A group of care-experienced young people delivered a powerful performance of a new play, Echoes Through Time: The Story of Care, to a sold-out audience at Hoxton Hall on Thursday 4 April 2024. The play was inspired by stories of children raised in the Foundling Hospital.

The play was the outcome of a theatre-making project led by writer Brian Mullin and director Vicky Moran, in collaboration with care-experienced young people, as part of Coram’s programme Voices Through Time: The Story of Care, made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

The play centres on a group of care-experienced young people suspended in time, half in the modern world, half in the world of the Foundling Hospital, which was established by Thomas Coram in 1739 as a home for babies whose mothers were unable to care for them. The play drew on the stories of real children raised at the Foundling Hospital in the 18th and 19th centuries.  

In an emotionally-charged portrayal, the young performers stepped inside the experiences of the Foundlings, exploring the idea of separation from birth families and giving a voice to those first children in care, who lived hundreds of years ago. The play also grappled with the challenges of today’s care system and unearthed the common threads of experience across the centuries.  

The performance was followed by a screening of the documentary film No Place Like Home: The Story of the Foundling Hospitalalso created as part of the Voices Through Time: The Story of Care programme. The film explores the lives of some of the 27,000 children who grew up at the Foundling Hospital between 1741 and 1954 and the desperate plight of the mothers who had to part with their children. 

There are historical links with the area of Hoxton, where several Foundlings were born or did their apprenticeships. Hoxton Hall, built in 1863, was chosen as the venue for the play’s premiere because it was contemporary with the Foundling Hospital. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the hall was the base for a charity helping young women. 

Young performer Keziah-Kae Mensah, 19, said: 

“I’m an actor and I’ve been in some other Voices Through Time projects, so I wanted to be involved. We got a lot done in a short time, but it was really fun. The storyline touches close to home. Plays aren’t something that we can always relate to as young care-experienced people, but this was really relatable to us. There are messages the play helps get across. Just because we grew up in care doesn’t mean that we don’t have a family. You can find family in anyone and anywhere.”

Young performer Maryam, 19, said:

“I’m feeling great. I think it went really well. I got along with all the people here and it’s been really nice getting to know them… I’m in care so I know how it feels to have chosen family – something that the play goes into. I think it’s important to get messages out about what it’s like to be in care. People don’t know about things like LAC reviews or the fostering process. They think it’s like Tracy Beaker!”

Dr Carol Homden, CEO of Coram, said:

“It was a huge privilege to witness this compelling performance by the young people as they explored their experiences of the care system and honoured the legacy of the children who grew up in Coram’s care in the Foundling Hospital. This play is an urgent reminder that while much has changed in the intervening centuries, we need to continue to champion the rights of care-experienced children and young people today.”

You can view images from their performance below.

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  • Photo by Astrobird
  • Photo by Astrobird