Walking through Hackney Wick you can see that the area is at a crucial turning point, with new residential developments rising up at rapid speed next to Victorian warehouses, artists studios and industrial spaces.
In an effort to document this important moment, The Yard Theatre have teamed up with community storytelling company take stock exchange for two one-off performances this Saturday, under the name You, Me, The World and Hackney Wick.
The performances will tell the stories of Hackney Wick’s residents, artists and workers following a series of conversations over the past few months across Hackney Wick and Fish Island.
Katherine Igoe-Ewer, a producer at The Yard Theatre, said:
“We identified that there are such varied, but solid and robust communities living in the area but that dialogue between elements of the community often felt really limited.”
At a time of such rapid change in the area, it felt important to bring people together to share their thoughts.”
The project came about after The Yard Theatre took over management of community centre Hub 67 nearly two years ago and began looking for the right project to connect the different voices across the community.
Over the course of several months The Yard and take stock exchange spoke to hundreds of local people including teenagers from local schools, elderly people at the bingo hall, artists living in warehouses and representatives from the London Legacy Development Corporation.
“They all see the area is changing and they all have something different to say but one thing none of them can deny is that the change is big and is going to affect everyone”, said Katherine.
“Some see this as an opportunity, some see it as a natural process, some deeply resent these changes and some have said they will fight what they see as unfairness that is at the heart of this change.”
Since the area began its regeneration drive, many residents have rallied against the demolition and redevelopment of industrial and creative workspace.
One of the most prominent campaigns has attempted to save Vittoria Wharf from demolition to make way for two new bridges connecting Hackney Wick to Fish Island. The Wharf was home to and provided workspace for many artists, writers and makers who have now been evicted.
Evidence of these campaigns is clear to see with #SaveHackneyWick posters plastered on walls across the area.
Twenty stories from Hackney Wick residents with differing opinions about these changes will be anonymised and re-told by Nick Cassenbaum and Olly Hawes from take stock exchange as part of the performances.
Katherine said that this format “allows people to speak more freely about their views”.
“It also creates a democracy in the storytelling that we hope further creates empathy among our listeners”, she added.
“We are aiming to bring people together in the spirit of understanding and pride in this area. Through the stories we share we hope to progress the conversation about what is happening to Hackney Wick in a positive way.”
The two performances this Saturday will follow a free community meal at the theatre – all are welcome. Free tickets for the evening performance are now sold out but there are still a few tickets available for the matinee. To book, visit this page on The Yard’s website.