Memory is performed every day and in different ways within the space of the Museum. Ex-resident storytellers, both scheduled and spontaneous; nostalgic trips down memory lane through music and singing; the various ways of memory mapping and oral history interviews – these are some of the main performative pathways that form part of the Museum’s day.
The Reminiscence Theatre project aims to programme and reflect on these practices in a more structured way. Having said that, we will exercise caution in doing this as some of the power and uniqueness of the ex-residents’ ‘performance of memory’ is located in their very spontaneity. Our intention is not to curtail that, but rather to support and extend these performances so that a broader range of people can be involved in their interactive power.
The project is premised on an understanding that memory is a dynamic rather than static entity which is stimulated through a process of performative dialogue. It aims to produce theatre works which draw on the lives of the people of the area, particularly those returning. It is linked to, but not wholly driven by, the development of a performance space within the renovated Sacks Futeran building which will be used by a number of partners involved in creatively interpreting the many facets of memory, forced removals and return through drama, music, dance, poetry and script-writing.
This is an innovative project that aims to draw on oral histories of the elderly together with a process of creative interpretation during which stage productions will promote conversations with new audiences and across generations. As with other elements of the broader project, intergenerational conversations will form an important part of Reminiscence Theatre and it is envisaged that young people in conversation with the elders, will be involved in creative workshops. Innovative products and projects will emerge from these which will form the basis of various performances.
Nomvuyo’s Room in the Museum will provide one of the platforms from which to launch a production of Nomvuyo’s story as a key outcome of a later phase of the project. Further funding will be needed to develop the actual staging of this theatre piece. Interpretations of the memory and legacy of slavery is another strand which will be developed, and which will be linked to the December festival output of the Reimagining Carnival project. This will not be a formal theatre production as such, but it will involve theatrical elements in the making.
The Museum’s first formal collaboration around theatre was with the Magnet Theatre’s critically acclaimed Onnestebo production and this precedent will be drawn on in developing the next phases. More so than with the Music and Carnival segments, the Reminiscence Theatre project requires a much more intense research programme which needs to precede and dovetail with the