Over 700 years of Norwich's history of incomers features in Come Yew In!
PUBLISHED: 09:26 30 June 2017
The Common Lot staging high-paced historical and contemporary pastiche of original dance, song, comedy, audience participation and personal testimony at series of free shows around the city.
From Romans to Dutch weavers to today’s refugees fleeing war, Norwich has a long history of incomers and 700 years of its history of immigration is being celebrated in new outdoor play.
Come Yew In!, being staged for free at the city’s open spaces this summer, beginning this weekend, is a collaboration with local writers, amateur researchers, actors and crew and aims to celebrate and understand the long-standing history of the contribution that ‘incomers’ have made to the Fine City.
Drawing inspiration from the extensive research conducted by a team of volunteers working with Anglia Ruskin University, the play is a high-paced historical and contemporary pastiche of original dance, song, comedy, audience participation and personal testimony.
It is being staged by acclaimed local theatre company The Common Lot and the Norwich-based charity, New Routes, who support the integration of modern-day migrants to the city.
The Common Lot have previously staged local history with production based on, amongst other things, Boudicca and Kett’s Rebellion. Last year they also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company on A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play For The Nation.
Director Simon Floyd said he hoped the production would enlighten people about the city’s immigrant past and change attitudes to incomers. “I believe wholly and completely in what theatre can do to change the world for the better – especially when it is free and accessible to all,” he said.
“For 200 years Norwich was a trilingual city. It was Dutch, Flemish and English spoken on the streets of Norwich and lots of our Norfolk accent is largely affected by the Dutch influence on the language. Like ‘he come’, the absence of the ’s’ on the third person singular comes as a direct result of the Dutch and Flemish immigration. Also the canary was brought in by the Flemish weavers. “
Among those being celebrated in the show is Black Anna, the renowned Italian landlady and jazz singer at the Jolly Butchers on Ber Street.
Stories, interviews and archival materials also cover The Freemen of Norwich, the story of the change brought by the Flemish weavers, or ‘Strangers’; the development of Jewish, Huguenot and Italian communities, the Kindertransport, and contemporary stories of migration from Eastern Europe, the Congo, Zimbabwe, Chile and Syria.
Refugees from around the world are part of cast including Moussa Ibrahim, a refugee from Sudan who found his way to Norwich after escaping civil war.
Dr Jeannette Baxter, a researcher with New Routes, said; “What this show is trying to do is highlight the ways in which incomers have enriched the economic, social and cultural life, whilst at the same time not shying away from really dark periods in history such as the treatment of the Jewish communities here.”
• Come Yew In! will premiere at Heigham Park on June 30 (Avenue School if weather is poor) and will culminate in a weekend at the Whiffler Theatre for the Lord Mayor’s celebration on July 7-9. There are also performances at Cow Tower (July 2), Peterson’s Park, Mile Cross (July 4), Cadge Road Community Centre (July 5) and Jubilee Park (July 6).
• The show will also at be staged at Whiffler Theatre, Castle Gardens, Norwich, on July 7 (7.30pm), July 8 (1pm) and July 9 (2.30pm), and at Norwich Arts Centre garden on July 9 (7.30pm), as part of the Lanes Festival.
• Full details of shows can be found HERE