Lucille Findlay is the Creative Producer for Small Truth’s Our Voices project.
At its heart, Small Truth Theatre’s Caravan Theatre is a micro theatre boasting an incredible team of creative associates. Nicola Chang, Emma Dennis Edwards and Abi Zakarian are a living, breathing presence in the work the theatre produces. Yasmeen Arden, the Artistic Director behind the company, has a creative vision of bringing free world-class theatre to the streets of London. It’s an ambitious and altruistic view, which at its heart cries” Let them eat cake!” I have seen first-hand her dedication to making great theatre and more than that, ensuring a supportive and nurturing creative space for all who cross the Caravan Theatre door. Yes, the feelings behind great art can be painful, but making great theatre does not need to be a painful process (as the patriarchy once had us believe)/ Life inevitably does the anguish for us, so why make it harder?
When Yasmeen approached me at the beginning of the year I was both excited and apprehensive. We wanted to offer something empowering and healing to the young community but knew first-hand, the trauma, grief and anger that is still ever present in the hearts and homes of North Kensington since the Grenfell tragedy: we are a part of this community ourselves. Our mission is not only to find hope and joy with the children and offer a space to be heard, but to also create real industry opportunities for young people who are interested in a career in the arts.
Following live onsite shows in school playgrounds and youth clubs the Our Voices project commissioned writers Abi Zakarian, Tanya Loretta Dee, Lilly Driscoll and Emma Dennis Edwards to lead workshops with children to inspire an outcome piece. Poems were written as ideas and characters began to come to life. Recording sessions in the Caravan captured themes of friendship and family as well as young adults examining what they described as an education system that can feel outdated and non-inclusive. Their voices are political and powerful.
Earlier this week we went back to the schools to share the podcasts with the children. Giggles of excitement wriggled from the carpet as they listened attentively, recognising their own voices, eyes wide and full of pride that their ideas had become the story. For now the project has come full circle and, until we return next year, it’s made me reflect on the Our Voices adventures and, indeed, my own personal journey this year. After a difficult few years, hope seemed pointless. Working with the kids of North Kensington has restored my belief that change is not only possible, but I believe that these young people, despite what they have lived through, will push it through like titans. These young people have a lot to say and it’s essential that we listen to them.