We Are London (January – May 2017)

We Are London is a theatre project for young people aged 16-24, based at Ovalhouse Theatre in London. The group is a mix of young people with and without refugee and asylum seeking background. Through the medium of theatre, We Are London builds bridges between new young Londoners and those who are more established in the city.

The group was founded by artist Stella Barnes in 2005, who ran the project together with actor/director John Morales for 12 years. In 2017, Stella moved on from her role as Head of Participation at Ovalhouse and was replaced in We Are London by theatre director Angela Michaels.

Grace Holme joined the project in January 2017 as an assistant facilitator, whilst studying an MA in Applied Theatre at Goldsmiths, University of London. The theme of the project for that term’s performance was ‘Time’ and the group devised a production about a time-thief – by the name of Kim Kardashian – who steals time from other people’s lives in order to stay young forever. Grace performed in the piece onstage alongside the participants.

In a reflective presentation as part of her Masters degree, Grace spoke about utopia in relation to We Are London. Influenced by feminist theorist Angelika Bammer and theatre academic Jill Dolan, Grace conceptualised utopia not as a static place, but as an active approach towards a collective way of life. She explored the broader implications of We Are London’s artistic practice, both for the individuals involved, as well as on a societal and political level. In so doing, she touched on the radical, utopic aspect of Applied Theatre, in how – through the creation of kinder, more respectful artistic communities – reality is remoulded according to the ethics of the group. A place like London therefore is not a fixed experience that happens around and to us, but becomes an intersubjective process that we create together.