In preparation for our new building’s opening in November, we have begun developing public-facing material with which we can celebrate Riverside’s rich heritage. We have commissioned the artist Wilfrid Wood to produce illustrations of twelve ‘Riverside Icons’ - significant individuals who have shaped Riverside’s history – which will be reproduced as coasters, free to those visiting our building.
Also, in collaboration with Tea Films, we have begun production on a short film which will play before screenings in our cinemas. This will celebrate Riverside’s heritage through on-screen interviews with recognisable figures who have worked here. We have a wish list of participants who we will now attempt to contact and schedule interviews with.
September – October 2019
We are busy arranging and conducting interviews across London with figures important to Riverside’s history. It’s been fascinating hearing such personal recollections of life and landmarks achieved at Riverside. Of his decision to open Riverside Studios in 1976 with a ground-breaking production of ‘The Cherry Orchard’, Peter Gill said “I didn’t want to treat Hammersmith as if it was just nowhere”. Poet Benjamin Zephaniah fondly described Riverside as a “home from home”, while American actor Sharon Gless likened it to “an international arts festival, under one roof”. Actor Nina Wadia felt that the new Riverside Studios “definitely sits on fertile ground”. It’s going to be very challenging editing these conversations into a short film!
Having conducted nine filmed interviews and edited them into a three-minute film, we are able to screen the finished piece to an audience.
At our building’s opening event, our completed film was shown in Studio 1 to an audience of three-hundred invited guests. It was great to see it on the big screen and to hear the enthusiastic audience responses to the memories shared. A proud moment.
Our archive collection has finally been delivered and safely installed in our new building (see image above). This allows us to produce our first exhibition, inspired by Women’s History Month and celebrating some of the important female figures who have worked at Riverside. The exhibition includes material relating to Jenny Stein (Riverside’s first female Artistic Director), Mona Hammond (actress and co-founder of Talawa theatre company), Helen Mirren (star of our 1979 production of ‘Measure for Measure’), Victoria Chaplin (co-founder of Les Cirque Imaginaire) and Yoko Ono (whose exhibition ‘In Facing’ was mounted at Riverside in 1990).
Unfortunately, this month the world has been plunged into a public health crisis with the emergence of the COVID-19 virus. In accordance with government instructions, our building must close and staff work from home for the foreseeable future.
With the instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been decided with NLHF that Riverside’s heritage project will be paused until events and activities can be planned with more certainty. The archival collection is secure in our purpose-built storage and, as no major public activities have yet been scheduled, we are able to comfortably postpone the project.
Following three national lockdowns designed to manage the spread of COVID-19, the government has lifted most remaining restrictions. Mindful of the continuing instability caused by the virus, we are looking to adapt certain elements of the project, in agreement with NLHF.
November 2021 - May 2022