If you want to improve relations with your teenager in just 90 minutes, take them to see PHOENIX at the Big House Theatre in Hackney. This is a remarkable play performed by young people who have been in care, relating with brutal honesty what it can feel like to lose parents and then to lose the care system itself before they are really grown up. It helps all of us, young and old to remember how lucky we are to be able to keep family together at all.
Phoenix tells the story of Latitia, just 16 who has been moved into single temporary accommodation by her social worker, with no family or friends to support her. But she has a talent. She can run fast enough to make it into the British Athletics team if she can train properly. But lack of self belief as well as some of the other lost characters she meets, pull her in different directions.
The play takes place in a large warehouse at Hackney Down Studios in Amhurst Terrace. We are moved around from scene to scene in a promenade performance, drawn into Latitia’s world. It’s cool, powerful, moving and at times very funny. It will trigger a conversation with your teenager you never knew you could have. But what is truly remarkable about this new charity, launched earlier this year by the director Maggie Norris, is that this charity uses theatre to help young people cope emotionally, psychologically and socially as they leave care. Then by performing to those of us who are luckier to have been born into greater privilege and stability, they open up their hidden world to us all. The Big House helps them, but it also helps us to help them.
Every teenager I have ever met is altruistic, idealistic and keen to make the world a better place. The selfish, narcissistic stereotype is a cruel myth born of our ignorance around adolescent development. Uniting with them by trying to help those who have so much less love in the world than we do, will do wonders for family relations and help a charity in desperate need of funds to be able to carry on with this essential work. So please see PHOENIX before it finishes on December 14th. http://www.bighousetheatre.org.uk