‘FIGHT’ is a collaborative devised show between Battersea Arts Centre and Carney’s Community, directed by Evie Manning and Conrad Murray. It explores the struggles and frustrations of young people today while connecting this with the radical history of Battersea and current political climate for young people all over London.
During the process, we went to the Marx Memorial Library, the British Library and Manchester, where we visited Contact Theatre and The People’s History Museum. Travelling together allowed us to grow as a group; we had a lot of discussions between us, most of which touched on political issues that are often seen as things that young people are not interested in, or that what they contribute to the discussion isn’t relevant. It was inspiring for me as one of the older members of the group to see other young people talking about these issues and challenging the groups and their own perceptions.
We researched and pulled apart speeches from John Archer, the first ‘coloured man’ to be elected as Mayor of Battersea, Annie Besant, an activist who stood up for and promoted the struggle of the Match Stick Girls, and John Burns, a politician who worked to get better housing and living conditions for the working class around the Latchmere Estate. As well as the historical content, we also wrote our own material drawn from our own experiences- from soliloquy’s about working in McDonalds, to back-facing monologues about being put into isolation at school, and my very own ‘Letter To The Prime Minister’.
The performance was one of the highlights; sharing the work on stage after everything we had learnt felt exhilarating, and the Homegrown Festival was a perfect space for this as other young people were in the building and got to see our work and participate in the discussion. Our preparations at Carney’s were great; at the start we were using one of the rooms, playing drama games,and mulling over ideas and concepts, and after a while the show really came together. In our last rehearsals we utilised the physical boxing ring at Carney’s. It felt like the space had been opened up to us. It felt homely.
Each of our performances were filled with audiences young and old and from a variety of backgrounds. We received amazing feedback and praise, and I am so grateful to Battersea Art’s Centre, Carney’s Community, Heritage Lottery Fund and The Wandsworth Arts Fringe Festival for giving us the opportunity to share and create this work. Devising something like this was important as it allowed us to contribute our ideas to create something that felt refreshing to be a part of.
The main thing I have taken away from this project is this:
Young people have something important to say. If given the platform, the space and the opportunity, we will share, and you will listen.