Face Front looking back

08 September 2016

Local residents involved with the Building Bridges project at Face Front Inclusive Theatre in Edmonton, London, have worked together to produce an epic musical journey. It highlights two remarkable women from the area's history, Elizabeth Sawyer and Gladys Aylward. In this piece, one of its members, Anne McGilchrist, tells us more.

“InterACTion is an intergenerational theatre group that creates original plays based upon the interest and passions of its diverse group of members, aged from 11 to 90-years old. Everyone’s welcome, regardless of ability.

“Our play, ‘Determined and the Damned’, tells the story of two very different Edmonton women, Gladys Aylward and Elizabeth Sawyer. Their stories resonated with us and there’s been a real buzz about the project from start to finish.

“Gladys Aylward was an ordinary working woman, determined to help the World. Against the odds, she set off to China to become a Christian missionary. Her strength and bravery shine through in the production as she learns Chinese, saves more than 100 orphans and even helps to bring about peace during a prison riot!

“Aylward worked in China alongside an older missionary, Jeannie Lawson. The two most notably enforced laws on behalf of the Chinese government that outlawed the binding of young girls’ feet to stunt their growth. Aylward was offered Chinese citizenship for her work in 1936.

While Gladys Aylward is ‘Determined’, Elizabeth Sawyer is ‘Damned’. She was labelled an outcast in her local community in Edmonton and, in 1621, was tried and executed for witchcraft.

“I’m one of three actresses to portray Elizabeth. It’s always more fun to act a wicked part, but in this case she was labelled a witch because she was alien, unusual.

“When I came to live in the area in 1959 my family was considered to be all these things and it was very lonely.

“With InterACTion, it’s all in the name. A lot of our members are isolated in some way, they are older people or have disabilities or are young people who felt they are not listened to, so a lot of them felt akin to Elizabeth, who was pushed aside and bullied.”

“This project has been a great way to showcase our area’s history.

“We’re really proud of what we have achieved together.”

People’s Health Trust has invested £28,640 in Face Front Inclusive Theatre, using money raised by HealthPromote through The Health Lottery.

To learn more about projects we fund, click here.

To learn more about Face Front Theatre, click here.


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