In summer 2019, young people from both the National Youth Theatre (NYT) and METRO Charity had the unique opportunity to develop a new play at Eltham Palace ‘Our House’.
‘Our House’ explores LGBTQ+ stories and the history of the Eltham Palace. Taking inspiration from the lives of Eltham’s famous occupants – King Edward II, King Henry VIII, and Courtauld family, as well as the stories of the countless people including servants, musicians, soldiers, and administrators, whose lives are linked with Eltham and its more famous residents, but whose stories have gone untold or have even been lost entirely.
Over two months, we worked with historians, musicians, directors, writers and theatre professionals to create a new immersive promenade performance*. Following an introduction to Eltham Palace’s history, they researched LGBTQ+ narratives relating to the palace and its inhabitants and, during creative workshops, forged their ideas into a script.
The play is divided into eight short scenes exploring the supposed romance between King Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston, Henry VIII’s upbringing at the Palace with his sisters, and working-class queer stories from the 1930s when Eltham Palace was known for high-society parties
On the 21st and 22nd September, performances took place at Eltham Palace to both invited guests and members of the public. More than 500 people attended the performances, moving through various Palace rooms and into the gardens to encounter each new scene.
We were able to create a documentary film as the play was created and performed, that we hope to add to this page soon.
Not only did everyone involved gain writing, performing, and dancing skills, they also gained confidence, made friends, and had a lot of fun. Everyone started to feel a sense of ownership over the site, that it was a welcoming and safe space.