Play helps show teens a way out of life in gangs

Croydon Guardian: The Girls is playing in Peckham The Girls is playing in Peckham

The lives of teenage actors with difficult childhoods have formed a stage play performed by the young people themselves.

Written and directed by BAFTA winner Ray Harrison Graham, The Girls shares the experiences of four first time actors, three from Croydon, whose own experiences unfold in their own words.

The young people were excluded from mainstream schools and sent to pupil referral units (PRUs).

Three of the young people met producer and administrator of the show Giles Stogdon, while he was working at the Phil Edwards Centre PRU, where The Project Theatre Company was set up.

The drama project helped them to work through their problems.

The experiences of the actors who play themselves, include 16-year-old Crystal Brown who was estranged from both parents at the age of 12, and found her place among Croydon's street gangs.

Also appearing is Princess Webb, 18, with an extreme temper who was kicked out of school for violent behaviour, and 21-year-old Nathan Roberts who after gaining a place at the BRIT school, was drawn back into gang life.

The play is set on the eve of the riots, where the group await a compulsory counselling session.

They know nothing about each other, but a common bond of distrust and hatred sees them unintentionally fall into their own counselling session, while waiting for the group leader.

Giles Stogdon, producer and administrator of the show said: "It is a powerful piece of drama that gives an insight into bits of life you don't normally see. There are really good stories in there.

"These kids have lived this stuff, most of us would never want to dream of it happening to us. They have lived through and seen more than most adults.

"It is their own words and experiences, that is what drama is made of."

The Girls is showing at the CLF Art Café in Peckham until September 29.

To book tickets contact the box office on 0208 1235391 or visit theproject.org.uk

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