A Hackney youth theatre charity attracted over 70 people for a Christmas performance of Hansel and Gretel with a serious message behind it.
Children from the Kingsmead estate worked with Immediate Theatre to put on the Christmas production, thanks to funding from Sanctuary Housing, which retold the classic fairy tale while addressing themes of homelessness and food poverty.
The group’s performance was the climax to their 2016 calendar of events, including a picnic in the park, with other funders including Children in Need, Hackney Speakers’ Charity and the London Borough of Hackney.
Eighteen young people took part in the production, taking on the roles of woodcutters, witches, children and a narrator, which they had been working on with staff from Immediate Theatre since September.
Following the performance, families present celebrated with a Christmas party and reflected on a speech from performers Anat Oronsolu and Kacey Taylor about food poverty and how it affects young people in the UK.
The charity provides community-based drama provision for children and young people to help them develop skills, confidence and a sense of community.
Immediate Theatre director Jo Carter said: “We’ve seen some great passion from young people on the subject matter of Hansel and Gretel; their journey on this production and others over the past year since we started the youth theatre has been amazing.
“We really want parents to remain involved in the project and come forward with ideas and suggestions. Immediate Theatre has secured funding for three more years to continue sessions and we want to give parents the skills and confidence to carry on sessions after this point.”
Sophie Lejeune-Peggie, Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, added: “It’s been great to see Immediate Theatre working with our young residents and this Christmas performance was a fantastic showcase of their talents while carrying a serious message.
“Community-led programmes such as this help us to address the needs of our customers, bring communities together and reach out to our local parents and families.”
Immediate Theatre is funded by Sanctuary’s Community Investment Fund, which supports projects benefiting Sanctuary residents and their communities.
Weekly sessions at Immediate Theatre will start again in Kingsmead Community Centre on Tuesday 10 January, with a group for five to eight-year-olds (Years One to Three) taking place from 3.45pm to 4.45pm, and a group for eight to 13-year-olds (Years Four to Eight) taking place from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
A group for parents and younger siblings including cookery will also run every Wednesday, starting from 10 January, from 3.45pm to 4.45pm with a hot meal shared with all participants.
For more information on how to get involved with Immediate Theatre, contact Charmain Humphrey on 020 7682 3031.