Young people took the lead on a full programme of drama and music for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) in Rotherham. The event was organised as a collaboration between Rotherham Early Help (Rotherham Borough Council), the Hudderfield-based CHOL Theatre arts company, and MyPlace/YMCA community centre.
Young people’s groups from across the borough were encouraged to choose a piece that reflected HMD and the 2016 theme of Don’t Stand By and they came up with a wide range of creative responses. Highlights included a drama piece called ‘The Annexe’, written and presented by members of Rotherham Youth cabinet – a sensitive response to the stories of Anne Frank and Miep Gies. Rotherham Looked After Children’s Council put together a powerful slideshow. There was singing from a young Barbershop quartet from a local LGBT group and beatboxing from the YMCA Tribo Fogo community group, which included young Roma people. This diverse participation was welcomed by the activity organisers, who saw the event as an opportunity to bring together communities of young people who can otherwise be splintered.
The event also featured a fantastic performance of Yorkshire and Humber’s entry into the HMD 2016 art project ‘Flames for Humanity’s Heroes’. Abdul-Salam Abdullah’s Journey of Hope used lion masks to tell the story of the conflict in Darfur and the experiences of survivor Abdulsalam Abdullah. The resulting piece reflected the huge empathy and sensitivity the young people brought to this story of a survivor of the genocide in Darfur, as well as their performance and art skills. The masks and other materials produced for the performance have since been displayed two more times in the borough, including at a local school. The organisers felt that the project raised awareness of a genocide that is not widely known or understood.
Singer songwriter Nic Harding performed her own song on the theme of Don’t Stand By and there were striking displays of artwork about Anne Frank. Also featured was the Rotherham Pledge Tree, which called on people to leave their own message considering how they would not stand by.
The event was attended by around 120 people, including the Mayor, local councillors and Rosie Crook, HMDT’s support worker in the region. This was a record attendance for what is an annual HMD event and the organisers plan to hold an even bigger event next year.
The evening was a testament to the creativity and commitment of the young people involved, all of whom had engaged and empathised with the ideas behind HMD and the powerful message of Don’t Stand By.
- If this example has inspired you to organise an event for HMD 2017, read our theme vision here.
- Read Abdul-Salem Abdullah's Journey of Hope here.
Images copyright Flamingo Photography/Nicola Harding.