Participatory theatre was the first event of the day. The performers were not professional actors but rather a group of marginalised migrant mothers that participated in a ESRC funded project ‘ Participatory Arts and Social Action Research (http://fass.open.ac.uk/research/projects/pasar), 2016-18. This project explored how community activism and policy change is achieved through arts-based creative research. The migrant women, through dramatic performance, shared their personal stories of living under the policy No Recourse for Public Funding, and their personal (and often painful) experiences of social isolation and exclusion. Influenced by Forum Theatre approach and the work of Augusto Boal, as part of the performance, members of the audiences were invited to come up the stage in order to intervene in the story and re-enact the scenes presented. This allowed the audience members to offer alternative narratives, strategies and solutions in which to challenge and contest the dominant, and oftentimes stereotypical, narratives surrounding migrant women and their families who live in poverty and destitution.
In keeping with our inter-generational theme for the day, it was important that the event was inclusive and allowed a creative space for some of the youngest and oldest members of the community to share their stories. This was achieved by hosting a dance workshop for children and a community choir, involving older persons. Both of these sessions were particularly symbolic as they each in turn brought together into a shared community space the grandchildren (and great grandchildren of Windrush Generation (dance workshop, and many of these first generation migrants (choir).
Dance Workshop and performance:
Local dance company Greenwich Dance, showcased the performance of children (age 5 to 16 years) who belonged to this dance company. Children who attended on the day, and were not members of the dance company, were also invited to join in the dance workshop and performance. The workshop focused on children sharing their stories through the medium of dance, and they also learned a dance routine which they later performed to the audience. The African dance and drumming session that take took place later on in the day, led by Emmanuel Okine provided a further opportunity in which to bring the youngest and oldest community member together through dance.