Yesterday, I attended a premiere screening at the BFI of a documentary of a project by Age Exchange, a charity which works in the field of reminiscence, running intergenerational projects to bring people and communities together.
Then in my second term at Central I chose to do a case study on the company for my module on Theatre and Social Exclusion, after attending a seminar on intergenerational practice, as part of 'Age to Age', the Lewisham Intergenerational Festival, and became further acquainted with the powerful impact of their work.
Yesterday, the documentary screened was of a project called The People's Story, a major intergenerational project working with the diverse communities of Enfield and Edmonton. This project spanned 18 months and was run in partnership with London and Quadrant Housing Trust, who manage lots of the social housing in the area and were keen to work on a project which promoted community cohesion. It was a fascinating documentary, by film maker Ivan Riches, and the event was made even more poignant by many participants from the project sitting in the audience, sharing in the enjoyment and excitement of the occasion, and the following Q&A with the directors, funders and participants.
The project had produced a great many products: a theatre piece, film, recorded interviews and visual art; however it felt important to hear at the end David Savill emphasising that the process (which had no doubt been a challenging, yet rewarding one) was far, far more important than the many products. Malcolm Jones, their arts and education co-ordinator, reiterated that their work was never a "smash and grab raid on older people's stories to make a product", but rather a process of mutual respect, trust and generosity.