Theatre group Company of Sirens has called on prisoners and young offenders to inform their new play that focuses on the “national emergency” of knife crime.
The Creature takes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as inspiration to delve into the origins of knife crime and anti-social behaviour and has used the experiences and prisoners to shape its narrative.
Through development work in prisons and secure units in central and south Wales, the theatre group used the practical sessions as well as discussions to build up an understanding of the motivations behind knife crime.
One of the inmates who assisted with the project said: “Carrying a knife often started as a way to avoid becoming a victim.
“Most of the people I spoke to who had carried a knife had been threatened, some on multiple occasions. Some had been attacked and a few had been severely injured.”
The Creature will be on show at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff from October 1-10, with a performance offering sign language on October 4.
The production will feature an original soundscape as well as music from outsider musician Daniel Johnston, who died last week, to soundtrack the powerful play’s attempts to get to the origins of youth violence.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Last year, the theatre group looked at responsibility with Wolf Tattoo.
Director Chris Durnall told The Big Issue: “The Creature explores the origins of knife crime and violence, offering its audiences several explanations for antisocial behaviour, all informed by work with young offenders and prison inmates. It seeks not to judge but to enlighten through the medium of a beautifully written and poetic piece of theatre.”
The production comes as West Midlands Police are defending their latest strategy to dismantle the culture that is seeing kids carry knives. Convicted murderer Sadam Essakhil shares his experiences of knife crime from prison in the hard-hitting new campaign video.
There were 43,516 offences involving knives in England and Wales between April 2018 and May 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics, which is an all-time high since records began in 2011.