Young people excluded from school are prone to join street gangs and descend into a life dominated by knife-crime, drug dealing and prison. This hard-hitting theme is the core of a new play produced by Mandala Theatre Company.
Provisionally titled ‘Pipeline’ it is being developed by Mandala’s Artistic Director Yasmin Sidhwa and will go into production in 2020 with a full UK tour currently being planned. The play is inspired by academic research which reveals that 42% of prison inmates were excluded from school and explores the pipeline between education, exclusion and prison. Its main character ‘Tachia’ is reluctantly drawn into committing a gang related knife crime.
Sidhwa also believes there is a link to new research suggesting a growing link between cuts to youth services and the country’s knife crime epidemic.
“Analysis of council youth service budgets and knife crime data since 2014 has found areas suffering the largest spending cuts on youth services have seen bigger increases in knife crime”, Yasmin said.
Figures obtained by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Knife Crime show the average council has cut real-term spending on youth services by 40% over the past three years. Some local authorities have reduced their spending – which funds services such as youth clubs and youth workers – by 91%.
There was a 68% increase in knife offences recorded by police in England and Wales over almost the same period (from 25,516 in the year ending March 2014 to 42,790 in the year ending September 2018). At the same time 750 youth centres have closed.
“The responses from young people in our ‘Pipeline’ workshops are heart-breaking”, Yasmin added. “The odds are stacked against young people in Britain today and it is increasingly difficult for them to reach their true potential.”
Written by Avaes Mohammad,‘Pipeline’ is the final part of a touring trilogy of new play writing Mandala Theatre Company has realised. It started three years ago with Nightlight and continued last year with Castaways.