After Hiroshima

This project has now ended. Watch a film about the project here

Following the resounding success of our Grandchildren of the Blitz project, between December 2014 and March 2016 London Bubble ran an intergenerational oral history and performance project which explored how the dropping of the first atomic bomb, on August 6, 1945, was reported in London and how the longer term response grew into the peace movement of the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

About the Project

70 years after the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, After Hiroshima was a community oral history and performance project which was rooted in interviews with people about their reactions to this harrowing event in 1945 and their memories of the subsequent period during which the CND and peace movement was formed. The information that our team uncovered was creatively interpreted, turned into a script and performed in London as a means to commemorate the traumatic event.

Initial reports of the destruction caused by the bomb were censored but afterwards the full effects, including radiation sickness, became more widely known. In the UK, politicians, philosophers, scientists and church leaders united to campaign against nuclear weapons with peaceful protests, marches, music and artwork among the responses.

Between 2015 – 2016, our volunteer research team have learnt how people received the news of ‘the bomb’, what reaction came from people living in the UK and how families of British servicemen who had served in the Far East, or had been prisoners of war under the Japanese, felt at the time. The project examined the period up to October 1963 when an international Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States, the UK and the then Soviet Union. The early days and protests by the peace movement have also been explored.

The testimonies and research have been gathered by a dedicated team of over two hundred volunteers and then disseminated through a series of prepping workshops, shared internally through a number of events and has formed the basis of a new script, by writer Sarah Woods, which was performed by an intergenerational, community group in March 2016 at Dilston Grove gallery in Southwark. The project has also formed the basis of training workshops and support pack for teachers. The archive of information uncovered will be shared with the Hiroshima Peace Museum. We are currently in the process of uploading the interview transcripts and research which you can access below.
This project formerly ran alongside Bubble’s Grandchildren of Hiroshima project, which saw local children in Hiroshima interview Hibakusha, or survivors of the atomic bomb. This project culminated in an intergenerational, community performance in Hiroshima & Tokyo in August 2015, to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima. You can read more about the Grandchildren of Hiroshima project by clicking here.

After Hiroshima is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.

The Show

After Hiroshima tells the story of the world’s first nuclear bomb and the UK response to that – both in terms of weapon development and protest, through the stories of those who were there.
The show was performed by a community cast of 50 people aged 6-80+

Copies of the DVD are now available to buy.  Please CLICK HERE.

Performances took place at Dilston Grove, SE16 on:

4th, 5th March, 7.30pm
6th March 3pm & 7.30pm
11th, 12th March, 7.30pm
13th March 3pm & 7.30pm

TICKETS

Tickets: £10/£12/£14

Family tickets also available. (Limited number of tickets available at each price)

The performance takes place at Dilston Grove, Southwark Park, London SE16 2DD (access is inside Southwark Park in the Southwest corner of the park). Dilston Grove is an accessible building.
To book your tickets please click here. (Link coming soon!)

Public Transport
Tube: Surrey Quays (London Overground) or Canada Water (Jubilee Line)
Bus: 47, 188, 199, 225, 381

Buy the DVD

Click here to purchase a DVD of the show. Each DVD is £4, or two for £7.

Timeline of Events

The Project Begins
The steering committee was appointed
December 2014

Oral History Training
April 2015
Hosted by Rib Davis, Oral History Society/British Library accredited trainer

Digital Workshop Training
Two sessions over April and May 2015

Launch Event
Explaining the Grandchildren of Hiroshima project, the new After Hiroshima project and the concept of Vernacular Theatre
May 2015

Prepping Workshops
June 2015 for 5 sessions then again between September – November 2015

Lantern Making Workshop
at Bubble. All were welcome
July 2015

Lantern Making Workshop
at Friends House (Quakers in Britain)
August 2015

Hiroshima Dispersed 
6 August 2015
The 70th anniversary of the devastation of Hiroshima. To read more about how we marked the day please click here

‘Make a Protest!’ Workshop
Participants designed and screen printed their own protest banners and made their own badges
October 2015

Music and Culture Workshop
A skiffle music protest song workshop led by veteran peace campaigner, Jim Radford
November 2015

Short Course for Teachers
On running an oral history project within the school
November 2015

Show rehearsals
Between November 2015 – March 2016

Performances
Preview: Thursday 3rd March
Friday 4th – Sunday 6th March
Friday 11th – Sunday 13th March

Short Course for Teachers

NOW CLOSED.

In November 2015 London Bubble Theatre Company ran a free course designed for teachers in the logistics of running an oral history project within the school setting, for children. The course was open to upper primary and secondary teachers as well as teachers in training. The course was three sessions long, over a period of three weeks.
The course structure is as follows:

Workshop 1
Collecting Oral Histories
Facilitated by Rib Davis (Oral History Soc.)

Workshop 2
Interpreting Oral Histories
Facilitated by Jonathan Petherbridge
& Ruth Dewa (London Bubble)

Workshop 3
“Making” – Identifying key themes & implementing practical activities
Facilitated by Caroline Dorset (The Wallace Collection)

For more information please contact Ruth Dewa on:
ruth@londonbubble.org.uk
0207 237 4434

Interview Transcripts

Please click the name of the interviewees below to take you to their full interview transcripts.

Oral history interviews

Interview with Hanneke Coates, who spent over three years of her childhood in a Japanese-run concentration camp in Indonesia.

