Do you know the Urdu word for story? No? Well, look it up. Okay, this might prove a bit tricky, so let me suggest an easier route: buy a ticket to participate in We Are Shadows: Brick Lane, an immersive and site-specific tour of Brick Lane in East London. This is a joint digital project run by Coney and Tamasha, in collaboration with Rightful Place theatre company, supported by Rich Mix. Phew. It’s written by Fin Kennedy and Rabiah Hussain, who encourage us to explore the area, summoning up the shadows of past inhabitants and to listen to their stories. All you need is a smart phone and some tech savvy, and hey presto there you are, standing in the street, gazing at buildings that have transformed themselves over centuries and decades, and following prompts to reach a multitude of narratives that bring the area alive.
Although I have visited Brick Lane a number of times over the years, much of this was refreshingly new to me, and the adventure was a delightful experience. There is something very moving about the idea of so many previous generations walking around the same place, which is infused with their experiences, good, bad and everyday. We Are Shadows: Brick Lane is performed digitally by Tamasha artist Afsana Begum, with help from community theatre company Rightful Place–all locals. Directed by Sita Thomas, with excellent creative input from interactive dramaturg Tassos Stevens of Coney, this is an insightful and fascinating journey of exploration. You will find out a host of things: what the message on a sundial attached high on the wall of the Jamme Masjid mosque means, the best place to eat, and tales of radical activists. It is also an impassioned way of moving around an urban landscape, an experience which heightens your senses and inspires you to follow your own adventure. Soon after finishing the Tamasha tour, we stumbled on a Spitalfields cul-de-sac full of dark mystery, and the site of the house where Methodist John Wesley’s mother, Susanna Wesley, was born in 1669. Atmospheric vibrations abound.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.