Arc news: June 2009

Neville Lawrence OBE welcomed as Patron of Arc Theatre

Arc welcomes Neville Lawrence OBE as its new Patron

Arc was delighted to hold a very special celebration event on Thursday 21 May, to officially welcome Neville Lawrence OBE as its new Patron.

The event at The Malthouse Studios in Barking included the official naming of the new Neville Lawrence Studio, the unveiling of a portrait of Neville by artist Julia St Clair Forde and a special performance of Arc's anti-knife crime play Boy X - the third in The Stereo Trilogy by Clifford Oliver.

The event was attended by over 100 guests including The Lawrence Family; Richard Taylor, father of Damilola Taylor; Nathan Levy, brother of Robert Levy; Commander Tony Eastaugh of Barking & Dagenham Police and Commander Steve Allen of the Metropolitan  Police.

Arc was also delighted to read a special message from The Attorney General, The Rt Hon The Baroness Scotland QC, who said; "There is a connection between the Macpherson Report and Arc Theatre.  At one level we can see the connection in a person, namely your Patron, Stephen's father, Neville Lawrence. At another level, there is a connection because the Macpherson Report was a report for change... And your drama, your theatre, is theatre for change... It is truly inspirational work, coming from the community and working directly with the community.  It sets up the meaningful dialogue we desperately need if yet more young people are not lost to us." 

Photograph above: Neville Lawrence OBE, Patron of Arc, pictured with Michael Ainsworth (Arc's Chair of Board); Deputy Mayor of Barking & Dagenham Councillor Emmanuel Obasohan; Carole Pluckrose (Arc's Artistic Director and CEO) and the cast of Boy X from left to right: Michael Kofi, Lee Vassell, Tendayi Jembere and Jordan Barrett.


Find out more about Boy X by Clifford Oliver.

Download full Boy X Briefing Document (PDF, 924k)


Message from Neville Lawrence OBE, Patron of Arc:

"It has been a real pleasure for me to work with the people from Arc over the past eight years. They are brilliant at getting the right message across in a way that audiences, especially young people, really respond to and want to have more of. When I come out of an Arc performance I feel full of hope for the future. The subject of their plays can be powerful and emotional and you know they are really getting through to young people. My wish for them is that they get much more support in sharing this work with even more people, as I believe it can truly make a difference."


Article by Colin Holmes, Editor of About My Area, 26 May 2009:

"Looking at this painting I can see the evident pain in my eyes and I don't want another family to go through the pain I felt."

Those were the words of Neville Lawrence OBE, as he unveiled the portrait of himself at Arc Theatre, Barking. The portrait had been painted by Julia St Clair Forde, which Arc had installed  in honour of their new Patron.

The guests were able to see the portrait of Arc's new Patron during the ceremony to dedicate The Neville Lawrence Studio, before settling down to  watch a performance of 'Boy X'. This play, written by Clifford Oliver and directed by Carole Pluckrose, is a story of hope, personal responsibility, imagination and the power to change. This was followed by a summary by actor Michael Kofi in which he hoped that we found it thought-provoking. He then invited comments from the audience at a Question and Answer time.    

During question time, the actors were asked what they thought could be done to stop the killings.  The actors agreed that there was no easy way.  It would take everyone working together; the young and the old. As one of the actors put it; "If you take away my knife or gun you will need to replace it with something more powerful." Yet whilst the young can speak into the situation, it is the older generation who have the means to ensure that the word reaches those who need to hear it.

"Don't let your friend, sister, brother or mother become a statistic before you do something."

Tony Eastaugh, Barking and Dagenham's Chief Commander of Police, said it was the most powerful play he had ever seen and he promised to do all he could to ensure that 'Boy X' got the promotion it deserved.

After the play Carole Pluckrose, Artistic Director and CEO of Arc, introduced Neville Lawrence. She spoke of the long relationship between the theatre and Neville. This, she said, had begun in 2001 when they worked together on the production of a video version of Clifford Oliver's play 'My England'. The play, which explored issues of race and justice, became a top-selling education resource and is still in use in classrooms across the country today.

Neville addressed the assembled guests, explaining that today marked a significant change as today the focus was on him - rather than as the father of Stephen. Not that the pain was any less than it had been at the time, or was when 'My England' had been commissioned.  His desire is to work with Arc, and to use his position to open doors for them to reach young people. He is determined to prevent other parents from feeling the pain that was so evident in the portrait.

In particular, he wants as many young people as possible to see 'Boy X'. This play, also by Clifford Oliver, powerfully depicts the senseless killing of young people. Something that has become all too common in our communities.

Talking to the guests at the end, one guest asked; "But what can I do? I am just one person!"  Another guest replied; "We all have a part to play and telling people about 'Boy X' is a good way to start."


Article from Barking & Dagenham Recorder, 1 June 2009:

THE father of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has praised a theatre company behind a series of powerful plays aimed at steering youths away from crime.

Neville Lawrence, whose son's death in 1993 led to the Metropolitan Police being branded institutionally racist, was unveiled as Patron of Arc Theatre, Abbey Road, Barking, on Thursday evening.

He said he was filled with hope after watching a performance by the theatre company, which produced the 'Stereo' play trilogy highlighting gun, knife and youth crime.

The human rights campaigner was joined at the event by relatives and Richard Taylor, whose 10-year-old son, Damilola, was murdered in Lambeth in 2000.

'Stereo' playwright Clifford Oliver described Mr Lawrence, who is regarded as a beacon for justice and equality, as a "hero, inspiration and friend".

Arc, celebrating its 25th anniversary, named a performance space after Mr Lawrence and a portrait of him was unveiled by artist Julia St Clair Forde.

The ceremony and performance of the third 'Stereo' play, 'Boy X', was also attended by Barking and Dagenham Police commander Chief Supt Tony Eastaugh and Deputy Mayor Cllr Emmanuel Obasohan.

Mr Lawrence said: "When I come out of an Arc performance, I feel full of hope for the future. The subject of their plays can be powerful and emotional and you know they are really getting through to young people. My wish for them is that they get much more support."

Mr Oliver said: "Everyone at Arc is proud to have worked with him and it's great to have this opportunity to celebrate his courage and strength."

Michael Ainsworth, Chair of Arc's Board said: "Neville Lawrence has been a real source of inspiration and motivation to Arc. The Lawrence Report 10 years ago led to real reforms in the Criminal Justice System. 'Boy X' has ambitions to do the same without the necessity of a further tragedy prompting action."

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