MIDLAND ACTORS THEATRE
The Balsall Heath Project
In this project, we worked with groups of young people to explore the history of one area – Balsall Heath in Birmingham.
Originally, the population of Balsall Heath was predominantly English, with a history of local migration to the area. There was also a Jewish presence from the end of the 19th century. From the 1930s onwards, the area saw the arrival of Yemeni, Irish, African Caribbean and South Asian communities.
The project explored the impact of these communities on the area through time – and the traces of these different communities that remain, in buildings, street names, and photographs, as well as in people's memories.
Age group: 12-14
Methods used: Oral History Interviews + Devised drama performances + Films + Heritage Trails + Photography + Digital storytelling
Here's an example of the work we did...
A group of young people at George Dixon Academy created a map of Balsall Heath on a large sheet of paper …
They marked on some of the buildings and landmarks
They were helped by Val Hart, who has written about the history of Balsall Heath
Then, they were taken on a guided tour of the area, by Professor Carl Chinn.
Carl grew up in Balsall Heath – and he shared his own memories of local shops, schools etc., and the people who once lived there…
You can see an Oral History interview below, conducted by students at Al Hijrah School, Birmingham, with two members of the Yemeni community, Faisal Hamood and Hizam Fayeed, sharing their memories of Balsall Heath.