This Saturday, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali and former Dr Who, Sylvester McCoy cut the ribbon to mark the re-opening of Half Moon Young People’s Theatre in Limehouse, Tower Hamlets. During a three month closure the theatre’s Front of House has undergone an extensive refurbishment to make the historic, locally listed building a more welcoming and accessible venue, with improved facilities and greater access for disabled users. Half Moon’s White Horse Road venue was originally built in 1864 as a Victorian Board of Works. It had a variety of uses during the 20th Century before falling derelict in the 1980s. The building was brought back into use by Half Moon in the early 1990s after the company raised £1.3m from the London Docklands Development Corporation and European regeneration funds. The funds helped ensure that the building was fit for use by the public, however by the beginning of the new century it was clear that significant capital works were in order to make the building better fit for purpose as a community performance space.
STEP were lucky enough attend a Half Moon opening event on Tuesday 13th November. It was a great night full of familiar faces. The event began in the new foyer (that looks incredible!) with members of the youth theatre playfully introducing the event and then dramatically leading the audience into the performance space. The performance was great and explored issues regarding community, youth and responsibility – it was very moving and culminated in the release of a balloon, physically representing the hope that the Half Moon offers to the local community. Half Moon is a local organisation with a national remit, committed to supporting young people at every stage of their creative development. Working from their base in Limehouse and throughout the further community, they make a big impact on the lives of young people. Their wide-ranging programme reaches 27,500 people annually and engages those who are often excluded from arts activity. Their activity includes a season of professional plays for young audiences, national touring productions and an extensive creative learning programme, including five youth theatres.
Helen Mirren, a patron, commented on Half Moon’s special place within the community, “Half Moon is well-established in East London as a home for innovative professional theatre for young people from all kinds of backgrounds. I fully endorse the company’s commitment to introduce audiences, from tots to teens, to high-quality performance and imaginative collaboration. Half Moon is the kind of organisation which ensures theatre will continue to thrive and inspire and I am happy to support it.”
Half Moon are currently producing work for the STEP Beyond Festival 2012/13 and facilitated a day for pupils from St. Michael’s Catholic College exploring ‘Careers in Theatre’. A big congratulations and good luck from STEP to everyone at Half Moon Young People’s Theatre.