The Arsenal Foundation is working with acclaimed local company Almeida Theatre on PLAY ON, a new community project for young people in Islington.
Home to 15,000 children living in out-of-work families, the borough has the second highest level of child poverty in London.
The project, funded by the UK premier league football club, will see 40 participants work with four professional playwrights, Leo Butler, Steven Camden (Polarbear), Charlotte Josephine and Somalia Seaton, over the course of six weeks.
Participants will develop short plays and monologues based on their own life experiences, and the themes raised in emerging playwright Leo Butler’s Boy, a 21st century London coming-of-age story playing at Almeida until 28 May.
The resulting works will then be presented by professional directors and actors on 2-3 May, on the set of Boy at Almeida Theatre. Young people will also be invited via a variety of partner organisations, including Tomorrow’s People and Arsenal in the Community, to participate in Answers Back, a panel discussion led by young people for young people.
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager, said: ‘Football can be a little bit the same as the theatre, because it has the power to bring happiness to young people and make them dream of what is possible. We are proud to be involved in this special project, and to be a positive force in our local community too.’
Alan Sefton, head of Arsenal in the Community, added: ‘We’re delighted that Arsenal in the Community has partnered with Almeida Theatre on the PLAY ON project. We have been working with young people in Islington for over 30 years to engage them in sport and education, and this is an exciting new chapter in our work.’
Participants will be drawn from Arsenal in the Community’s sport, education and social programmes in the borough.
The Almeida participation team aims to work with 3,000 young people a year to create opportunities and pathways for children and young people aged five to 25 and is led by director of participation Dani Parr.