Ebb & Flood

St. Leondard's Church, Shoreditch

November 2017

Ebb & Flood was the first piece in the resilience trilogy. It explored the rhythm of flow: waves, impact, motion, response, undertow, and return. We drew on the German translation of the word Resilience Elastizität - Elasticity.

The piece was seen as a commentary, and exploration, of the way we live in our time. We live the interplay between power and vulnerability, a dance of the weak and the strong. Every action is met by an equal and opposite reaction. Each event generates an even stronger backlash. Turns in unexpected and different directions cascade and ricochet, pulled and pushed by random elasticity. All around is surprise, unpredictability, shock.

The piece purposefully sought to evoke emotions, provoke thought, and immerse the audience in the creative elasticity, and inexorable Ebb and Flow of our own lives outside of the performance space.

St. Leonard's Church

Situated in East London, St. Leonard's Church is dedicated to St Leonard, the patron saint of prisoners and those who are mentally ill. There has been a church on the site for many centuries.

The site became the actors’ church. The nearby New Inn Yard hosted the initial performances of several of Shakespeare’s plays. Many of the Elizabethan theatrical fraternity are buried in the medieval church under the crypt. This includes three Burbages: James Burbage who built the first English theatre; his son, Cuthbert who built the Globe theatre; and his other son, Richard, who was the first to play Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard 3rd, Othello, and Romeo. So the first Romeo is buried in the crypt where Shakespeare placed the final scene of his tragic play.

The church has always been committed to its community, particularly those who live on the streets that often have difficulties with alcohol or substance abuse. The church built Acorn House, an 18 bed alcohol rehabilitation centre which is run by the Spitalfields Crypt Trust.

The project is inspired by the approach of the church, and its many chartiable connections - as well as the rich history of the East End. St Leonard’s, its features and architecture, its history and tradition is deeply rooted in the area. This protective and welcoming space serves as a starting point for the project and was an integral part of the creative process and ultimate performance.

Foundation for Change

Ebb & flood was created collaboratively alongside the registered charity Foundation for Change. FfC work for social change through education. The founders, Bob Bharij and Liz Naylor, have worked together since 2005 and set up FfC in 2014. They now have a small team of staff and volunteers based in St Leonard’s church. The aim of FfC is to provide a sophisticated response to the complexity of disadvantage, tackling social exclusion and enabling people who have experienced significant difficulties with drugs or alcohol to participate in society.

Through their programmes, they help those they work with to consciously choose how they want to live, be it in relation to being a better parent, family member or partner, volunteering, or gaining employment and achieving financial independence. The majority of their courses are accompanied by accredited qualifications and include the option of volunteer placements which significantly boost the chances of achieving employment, thereby helping to break the often inter-generational cycles of substance misuse and support social participation.

FfC bring a creative and much needed new approach to tackling disadvantage. Summer 2017 saw the first of a Big Lottery funded intake of their new Feminism for Change course – a female only programme that introduced key concepts of feminist theory through which participants were supported to view their lives. Autumn 2017 saw the launch of Clothing for Change (CfC) led by Bex Exell, a graduate of two of FfC’s courses. A trained tailor, Bex is selling her designs online under the Clothing for Change label, the income generated going towards the CfC project itself. This will be a six-month intensive course in tailoring where individuals will learn to design, sew and create tailored pieces of clothing. It will also include a detailed introduction to setting up their own tailoring business for individuals who want to work towards self-employment.

FfC work in partnership with Spitalfields Crypt Trust, specifically the New Hanbury Project, delivering a 10 week introduction to psychology course to compliment the vocational courses they offer to those in recovery. Volunteers from the New Hanbury Project have re-landscaped the church gardens and tend to it daily, creating a wonderful haven away from the bustling Shoreditch High Street. The church grounds also include an allotment where volunteers in recovery from drug/alcohol dependency grow vegetables that are eaten in Acorn House.

Credits and Thanks

Alongside the collaboration between Maika Klaukien (artistic director and choreographer) and Church staff, Ebb & Flood was created with the work of Michael Haslam, Composer (Director of Music at St. James Church, Piccadilly); Trimmer, saxophonist; Jonathan Samuels, lighting designer; Oana Stanciu, projection artist; Osca Whiting, designer; and eight performers.