end of last years project and were about to perform 13 devised children’s shows in 9 schools. All were postponed. By June we realised that with great disappointment that they weren’t going to happen. So we put our heads together and came up with ideas for honouring the children’s amazing work. Most of the schools we were working with have very low access to online learning so although initially we were really excited about making films of the performances this was not going to be accessible to most of the children. Instead, we made creative packs for each of the children which were sent out to the children’s homes. We honoured the stories in written form with images. We sent personal messages from the practitioners to  the children. We remembered fantastic moments from the workshops and came up with activities for the children to do at home. And the Thames team came together  by Zoom and worked it all out together. This is what some of the teachers said:

“Thank you – the packs both look amazing!”

“Thank you so much for all your support and guidance with the Thames Project. It was an amazing thing to be part of, despite not being able to see the end result. On a personal note, you treated my grandfather’s story with so much respect and appreciation – a massive thank you for it all :)”

We were engaged in February 2019 by the LDBS Academies Trust to run a creative project for all 14 Year 4 classes across the trust. Our brief was to build a project that was creative and nurturing. We decided on the theme of the river Thames and set to work to create a new piece of theatre and then run workshops with all of the classes towards their own performances.

Alison, Emily, Matt and Catherine devised and performed ‘The Sailor and the Mudlark’  We had our usual storytelling, songs, puppetry, sensory props (including a 5 metre multi-purpose Thames cloth) and audience participation.

Emily and Annette pulled out all the stops in their fantastic making. The children helped the mudlark with a dilemma about whether to let her cat join the sailor on board the ship.fullsizeoutput_1971Then we went back into all the schools and in each school one of our drama practitioners worked with the children during the term to create their own performances on a theme of their choice to do with the River Thames. IMG_2733The children worked on drama games, still images, story exploration, poem writing. choral speaking, thought tracking and song creation. They also had art workshops on shadow puppet lantern and banner making ImageDisplay-2Catherine and Alison led workshops and we also worked with some fantastic  practitioners: Bex Milner, Amie Taylor, Jools Voce, Vicki Hawkins, Lehni Lamide and Kate Hart.ImageDisplay-5

The project went so well LDBSLAT asked us to do it again.  Last year we welcomed performer and storyteller Paul Andrew to the role of the sailor and this year we are also welcoming a new workshop leader Tanya Muchanyuka.  Amie, Bex and Vicki Catherine and Alison make up the fantastic team. 

We’ve had some lovely feedback about the performance and the workshops:

“A compelling storyline and talented performers!”

“The children were captivated. They were so impressed”

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The children, teachers and practitioners have come up with some amazing themes over the 3 years:

Victorian girl sailors who dressed up as boys, pollution and keeping the river clean, Black Sailors in the 19th century, The Frost Fair, Mudlarks, the perspective of animals in the Thames, Protest and the river, the amazing tale of Colonel Blood. There was also an amazing story last year,  told to us by one of the teachers of her Grandfather who travelled from East Pakistan (he was 14 but pretended to be 21) all the way up the Thames to the East London Docks and his life in London. Inspired by the Black History tour, we are going to call this year’s project ‘Untold stories of the Thames’ We can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.