Stormont House Centenary

Award winning Theatre Company, Fifth Word ran an exciting First World War project entitled ‘Stormont House Centenary' in partnership with Hackney Museum, Hackney Archives and supported by Hackney Council’s Leisure and Green Spaces.

This project was aimed at people who live in Hackney and young people who live in Stormont House School.

During the start of WW1 The Red Cross rented Stormont House situated in Hackney Downs Park for use as an auxiliary hospital. Although a school, the building was converted for use as a military hospital and was officially opened on 29th January 1916.

In order to commemorate this event Fifth Word set up a project in collaboration with Hackney Museum and Hackney Archives to involve pupils currently at Stormont House School in creating an exhibition about the Hospital.

Before the school sessions, a group of volunteers assisted a professional researcher to select archives and artefacts that will help uncover the Hospital’s fascinating history. The volunteers received training and were then asked to research specific sources and subjects, such as contemporary local newspapers. The personal stories of local unsung heroes were to be the focal point of the research. All the information gathered by the researcher and the volunteers was put together to create a story box to be used during the school sessions.

Using the dramatic pedagogical approach ‘Mantle of Expert’ the pupils from Stormont House School were able to learn more about the Hospital’s past. The story box was used as a starting point to delve deeper into stories of those who spent time in the hospital either as nurses, staff or as patients. Each session looked at a different aspect of life there, with the pupils ‘becoming’ soldiers writing home from the front or ‘practicing’ to become Volunteer Red Cross Nurses.

After having learnt about the history the young people then went to Hackney Museum to hear about making the exhibitions and the different ways you can tell a story by using objects. They also went to Hackney Archives, where they looked at the different types of historical records that you can use to discover stories from the past, including old newspapers, maps and oral histories.

With all this information the Year 7 pupils prepared an exhibition to present to Hackney Museum. This was officially accepted by the museum staff and set up as the young people had envisaged. The exhibition was launched in April 2016 with a showing of the documentary film of the whole project.

This experience has enabled Year 7 pupils to become curators and create an exhibition that will tour Hackney Museum, Hackney Downs Park Pavilion, Hackney Archives and local schools. A series of public talks were also delivered in conjunction with the exhibition.

About Fifth Word

Fifth Word is an award winning theatre company that produce bold and provocative new plays made in the East Midlands that tour across the country. Formed in 2007 by joint artistic directors Laura Ford and Angharad Jones, Fifth Word specialise in producing new plays that explore contemporary issues by upcoming and established playwrights through new commissions and full productions with partner venues. The work tells bold and timely stories that speaks to traditional theatre goers and next generation audience.

Beyond the stage

Fifth Word work with schools, youth groups and other organisations to provide projects that make a real difference to young people and their communities. we believe that creative learning actively engages young people in an exploratory and inspirational way - building confidence, independence and aspirations for both individuals and groups.