Theatre-goers know that a great play can alter your worldview, but it’s rarely as genuinely life-changing as the Future Stage Company, a scheme run by Generation Arts, a project committed to transforming young, disadvantaged people through theatre.
The project takes young adults aged 19+ who are classed as NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and offers them high quality acting and theatre-making training. It’s a much needed project in an industry that is overwhelming, and seemingly increasingly, white and privileged (both on and off stage).
Dirty Special Thing is the culmination of nine months of the cast – Future Stage Company members – being put through their acting paces. It had a four night run at the impressive Platform Theatre, Central Saint Martin’s very own stage.
Dirty Special Thing proves that Generation Arts is far more than just a worthy experiment. There is genuine talent on display in this ensemble piece, an original production that follows the interlinking lives of everyday Londoners. At the heart of the piece – like a human Charing Cross – is a young taxi driver, on the cusp of passing the Knowledge and gaining his Green badge. There are several set pieces, following individuals from different walks of life as their lives criss-cross – and eventually collide (quite literally).
There was a great deal to recognise in the characters – the lost kid in care inspired to study by a great teacher, a self-obsessed City boy, a frazzled carer – and while the stories Dirty Special Thing told didn’t wander too far from stereotypes, all the parts were well-grounded in reality and reflected this town in ways theatre rarely does.
And while the story itself might not be radical, this is important theatre and it’s good to see progression especially at a time of savage arts cuts. Many of the cast have gained places at acclaimed drama schools and universities, a path that I’m sure many of them were never sure they’d be in a position to follow and I won’t be surprised to see some of these faces again in the not too distance future.
by Suzanne Elliott