Alan Gilbey also worked with other theatre groups in the borough. In 1986, A View of the River, was performed at a deserted warehouse on the Isle of Dogs. An epic production, devised by locals and guided by Alan, it used an ambitious mix of panto, pageant and performance to explore the area’s dockland past and its corporate future. It was later revived by the WOOF Theatre Company at the new Half Moon Theatre in Mile End as part of The East End Festival.
There followed a myriad of productions under a bewildering array of company titles, THAP’s involvement being the link. Under the ‘Dramatic Events’ banner, in conjunction with the Island Arts Centre, THAP worker Anne Edyvean oversaw, Soap Opera, made up of women from a mother and toddler group.
The Isle of Dogs residents had taken part in A View of the River, and demanded a show of their own, based around their personal lives. On Bombshell, Anne worked with clients of St Clements Drug Dependency Unit. Also, on other plays based around local campaigns.
Eamon Duggan street theatre performance.
During the 1980s, the project also promoted ‘alternative cabaret’ events in Bethnal Green. They featured performers such as John Hegley and Harry Enfield, who went on to achieve national fame.
But true to its original intentions, rather than merely providing a stand-up comedian’s stepping stone, the project also promoted local poets, writers and musicians at the shows.
Although the current Brick Lane Bookshop does not run a theatre programme, ventures that had their roots in THAP and Eastside continue to flourish.
One example is Alan Gilbey’s East End Backpassages, ‘exploring the side streets of social history.’ These combined walks and ‘speed history’ events continue to use non-professional performers to tell the stories of East London.
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