by Flora Newbigin, Programme Delivery Manager at Cardboard Citizens
BRIC Arts in Brooklyn pulled a full house this week for the first performance of 99 Problems, the latest Forum play devised and performed by the troupe at Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.). The piece highlighted the multiple pressures faced by young people in NYC today and the challenge of finding someone to talk to who actually wants to listen.
Teachers making unrealistic demands, parents who only ever see the mistakes you make, guidance counselors who never listen, and boyfriends who only think about themselves were just some of the barriers are main character, Jada, faces in her struggle to hold things together and get to college. And all this whilst also trying to keep off the slippery slope of drugs and gun violence; the odds look pretty stacked against Jada getting what she needs.
As ever, the Spect-Actors at BRIC rose to the challenge. With lots of young people in the audience, we had a rich discussion on issues that a lot of people could connect with. Interventions focused on how the people around Jada could step in earlier along the line reminding us that collectively we can make a difference to the lives of those around us and our communities as a whole.
Alongside 99 Problems, there was a screening of a music video created by young people as part of a project between Urban Art Beat and YO S.O.S. The lyrics of the track were a call to action from young people to come together to challenge gun violence. The evening was an affirmation of the power of youth voice and the arts as a platform to shout about things that matter. Music, film and theatre, created, performed and facilitated by an impressive group of young artist activists!