Youth theatre to celebrate delayed 30th birthday with virtual showcase

Getting ready to time leap 30 years at Half Moon youth theatre

Getting ready to time leap 30 years at Half Moon youth theatre - Credit: Half Moon

Youngsters in the East End are set to celebrate a theatre's 30th anniversary by time travelling back three decades.

Half Moon is celebrating the milestone as a youth theatre with the premiere of 1990-2020, a show that was delayed a year by the Covid emergency. 

Recreating 1990's poll tax riot for Half Moon youth theatre's 30th anniversary

Recreating 1990's poll tax riot for Half Moon youth theatre's 30th anniversary - Credit: Half Moon

“Covid may have made it a year late,” Half Moon’s director Chris Elwell observed.

“But we have been able to mark our 30th birthday with a virtual showcase of our history as a young people’s theatre and their creative resilience, exploring world events and the arts.” 

Remember Canary Wharf 3 and 4 decades ago? Half Moon youth theatre goes back in time to see it...

Remember Canary Wharf 3 and 4 decades ago? Half Moon youth theatre goes back in time to see it... - Credit: Half Moon

The 1990-2020 Virtual Showcase in three parts includes Snapped 1990-2020, exploring 30 years of east London’s history through photos taken in 1990 when Canary Wharf was still being built up in its infancy, alongside pictures of the same locations three decades on.   

Canary Wharf today... snapped by Half Moon youth theatre members

Canary Wharf today... snapped by Half Moon youth theatre members - Credit: Half Moon


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The other parts are Born 1990, which includes interviews with people working in the East End celebrating their 30th birthday in 2020, and Happened 1990, which is performances about world events that year such as the poll tax rioting against the Thatcher government.  

One hundred youngsters aged eight to 18 from the five Half Moon youth groups at Limehouse, who are learning how to research and get skills in interviewing and photography, are involved.  

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They will attend hands-on sessions at Tower Hamlets local history archives in Mile End, photography workshops at Bethnal Green’s Four Corners studios and learning interview techniques in sessions with filmmaker Justin Allder.    

People they interviewed for Born 1990 were schoolteacher Katy Jewell at Poplar’s Mayflower Primary, volunteer coordinator Sabiha Khanam at Poplar Harca housing, heritage officer Halima Khanom at Tower Hamlets local history library, development manager Alex Portlock at Hadley Property Group, actor and sign language performer Tom Simper at Half Moon itself, heritage officer Claire Slack at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and personal trainer Ryan Thomas at PureGym in Canary Wharf.

Snap happy... Half Moon youth theatre members out and about getting images of how the East End has changed in 30 years. 

Snap happy... Half Moon youth theatre members out and about getting images of how the East End has changed in 30 years. - Credit: Half Moon

The Thursday night premiere is at 6pm on July 8 on the Half Moon Theatre website. The film is also being made available online after the screening.    

Half Moon's name originates from the Alie Street theatre workshop set up in a disused synagogue in Whitechapel in 1970, which later moved to Mile End. The name change was suggested in a theatre preview by a local newspaper reporter at the time.

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