Whilst at the International Youth Arts Festival I had the privilege of going to see the thought-provoking ‘Just My Boy’, a production crafted by Leyton Sixth Form College.
The piece centred around youth violence and its entanglement with social inequality, aiming to look at the root cause of its rise. With a cast comprised of young people, ‘Just My Boy’ is a powerful call to action from the demographic most affected by this issue: young people.
The combined use of Physical Theatre and harrowing projected CCTV footage of youth violence was distressing yet necessary to convey the harsh reality of this growing societal problem. Early in the piece, parallels were drawn between knife crime today and that in Macbeth and how in both instances the desire to murder is driven by desire for power and respect amongst peers, emphasising how long this issue has really been around.
At one point in the piece, the young actors create caricatures of current politicians, parodying each of their opinions and attitudes towards youth violence and gang culture conveying how it is almost comedic how such a pressing issue is disregarded by the government and wider society.
The chilling verbatim used from those affected first-hand by youth violence further opened the eyes of the audience to the harsh reality of gang culture and its glamorization in today’s day and age through social media and music.
The use of spoken word at the end of the piece undoubtedly resonated with every audience member: ’26 hours in labour, and only 4 minutes to watch him die’. ‘Just My Boy’ gives a voice to marginalised communities directly affected by youth violence and its call to action will certainly stick with its audience for a long time.