Audiences were enraptured by the successful and hard-hitting debut performance of ‘Rapture’, this year’s Council run youth arts theatre production which was performed in Whitechapel at the beginning of April.
Written and directed by ‘A’ Team Arts tutor and drama specialist Dr Canan Sali (Arts Without Borders) as a modern day interpretation of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’, the strapline, ‘You see a hijab, I see a rapper’, says it all. The play features a young, female, Muslim protagonist and the relevant contemporary issues around radicalisation, identity, gender and familial expectation.
The three night run at the Brady Arts Centre was a precursor to the show being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. It uses the medium of rap and spoken word to tell a story about how young people can get their true voice heard, both amongst and beyond their own generation. The audience responses to the show prove how well that story was delivered.
The performances were well attended by families, friends, local councillors and teachers supporting their young people, and feedback was both positive and useful for future rewrites aimed at an Edinburgh audience.
Audience member Reece Connolly stated, ‘This is shining a much needed light on difficult, meaty issues that must be tackled using the voices of those it’s affecting most’. Muhona Ali added ‘A quiet person doesn’t have to have a quiet mind… belief and religion shouldn’t tie a person down’.
Another member of the audience, Queen Mary University drama tutor Ali Campbell wrote a heartfelt review of the piece which can be summarised by the following excerpts, ‘Excellent show…seriously clever twist on Cyrano de Bergerac…. I was faced with the disheartening complexity all youth in the UK are facing; Muslim youth perhaps doubly so… I was so moved… Awesome…. I am thrilled that 2 of my students are doing work experience on the show.’
And Head of the council’s Arts Parks and Events Team Steve Murray said, ‘It was obvious that this very young cast of mainly 14-16 year olds took great ownership of the piece which came through in their performances… I can’t believe this is the first time some have performed on stage.’
The young people who took part are all Tower Hamlets based and aged from 14-20 years old including the technical crew. Their dedication and talent was clear to see and those who didn’t make it should keep an eye on www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/arts for details of future performances in the borough. They did us proud!