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Discover the first Chinatown in east London play

The Last Days of Limehouse The Last Days of Limehouse

Thursday, July 3, 2014
6:07 PM

A journey into the original Chinatown’s forgotten past makes its stage debut this summer at Limehouse Town Hall.

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Eurasian boys on doorstep in Tower HamletsEurasian boys on doorstep in Tower Hamlets

The Last Days of Limehouse focuses on London’s first Chinese community which sprang up in Docklands during the late 19th century.

Though literature of the period documented the area, there are still very few records told by Chinese voices.

Co-director Kumiko Mendl said: “I was curious about the community that was living in Soho and found that the first Chinatown started in Limehouse. I was interested in what this place was like; the fiction around the time had built up the picture of a sinister, shady and dangerous place.

“Of course, this was all blown up out of proportion.”

Kumiko added that there was little historical record but discovering an article from 1958 about the council’s intention to tear down the area around Pennyfields inspired the play.

The plot reimagines the fight to save the centre of Chinese life in the area.

She said: “This was a turning point in people’s lives, even though many had left by then.

“Limehouse Town Hall also has resonance for us. It is situated not far from where Chinatown was. There is this sense it will come under threat of being torn down.”

The play explores the ideas around place and how the destruction of it affects identity.

Kumiko said: “Even though it is a story about the Chinese, is it universal to all communities and how people in a state of change react.”

Performances start on July 16 with shows from Wednesday to Saturday at 7.30pm.

Additional Sunday perfomances are at 5pm. Alternative family performances will also take place.

Tickets prices start from £10. Call 020 7709 8900 to book. For more details visit yellowearth.org

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