Daedalus October Newsletter

Dear friends,

Welcome to our October newsletter.

Ten Years East – tickets now on sale!

Join us for a relaxed evening of compelling stories and unforgettable songs from across the diverse cultures of East London.

Ten Years East is a celebration of love as a language that crosses borders and breaks boundaries, that remembers lost homelands and dreams of new frontiers. After a decade of performances, workshops and gatherings, the East storytelling project now presents an exciting lineup of musicians and storytellers in this family-friendly event.

With material spanning the globe to reflect the rich cultures of our East End, from English folklore to Bengali tales and Jewish songs, you are warmly welcomed to celebrate Ten Years East.

Please also look out for the rest of the Season of Bangla Drama programme, which is packed with dance, drama and more. Here’s the trailer:

The East Storytelling Project – how it started.

As we approach East‘s tenth birthday, it’s worth reflecting on how it started and why it grew into what it is today. Initially, it was a part of SPOKE, a programme of spoken word and storytelling in the Olympic boroughs. Through this, with the support of SPOKE partner Apples and Snakes, we received funding from the London Legacy Development Corporation to run a programme introducing people to storytelling.

Daedalus’s artistic director, Paul Burgess, had previously worked with Shamim Azad on Slice: London-Lahore. He’d also met Sef Townsend via mutual friends and was looking for a way to bring these two amazing storytellers together. East provided that opportunity.

The final piece in the jigsaw came from Rich Mix, which provided the space, and we held a series of workshops culminating with a public performance. Somehow, everything had come together.

The first generation of new storytellers were mainly Bengali and Jewish, although other heritages represented included Korean-Swedish. They were initially given the challenge of learning stories from each other. This idea of exchange – of learning and telling or singing each other’s stories and songs has become central to East‘s ethos. Another core aspect of the project that was present from the start was the mix of traditional tales and real-life, autobiographical stories, generally focusing on migration and cultural identity.

But a plot twist was in store: after the show at Rich Mix, no one wanted to say goodbye. East had been conceived as a short, one-off community programme. Now it metamorphosed into a long-term project and, most importantly, it had become a community.

Images from ten years of East – including photos by Rehan Jamil and Simon Daw.

Over the years, as can be seen in the above montage of performances and workshops, East has worked with an ever-changing and diverse range of people, often meeting to share stories and songs over food. We’ve created an online collection of our stories and songs, East Archive. We’ve partnered with Bishwo Shahitto Kendro, Numbi Arts and the Community of Refugees from Vietnam. We’ve run workshops for kids. We’ve performed at A Season of Bangla Drama. During COVID-19, we offered online coaching for first-time storytellers. We’ve also worked with BSL, including filming with BSL storyteller and consultant Deepa Shastri. A spinoff project, East3, has seen Shamim, Sef and Paul performing at festivals in Victoria Park, the Boishaki Mela, and Bow Arts.

Now, almost a decade on, it feels absolutely right to return to Rich Mix for this year’s A Season of Bangla Drama, with performances from some of the longest-standing members of the East community alongside some of the newest.

We hope to see you there!

We rely on donations to keep going. We receive no core funding and do a lot of unpaid work to keep things going and raise money between projects. Please consider making a one-off or a monthly donation.

Even a small donation makes a difference, and regular small donations would give us the security we don’t currently have.

Kind regards,

The Daedalus team

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