The Melodramatic Elephant stall was sitting next to the real thing at the launch of the Elephant Park. When I say real, I mean the lovely large sculpture that was being coloured over by children and which I have my eye on as a potential set design feature for The Melodramatic Elephant in the Haunted Castle; a play that will be staged at the Coronet on the 8 November 2017.
It took a while for people to find their way into the nice new park located in what was formerly the Heygate Estate. But as with all our community engagement, it was a pleasure to meet friendly residents of Southwark and to learn about their experiences of the area and the Coronet in particular.
We were also adjacent to the Superarts Academy and their young artistes put on a great song and dance act later on in the afternoon. I had a chance to chat to Sandra Salmon who shared her memories of the ABC cinema which was the previous manifestation of the Coronet. She vividly recalled seeing the Sound of Music when it first came out in 1965. As a child she was part of the ABC Minors club and recalled the singing and dancing that took place on the stage in conjunction with the screenings. The ABC was the only cinema she went to at this young age because it was reasonably priced. Sandra also mentioned how kids would get into the cinema illicitly, when one of the lads bought a ticket and then let friends in via the fire exit door. Favourite films include those Hollywood classics, Ben Hur and My Fair Lady. Her abiding memory of the cinema was that it was part of a happy childhood with friends and family; when she meets up with friends they still talk about those good old cinematic days. Sandra regretted that there is no cinema in the Elephant and Castle area. However there is talk of a new cinema as part of the redevelopment of the shopping centre and Coronet site which is scheduled to take place in the few years.
Janie Hughes also shared her memories of the cinema. The first film she recalled watching was Grease in 1978. Unlike Sandra, she mainly visited the Odeon which was directly across the road from the ABC on New Kent Road. She's not a fan of horror, but Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ticked all the boxes and are all time favourites. Once again she had such positive memories of going to the cinema especially Saturday morning screenings for children.
Janie's grandkids were in the meantime making imaginative use of oil pastels. I particularly liked the happy Unicorn in a land of technicolour rainbows. Now that sounds like a character from a science-fiction film that Janie would like to see.
Next up to take the drawing challenge were Edward and Ivy. Edward screened The Emoji movie at the Coronet with three characters, Gene, Hi-5 and Jailbreak going on an adventure to save their kingdom. One was cleverly constructed by drawing around his hand. Ivy did a self-portrait in a scene with an exploding sun. Very dramatic! With a little bit of crafting, both would make great posters for films.
The final two drawings were made by Emine and Nahome.
Emine told me she came to England in 1967 and promptly made a flag of her motherland, Cyprus. I think she is a gardener. The two flowers must be symbolic of home, old and new.
Nahome made a powerful cinematic image that fizzes with energy. He wrote on the back of his picture: "It was night time and the green lantern was fighting some villan. Winner!!! Hero Green Lantern."
To bring the Coronet's history bang up to clubbing date, we also had these reflections from Emma Darkins and Ricky Lawton.
Emma: "I've lived in the Elephant and Castle for the past six years and the Coronet is one of my favourite clubs in London. The last time I went was a Bowie Tribute night. All people young and old celebrating a beautiful and unique person in a unique venue. The Coronet is such a classic London venue. So sad to see it go!"
Ricky: "Throughout my time at the E&C, the Coronet had been my go-to late night final destination. Many a Saturday night / Sunday morning have I arrived at 3am asking for half price entry. "But you're closing in 3 hours!" "No can do Bruv." Fair enough. It was worth it anyway. Great nights. Reach for the stars. The sky never seemed so high as the enormous rooftops of the Coronet."
Thank you, Emma and Ricky, for sharing those personal memories.
Reflecting the views of artists, actors, residents
and participants in
The Melodramatic Elephant in the Haunted Castle.
An art project about the Coronet from 1872-2017.
Past present future
Music and animation
Euan Vincent on Horror
Tiberius Chis on Chaplin
Final Curtain Call
Directing and acting
Jacko at the Coronet?
Ale and steak pies
This Is Where I Came In
Pollock's Toy Museum
Adventure with the Mayor
Reach for the stars
Ghost of Marie Henderson
Shop till the zombie drops
Faith, Hope and Charity
Singing and sketching
History and legacy
Dark Side of Metropolis
Interview with Sam Porter
Blood and Thunder
Culture and Capital