Tales of Cross Purposes

Picture from Peterborough Evening Telegraph

I had the privilege of visiting the Ormiston Bushfields Academy in Peterborough last week – not only to see Eastern Angles Crossed Keys perform in the schools well equipped drama space (for reviews of #CrossedKeys see here and here) but also to see the @EasternAngles latest education project CROSS PURPOSES in action.

(Two elders await the performance of #CrossedKeys at Bushfields Academy)

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph (@peterboroughnet) ran a great article about the project which explains it all far better than I could – you can read that article here.

On the day I visited the project I took part in a discussion – facilitated by one of our actors @aidandooley – between the young people of Bushfields and about 8 elders. In our group the conversation with Esther, Pat and Mariam flowed –

Not all the stories were pleasant. Esther could vividly remember as an 8 year old discovering a man hanging from a tree in a near by field. ‘I can still see his face’ – she said – ‘just there, where you are – just hanging’. Mariam told us how in those days there was never any worry about getting a job – a sharp contrast to today with unemployment at its highest for the last seventeen years . You could leave one job Friday she said and start another the following Monday. Pat told us about how her husband worked in one of Peterborough’s brick factories.

(Young people from Bushfields and the elders in discussion after the performance)

But it was Esther who was difficult to stop. She told us how she’d blagged her way into seeing all the westerns at her local cinema – and it was there where she had met her one true love when he pulled her hair (who said chat up lines weren’t what they used to be). Later they’d marry on a Friday – why a Friday the young people asked – he’d absconded from the army she replied – he was arrested the following Sunday. Perhaps we could encourage Esther to discover twitter? Maybe she tweets already??

Of course the war dominated the discussion. Tales of working for the land army, of Anderson shelters and hiding under the stairs. Of walking the streets after a bombing raid…

…but for me the most moving tale was when Mariam took me aside after the chat and told me about her Pakistani friend – who like Shahruk in #CrossedKeys – was forced to flee her family and friends because of the views and opinions of a family member. She lost contact for over twenty years as the girl went into hiding in Leicester.

Its these stories that writers Mark Grist and Nick Wood together with the young people will be will be turning into scripts / structures and eventually performances. I don’t envy them the task – as Nick Wood tweeted ‘I wish I had more room for the memories’

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with the project – which continues until the end of November – then make sure you follow @jumpeduptheatre (otherwise known as Kate Hall) and fellow collaborators Mark Grist (@montygristo) and Nick Wood (@nickwood39)


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