Interview with Peggy Seeger, American folk singer and activist.

Interview with Michael Randle, one of the organisers of the first Aldermaston march (1958), Chairman of the Direct Action Committee (1958-61) and Secretary of the Committee of 100 (1960-61).

Interview with Bill Stephens, long time CND member.

Interview with Michael George who visited Hiroshima just four months after its destruction by the atomic bomb.

Interview with Ray Kemp, a local Rotherhithe resident who was serving in the South East Asia Command in Madras when he heard the news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Interview with Annette Wallis who shares her personal experience of the Quaker perspective of nuclear disarmament.

Interview (1) with Jim Radford, folk musician and veteran peace campaigner (Committee of 100, Direct Action Committee & CND).

Interview (2) with Jim Radford.

Interview with Ernest Rodker, veteran peace campaigner (Committee of 100 organiser) and conscientious objector.

Interview (1) with Bruce Kent, former Roman Catholic Priest and current Vice President of CND.

Interview (2) with Bruce Kent.

Interview with Keith Quilter, a Second World War veteran who was on a submarine when he first heard the news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Interview with Karl & Gloria Dallas, both veteran peace campaigners & the latter a well-known folk musician.

Interview with Brenda Watkinson, local Southwark resident.

Interview with Walter Wolfgang, one of the organisers of the first Aldermaston March & now one of the current CND Vice-Presidents.

Interview with Rosalie Huzzard, an active member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Interview with Pat Arrowsmith, Field Secretary (organiser) for the first Aldermaston March.

Interview with Malcolm Stern, long-time member of the CND & father of one of our cast members!

Interview with Pat Kingwell, local Southwark resident.

Interview with Carol Turner, who joined her local CND group whilst in secondary school & is now heavily involved with the Labour Party.

Interview with Jean Browne, a local Southwark resident.

Interview with Dorothy Sullivan, a local Southwark resident.

Interview with David Clark, a local Southwark resident.

Research interviews:

Interview with Sara Medi Jones, current Campaigns Officer at CND.

Interview with Kennette Benedict, Senior Adviser to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and served as Executive Director and Publisher until she retired in Feb. 2015.

Interview with Paul Schulte, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London & one of the only people we spoke to who is committed to nuclear deterrence.

Interview (1)with John Mecklin, Editor of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Interview (2) with John Mecklin.

Interview with Bo Jacobs, associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University, Japan speaking about his work on the Global Hibakusha project and other research.

Interview with Takako Barker, a Japanese-born peace activist who (amongst other things) who stands outside the Japanese Embassy in London every week protesting against the plans of the Japanese Government to change Article 9 of the Constitution which prevents Japan from maintaining or using any military force.

 

Research

This material has been uncovered through research trips, undertaken by our volunteers, to the following places: the Peace Museum (Bradford), the Bradford University Archives, LSE University Library, the Imperial War Museum, the Science Museum and Southwark Local History Library. Our volunteers have also undertaken independent research into areas that interest them.
A lot of the research is visual and features some great graphic design of the nuclear disarmament movement during the ’50’s and ’60’s. Have a browse to find out more.

Our research, along with the interview transcripts, gets passed on to our writer, Sarah Woods, as well as explored during our Thursday evening intergenerational prepping workshops.

Audio Files

Here are some audio files for you to listen to:

How People Were Involved

After Hiroshima would not have been possible without the help of the 258 dedicated volunteers and participants that formed the team. Participants were at the heart of the project at every stage and had a major role in sculpting and directing it. They came to us from all walks of life.. some were local residents wanting to contribute to a community project, others were university students looking to develop new skills and others even lived abroad and were able to take part in the project through remotely transcribing interview for us.

Here are a number of ways that people were involved with the project but the list is not exhaustive. We aimed to tailor each opportunity to the individual to ensure if was a meaningful experience for both parties:

The Show
Technical assistants, assistant stage managers, wardrobe assistants, Front of House helpers, installation/de-installation assistants.

Singers
The choir was led by Fran Lobo and Katie Cooper. It was formed of 17 intergenerational singers of mixed abilities. Everyone was welcome, they didn’t need to be able to read sheet music or have any prior experience just enthusiasm.

Exhibition volunteers
A team of volunteers got together to discuss and interpret the research and interview transcripts. This resulted in our Front of House exhibition which focused on the Aldermaston Marches.

Story tellers 
We interviewed 35 people about their immediate, and longer term, responses to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Record & transcribe interviews
A dedicated team of interviewers visited story tellers, all over the country, in their own homes to hear and record their testimony. These interviewes were then transcribed by a huge team of volunteers. It was a massive undertaking; we had approximately 60 hours of interviews and each hour of interview takes roughly 8 hours to transcribe!

Researchers
Our researchers used a wide range of mediums and sources (including archival material, newspapers, banners/propaganda, songs and music) to explore points of interest that came up in the interviews as well as the subject more widely. We went on research day-trips to the Peace Museum, the Bradford University peace archives, the Southwark Local History Library and the LSE archives. Other researchers worked independently from home. Some asked for subjects to research whilst others chose themes that interested them such as the role of women in the early nuclear disarmament movement.

Preppers
During a series of weekly workshops, an intergenerational group creatively explored and the research and testimonies collected throughout to see what could be brought to life theatrically; what worked and what didn’t? This process informed the script writing process.

Images

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