A group of young people from Camden performed a modern urban version of The Prioress Tale by the medieval English writer, Geoffrey Chaucer, at the British Library in December.
The Chaucer FFWD (Fast Forward) Project was funded by the Arts Council England and aimed to transform London’s inner city teenagers into modern day ‘wordsmiths.’
The Prioress Tale
The original story is part of the famous Canterbury Tales written in the 14th Century and tells of a mother’s grief when her son is martyred by Jews. Young spoken word poet and activist Rosie Knight helped to give the tale a modern twist by depicting the grief of a mother whose child is a victim of gang violence in urban London. Ms Knight also mentored the youngsters to develop their performance and presentation skills.
Led by Camden-based organisation Wisdm
Wisdm was set up in 2007 and delivers educational projects to support young people through arts training and education.
Chasney Maturine, founder, said: “The project allows youngsters to study what they are not familiar with and be creative with it.”
Camden youth speak
Leah Legg-mead, 14, who is a student at Haverstock School and is hoping for a singing career, told London Oral History: “I learned something new and we did some voice training which will help with my singing.”
Kevin Candeias, also 14, who goes by the rap name of ‘Maka’, said: “It was a great opportunity for me to get heard before an audience. Old English was complicated but it was fun trying to learn it. It improved my vocabulary which will help with my rap.”
To be shown on TV
The performance was filmed and will be broadcast soon on the Sky Community Channel and the Evening Standard London Live Channel.
Alice Mayers, Regional Project Manager at the British Library said: “We are pleased to be able to host the Chaucer FFWD event […] at the British Library where the original Canterbury Tale transcripts are held.”