We’d like to dedicate our storytelling to the memory of Ruby Hoque, one of the very first members of the East storytelling family. Ruby left us all too soon but is always present in our hearts and our memories, and as a treasured part of our creative community.

The Beginning

The East Archive is an online archive of stories and songs from people living in East London or linked to the area through work, family or history. Created through the East storytelling group, its contributors range from established arts professionals to people who’ve never told a story publicly before, and brings together a great range of cultural backgrounds, ages and experiences.

East started as a collaboration between two Tower Hamlets-based organisations: Daedalus Theatre Company, an artist development collective specialising in socially-engaged performance, and Bishwo Shahitto Kendro (BSK), a community arts group with a focus on Bangla literature. More recently, Somali arts and cultural group Numbi Arts has become a partner, and Rua Arts has joined to co-produce.

Artistic direction of the project is by Sef Townsend, Shamim Azad and Paul Burgess, who also perform under the name East 3, and are to be seen regularly at events like the Tower Hamlets Boishakhi Mela, and Great Day Out in Victoria Park.

Initially a series of workshops and a performance at Rich Mix, East has continued to grow as a creative, diverse community. Over the years it has run several projects funded by Arts Council England, with support from Apples and Snakes, Rich Mix, Tower Hamlets Arts and Events, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Queen Mary University of London and A Season of Bangla Drama. We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the individual donors who’ve helped us through crowdfunding.

East Voices

A few years ago we started to video our stories and create East Archive. During the Covid pandemic we got support from Arts Council England and crowdfunding to move our work online. Under the project name East Voices, we ran a programme of workshops, coaching and recording. The workshops included our first ever workshop for BSL storytelling, run by Deepa Shastri and Sef Townsend in collaboration with Sign for All. Sef also provided one-to-one coaching for participants via Zoom. And we started to record a new set of stories for East Archive: The East Voices Digital Series. After the success of East Voices, we ran a follow-up project which included an online lesson in storytelling from Sef and a workshop to bring together musicians from different cultural traditions.

What’s next?

East Archive is for everyone connected with to East London -we hope you like it! Please get in touch if you’d like to talk about adding a story or song of your own. It’s very much an ongoing project and we’d love to hear from you!

We also run workshops and interactive performances. Find out more here.


Photo: Some of East sharing food during a recording session for the archive.

Daedalus Theatre Company – Registered address: 106 Wilmot Street, London E2 0BT Company No: 07313013 Charity No: 1161754 Website: http://www.daedalustheatre.co.uk

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