Alecky Blythe's Little Revolution is a verbatim-theatre play about the London Riots, a series of related disturbances, including widespread looting and arson, that took place in several London boroughs (as well as in other towns and cities in England) in August 2011. It was first performed at the Almeida Theatre, London, on 26 August 2014.
The play was created and performed using the verbatim-theatre techniques developed by Blythe with her company Recorded Delivery. It is composed entirely of material drawn from recordings made by Blythe, who personally interviewed many of the participants and witnesses of the riots. Those conversations, in edited form, are then reproduced by actors on stage. The script is a transcription of the final selection of material, although in rehearsal and performance the actors work from an in-ear audio feed to ensure that the original conversations are replicated with meticulous verisimilitude. Some names of interviewees have been changed.
The play focuses on responses to the riots within an area of Hackney in east London. Blythe puts herself into the story and shows how she was tangentially caught up in the riots as they happened: in one episode, a group of looters catch her taking pictures and ask to inspect her camera before moving on. The main focus is on the response of two disparate groups in the aftermath of events. Middle-class residents who live around Clapton Square start a fund to come to the aid of a looted local shopkeeper and hold a street party to bring people together. Meanwhile, female activists on the adjacent, much poorer, Pembury estate start a campaign against the scapegoating of young people, stop-and-search police tactics and the social inequalities at the heart of the problem.
This production was recorded in the Autumn of 2020 and therefore was made observing restrictions to ensure the safety of all company members against Covid-19. More information about Arts University Bournemouth’s Covid-19 management can be found at https://aub.ac.uk/covid-19
Little Revolution is a play which has so many political moving parts. On the surface one can interpret the riots as the ‘heat of the summer’, when in fact, it felt as though it ran parallel to current events with the death of George Floyd and the cuts to public spending, that effected those who were already under resourced. It is a play which reminds us that all our lives are somewhat intertwined.
Set in the Hackney Riots of 2011, and taken from real voices of some of the people involved, its centre are those in the community re-opening a shop, damaged in the riots.
The production rehearsed and filmed, under COVID safety, conditions. These restrictions were challenging, but we did it. We hope you can get the essence of the riots and the people of that community.
I was very pleased to have the opportunity of returning to work at my alma mater, this time as a director of a production.