Land Of The Three Towers Vol.II
Written by Nina Scott and Emer Mary Morris and partially devised by the company
You should see the other guy
Maxilla Social Club, Silchester Estate
A show by this company is quite an event. It is being performed in the Maxilla Social Club beneath the Westway near the ruins of the Grenfell tower.
Someone surrounded by shelves of books is playing a piano outside the club. Towering above them on the wall of the Westway is a mural declaring “The Truth Will Not Be Hidden”.
The audience reflects the age and ethnic diversity of the area, and that suits the performers who are travelling with stories of how other housing estates have battled the so-called regeneration that threatens to purge London of the poor.
The show is a fast-paced mix of verbatim interview material, poetry, songs, dance and a good deal of upbeat humour.
Entry price is whatever a person can afford and we are welcomed with free drinks and snacks.
An opening poem quickly reminds us of the way those who run the housing system can inflict a terrible silence on people.
Ifrah Ismael says they try to “Crush us compact, Until we're just 1 cubic metre of shame, Until we're too afraid to open the following: newspapers, brown envelopes, front doors, fridge doors, curtains and, finally, mouths.”
Structured as a guide to resistance, the show takes the audience through a sequence from interactions with landlords and the council to the ways that eviction can be fought.
It also contrasts a typical regeneration plan from Lambeth with “The People’s Plan” (TPP) developed by the residents of architecturally well-regarded Cressingham Gardens.
Although the TPP seems to score higher on most criteria and avoids demolishing people’s homes, it crucially did not produce enough high market value houses and was rejected. The Lambeth plan produced 135 investment opportunities, compared to the TPP’s three.
The Mayor of Newham Council Robin Wales (Chisara Agor), in a comical big jacket and flanked by two sock puppets in suits, explains in Neo-Liberal speak, “we’ve come up with a new concept. The concept is resilience. The idea that we should support people to help themselves... (because) we need an income stream.”
The reality is the destruction of communities like the Carpenters estate in Newham.
Mutly (Redd Roche) speaks affectionately of the “great great times” living in Dennison Point for thirty years before he was evicted in 2014.
“Carpenters? It was known as the land of the three towers... cos no matter whether you are in the underground commin out of the tunnel or going back into it, it’s the first thing or the last thing you see.”
There are others we hear desperately trying to speak to the council, arguing with bailiffs, and reflecting on friends who have been moved on.
The show is always positive about the steps to resist and it is this along with the music and humour which gives it an uplifting feel.
Afterwards, I was told they had been “invited to perform at a housing occupation near Grenfell”.
I’m sure Theresa and Jeremy will be very welcome to join them.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna