A Trellick Tower Tale: “If these walls could talk … well they do now”

Monique Odoom-Simpson (pic) is part of a performing group doing a year long project about Trellick Tower and the people who live there.

I love theatre. I love to perform. I love to act. I just enjoy being creative. Especially when I get to engage with like-minded people That’s why I jumped at the chance to join SPID Theatre’s Trellick Tales. Actually, that’s not the only reason. The idea that we were going to explore the ‘story’ of Trellick Tower intrigued me.

Going into this project I liked that we were going to explore a council estate, but I was unsure of what story there was to be told. To get a full understanding of Trellick Tower and the story behind it, we were first guided through the architectural history of the building by the 20th Century Society (a group I have since seen on BBC1, who definitely know what they’re talking about!) They took us on a tour of the building whilst explaining the history and intentions behind Trellick Tower. Long story short, I will never look at Trellick the same way ever again and I mean that in a good way. When people think of architecture, it’s easy to think of buildings like Notre Dame, the Empire State Building or The Shard but touring Trellick Tower, we were encouraged to think about the architect, Erno Goldfinger’s, wishes and the social impact of his design on tenants’ lives.

Meeting the older residents of Trellick Tower has been the most important aspect of our journey so far, whether they have lived there for a year, ten years or since the year its doors opened. Without their help we wouldn’t be able to create our work. The Oral History Society taught us how to interview people, which surprisingly, is trickier than you would think. I enjoy talking to people and listening to their stories especially if they’re great story-tellers, but the hard part is stopping yourself from chiming in. A lot of the tenants shared similar views but also offered varied and contradictory experiences which gave us great material to to explore during the creation of our performance.

SPID Theatre Company have encouraged all of us to be proactive in creating work for this project. We conducted interviews with tenants under the guidance of the Oral History Society and used improvisation to create stories for a unique theatre experience. I have to say, I’ve become a fan of improv. It can be daunting at times but hey, what’s life without challenges? Plus some of life’s best experiences come at the spur of the moment or out of nowhere. I feel really inspired.

A great aspect of being a part of this project is that I’ve learnt to question my preconceived notions about buildings like Trellick Tower. Whatever stories we hear, whether true or not, ignore the fact that that place is home for so many and there is more than one story to be told. Hearing the residents’ stories has brought the building to life. Hearing the hopes and aspirations, the fears and disappointments has inspired all of us to create something special and unique. We’ve found so much material to create exciting theatre.

I know that everyone who is a part of Trellick Tales wants to do justice to the stories that have been shared with us. Based on the fantastic sessions we’ve had so far, I think we just might achieve that.
Young people from SPID will be unearthing the history of Trellick for short, dramatised, free tour round the tower at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm on Saturday 26th September. It’s free but you need to book by emailing [email protected] and there’s more about SPID here spidtheatre

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