Malcolm X Elders

Malcolm X Elders

Malcolm X Elders Theatre

We have been making theatre with the Malcolm X Elders Theatre Company for well over a decade, creating nine original shows together. As well as touring many of their shows to perform in Bristol schools, the Company have worked with children at three primary schools to help them create their own performances – at Glenfrome, Stoke Park and St Nicholas of Tolentine.

The Company has also performed at regional, national and international theatre festivals, including theatre festivals at the acta centre in Bristol, Strike a Light in Gloucester, and the International Community Arts Festival (ICAF) in Rotterdam.

The company’s shows have been created from group members’ own life stories and memories of growing up in the Caribbean and moving to Bristol in the 50s and 60s. The elders have created shows based on the stories that they were told as children, such as Ticky Picky Boom Boom and Moonshine Nights, shows about the challenges they faced when they first arrived in the UK, such as We Have Overcome, and shows that draw on their more recent life experience as older African Caribbean women, such as Use It or Lose It and Little Irritations.

In recent years, the MX Elders created a Crowdfunder film, as shown below, to help secure investment to make new theatre, and have also secured investment from the government Windrush Day grants. They used this to bring back We Have Overcome, the show that they first produced in 2012, to develop the show to tour to Bristol schools.

To be able to see stories which reflect those of my family was amazing, made me feel like I belong and made me proud of who I am and where I have come from – Audience member, school student October 2019

It was wonderful to work with acta and the Malcolm X Elders. The relationships established between the students and the elders were wonderful and showed the students what people in their local community do. The children then attended events at the centre (outside of school hours). I feel that the project allowed for the children to learn about a new area, work together and grow in confidence. The project also allowed for links to be made between the school and centres in the local community. We would welcome back the project any time! – Teacher at St Nicholas of Tolentine School.

what’s happening now?

We have been visiting the Elders on their doorsteps during lockdown, delivering food parcels and exchanging creative tasks such as sketches and poems. We’ve also been asking the group to share stories of their lives, messages to their younger selves, and words of hope to others. These are being shared and made into short films to ensure we can still create great theatre even when we’re apart.

Read more about this and what other acta groups have been doing during lockdown here.