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November 3, 2016

Community Correspondent: The Fashionable Lounge’s Intergenerational Drama Project – City Varieties

The Fashionable Lounge’s Intergenerational project with Leeds Older People’s Forum

Thursday 6 October 2016

By Ben Anson & Laura Cope        

Once a month a small group of us, mainly retired aged from 50 to over 90,meet in the cosy circle bar of a Victorian Music Hall; Leeds’ very own City Varieties. Our group is called The Fashionable Lounge.

We are seated under the watchful eyes of music hall stars of past and present whose photographs line the walls. I don’t feel as though we are judged by them but approved of and welcomed — perhaps even a silent applause occasionally?

Memories are shared, heart-warming, moving, revelatory and funny. Everyone has their own story to tell. No-one is ever left out. A feeling of cosy camaraderie has grown. Sometimes we play games and we have even been known to do a bit of play acting which is fitting for the venue.    

The group is run by the wonderful staff of the City Varieties. We are kept fueled with hot drinks, biscuits and cake. Transport is arranged for those who wish to use it. Long may it continue.

For our project we invited 11 students from Kippax Ash Tree Primary School to come in and spend an afternoon with us with the aim to encourage young people to spend more time with the older generation. Laura Cope from the Learning Team at City Varieties went into school to brief the students on what to expect during the session and to teach them interviewing techniques the week before.

When the pupils arrived we played a few fun get-to-know-you games so we all felt comfortable with each other. The pupils and the members of the Fashionable Lounge then got paired up and the pupils interviewed us about our lives. The questions were mainly about what childhood was like when we were young. 

The pupils then presented back their findings by way of pictures, factsheets and acting out scenes. Laura then took the pupils outside and they chose one story from Jack, one of the Fashionable Lounge members. Jack had fought in the war and the children found this very interesting and asked him lots of questions about it. They then came in and presented his story through still images. We as members of Fashionable Lounge had to guess which story they had chosen and we all guessed correctly.

A good time was had by all and the objectives of the session were met with the pupils going away with more of an understanding of what childhood was like for us. We all had a fantastic afternoon and when Laura asked for words to describe the afternoon the pupils and members of Fashionable Lounge came up with many including really fun, educational, excellent, interesting and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!