Nightingale estate’s Christmas panto unites older and younger residents

Actors from Nightingale perform Cindy Rella: Joe Hart

Residents of a crime and anti-social behaviour affected Hackney estate have collaborated with a community theatre company to create a Christmas pantomime for local people.

Immediate Theatre, which started in 1996, is an organisation that works with local communities to break barriers and create space for people to engage in debate using art activities.

The panto is a collaboration between Immediate Theatre and Arcola Over 50s Group programme, funded by Arts Council England and Hackney Council.

Immediate Theatre chose to collaborate with Nightingale, a residential estate close to Hackney Downs, whose residents have experienced problems like anti-social behaviour (ASB), knife crime and drug dealing.

Cindy Rella, inspired by the panto classic Cinderella, tells the story of a 63-year-old woman from Hackney Central. It’s the Hackney Citizen of the Year Award Ball and Cindy’s bossy sisters are determined to win – so while they attend the event, Cindy has to stay home to look after their Dad. Alas, in modern-day Hackney, age is no barrier for Cindy…

McGregor described the inspiration which led to Cindy Rella: “Inspiration comes from the citizens of Hackney where we have worked for over 21 years.

Cindy Rella represents all of these people, who work tirelessly to take care of the loved ones and their community never looking for thanks and rarely getting recognition.”

Fiona McGregor, a spokesperson from Immediate Theatre said: “The idea of Theatre Exchange is to fuse two strands of our work with different age groups, developing shared learning and creating stimulating inter-generational theatre for hard to reach audiences in community settings and schools in Hackney. We want to share the amazing things young people and older people can achieve.

The young people are sharing their end of year performance about myths and legends and the older people are performing Cindy Rella.”

The panto follows the successful knife crime focused “Our Space” project in October. Immediate Theatre also collaborated with professional street artists, including Tizerid with children aged 9-13 from Nightingale estate to create a graffiti mural.

Unity & Hope mural created by children Pic: Gregory Robinson

Councillor Sem Moema said: “In the last 12 months we’ve had a bit of an escalation of anti-social

Parrot mural by children Pic: Gregory Robinson

Immediate Theatre won a grant of £75,000 from the Home Office for theatre programmes to produce shows which aim to prevent hate crime, raise awareness and to respond to hate crime. The theatre company also collaborated with Access to Sport.

McGregor said: “We recognised the need to establish a safer environment for young people and to address residents’ sense of loss of community and concerns about theirs and their children’s safety.”

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