Situated in east London on the borders of Tower Hamlets and Limehouse, Half Moon Young People’s Theatre is a rare building-based organisation focused solely on theatre with and for young people. It produces theatre, runs youth programmes and is a receiving house for young people's theatre. Choosing Half Moon as one of three community bases within the overall research project was because of its geographical location, the age of the participants and a longstanding productive working relationship between Central and Half Moon.

In addition, prior to the project, another piece, ‘The Closer I Get, the Distant I Am’, had been created as part of Half Moon’s 2010 ‘Exchange for Change’ programme. This devised piece, exploring modes of communication among young people and the effects of digital technologies on such communication, served as a strong precursor for some of the explorations around digital place within the project.

In terms of what was put in place prior to the sessions starting, a two day workshop was organised, allowing Sally Mackey to work closely with the artists on the project, to share ideas and possible approaches, as well as inputting theories and methodologies around the performance of place and devising research questions specific to the context of the work in Half Moon.

The questions which emerged from these sessions are as follows:

  • How might the performance project at Half Moon identify and ‘ease’ a fear of place?
  • How is everyday place ‘performed’? How does expressing everyday place through performance shift the quotidian?
  • Are extraordinary e.g. ‘special’ places important? How do performance practices help demonstrate ‘special places’? How does performance help enhance a relationship with a special or extraordinary place?

This pre-projects session also resulted in the selection of appropriate practices to respond to these questions. The initial practices selected were:

  • deemed appropriate for the nature of the project e.g. expected to facilitate a re-viewing of location for the participants;
  • accessible to the participants (taking into account language, ability, intention, cultural sensitivity);
  • able to be run by experienced practitioners with input from the researchers.

As the project coincided with the summer term for the youth theatre group, the pre-project planning did not involve the same logistical issues to do with organising spaces or inviting participants, as was present in Cyrff Ystwyth and Oldham Theatre workshop. The planning was rather centred in how the project aims and inquiries could be housed productively within the format of 10 sessions with the group, culminating in a public performance.

Other pre-project planning involved setting up weekly skype conversations between project co-ordinator, Vishni Velada-Billson and Sally Mackey. These were put in place to ensure that the ongoing activities were focused on the research and to discuss what was emerging from the sessions.