Play gives young people insight on violence against women

The group of young people with cast member Tamzin Outhwaite

The group of young people with cast member Tamzin Outhwaite - Credit: Brighter Futures

This article has been published as part of Newham Council's Year of the Young Person, which celebrates the achievements of young people and highlights the services and support aimed at them.  

Nineteen young people learned about violence against women through a special performance written by an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. 

Newham Council’s Youth Empowerment Service – part of its Brighter Futures scheme – invited the group of youngsters to see Maryland by Lucy Kirkwood.

Ms Kirkwood, who was born and raised in east London, felt compelled to write the play following the killings of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, which sparked a movement to eradicate violence against women.

Theatre Royal Stratford East staged the performance on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, at Stratford Youth Zone, with a cast including former young mayor of Newham Alex Jarrett, and former EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite.

It came at the start of the council’s 16-day campaign on gender-based violence.

Zahra Maalow, senior youth worker, said: “This play gave an opportunity for discussion and debate about this important issue. It also encouraged young people to open up and voice their concerns."

Youth worker Joshua Anyanwu, who also facilitated discussions after the performance, described it as “insightful, thought-provoking and challenging”.

He added: “Sounds symbolising a woman going through pain were difficult to hear and had a profound effect on the group. They really understood the importance of the play.”

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One of the young people, Ella, expressed her concern that some perpetrators of violence against women are in positions of power when “they are supposed to protect us”.

Fellow group member Bynum added: “This play showed how the feelings and concerns of victims are sometimes ignored.”

Brandon said men need to "change in our approach to this issue", while Keb encouraged more men to go and see the play.

Another youth worker, Sureyya Demetriou, said: “Young people left the performance with an abundance of emotions while feeling inspired to speak out against gender-based violence."

Anyone who feels unsafe or needs help should contact 999, 101 or Childline on 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk

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