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Kensal Youth (2006)

Kensal Youth – A new promenade play by Helena Thompson

Kensal House, 2006

Directed by Rachel Grunwald

Assistant Director Nnenna Samson

Sound Design by Benjamin Esterson

Max is dead. Who’s to blame? A dark tale of suicide, revenge… and Bluetooth.

Kensal Youth was SPID’s first community show, created after young people on the estate asked to get involved with our work during the rehearsals and performances of Open House [LINK], our first show at Kensal House.

Our professional production team worked with 12 young people aged 11-21 from the Kensal House estate and other areas in London to produce this pioneering ‘wraparound theatre’ piece, funded by the Arts Council, the Lottery and the local borough. The show was subsequently adapted into an award-winning feature film, Happyslap .

Seen through the eyes of Akeem, a young boy whose best friend committed suicide following a campaign of cyber-bullying, Kensal Youth dislocates time, memory and perception in an exploration of peer pressure, guilt, betrayal and the use of technology in teenager’s lives.

The audience was allowed free roam throughout the centre as they listened to Akeem’s thoughts amplified on hidden surround sound speakers in every room, and watched the centre flash into life all around them as he reviewed his memories of his friend.

This piece started SPID on a journey from which we haven’t looked back. The cast’s enthusiasm for creating theatre which explodes around their audience has informed all our work and principles since. Many of the young people in Kensal Youth have remained with the company and taken roles in subsequent productions as actors, designers, stage managers and assistant directors. One cast member has since ‘graduated’ to work with SPID professionally on Sixteen.