Between May and July as part of the Home Truths festival, Cardboard Citizens and the Museum of Homelessness teamed up to invite visitors to the plays to explore some Raw Truths about housing and homelessness. Inspired by the themes in the play cycles, this series of intimate conversations and events opened up some of the big questions about how our society responds to homelessness.
Fresh from a highly successful sell-out tour of Cathy, Cardboard Citizens squatted in the Bunker in London Bridge to present a playful exploration from the slums of Victoria London to the madness of London today. This series of nine plays was called Home Truths and ran from 17 April to 13 May 2017.
In response to the plays, everyday objects and unexpected stories were explored in various settings throughout London by the Museum of Homelessness. Part of our State of the Nation programme, the events were a springboard for discussion and debate about what we haven’t learned from the past and what we could do differently in the future. The Raw Truths events shared stories of resistance; cruelty and compassion drawn from the museum’s current State of the Nation research, and invited visitors to contribute their own.
THE FULL PROGRAMME AS IT HAPPENED IN BELOW
When Homes Became Investments
5.30pm – 6.30pm
Housing is our national obsession.
In just over one hundred years ‘we’ have gone from being a nation of renters to a nation of proud homeowners. If Michael from The House with the Yellow Front Door is one of the lucky ones, what about the rest of us?
Over half of England’s net worth is now bound up in housing equity. In 21st century London, it seems like almost every other building is fair game for luxury flat developments, including former social housing estates and precious cultural spaces like the Joiner’s Arms and Madame Jo-Jo’s.
This session explored the impact of this on everyday lives. Featuring a contribution from Dan Glass, an award winning writer, cabaret performer, human rights campaigner and LGBTQI+ activist we explored raw truths about right to buy, social cleansing and the steady erosion of places we call home.
6pm – 11.30pm
On the evening 10 June the Museum of Homelessness contributed some Raw Truths to a special night walking event in collaboration with the Charles Dickens Museum. Contributors included the Museum of Homelessness, musicians from the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, UCL professor John Mullan, artist William Raban, UCL professor Matthew Beaumont (author of the highly acclaimed Night Walking: A Nocturnal History of London, Verso, 2015), and actors Sherrie Cameron Akoto, Dominic Gerrard and Elle Payne.
Our contribution examined the realities of homelessness today and how notions of deserving and undeserving poor continue to play out in relation to how the city treats its people.
This event forms part of the programme for the Restless Shadow, an exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum exploring a largely unknown and under-rated body of Dickens’s work that speaks plainly to issues of social justice including poverty and homelessness.
The full programme for the event can be found here.
Cardboard Citizens HQ
3pm – 4pm
Housing resistance has manifested in many ways over the years. From Ken Loach and Cathy Come Home to Heathcote Williams, there have always been people fighting for housing as a human right and taking things into their own hands.
Taking the State of Frestonia as an inspiration, this session explored some of what came before and after in the squatting scene and alternative communities. We explored archive materials and present day testimony which shine a light on resistance through the decades.
Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Part of the Cardboard Citizens Symposium
The MoH has been asked to contribute an event to the Cardboard Citizens Home Truths Symposium that examined what theatre can do about housing. Titled ‘Beyond Bricks and Mortar’ this session was inspired by themes of responses to homelessness explored in the plays and brings together archival evidence, real life testimony and a healthy dose of realism, to demonstrate why approaches to ‘solving’ homelessness is much more complex than it seems and that there are no easy answers.
Inspired by the themes and ideas of Home Truths, Cardboard Citizens is teamed up with the Museum of Homelessness to curate an experience that will include a display of archival items and stories and live performances. The Exchanges toured to three hostels and day centres and also included objects lifted from the MoH’s State of the Nation project – a snapshot of homelessness and housing issues in 2017.