Resilient streams: Safe @HackneyEmpire
Titling a piece "Safe" at the moment evokes all sorts of meanings. Is it about going out in London? Is it about social distancing and testing? Is it about the latest vaccine? But don't one needs not have a pandemic. Here, safe is about the basic need for young people to grow up in a safe and supportive environment. Particularly when they are discovering that they lesbian, gay, bi, trans or queer.
In this verbatim piece, writer Alexis Gregory weaves together a series of stories about the lives of young people and the fine line between being accepted and being on the street. The young people are trying to find their identity while their families, religion, race and class are forcing them to be categorised, classified and standardised into something else.
Taken from interviews with young people met through the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) with live music and additional words by poet Yrsa Daley it sets out how easy it can be to fall into poverty, abuse and addiction without the right opportunities support and acceptance. According to AKT charity, a quarter of all homeless or at-risk youth identify as LGBTQ+.
It's compelling and told with conviction by the young cast. Sounds, lighting, and quick edits support the central message of young people rediscovering their potential. And while it's a struggle for survival, this one is also hopeful for the future.
Safe launches tonight online via the Hackney Empire site and Youtube. The free stream is in partnership with Hackney Empire and supported by Park Theatre, with funding from Arts Council England.
There's also an online launch event and 'post-show talk, with hosts and guests alongside the cast and creative team. The premiere stream is at 7 pm, followed by the event at 8 pm.
Directed Alexis Gregory and Hosted on the Hackney Empire website and on Youtube, Safe is available to stream from tonight.
Photos by Jane Hobson