Published 3 July 2019
The County Lines interactive theatre project led by the Brewery Arts Centre, laying bare the dangers of exploitation and County Lines drug dealing has been hailed as a success by both participants and teachers. One thousand and thirty five students and approximately 30 schools staff saw the performance, delivered by the Applied Theatre in Cumbria project in Kendal and Barrow.
The project was run through the South Cumbria Community Safety Partnership and was aimed at combating the increasing problem of exploitation and County Lines, which sees drugs gangs from cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, London and Liverpool targeting the vulnerable, including young people, to sell drugs.
Students entered unusual venues for a theatre performance and found themselves immediately entering a world of false promises and enticing propositions that led to disastrous consequences for the young actors who mixed amongst the audience throughout and moved them from room to room.
One student from Queen Elizabeth School described it as “…fantastic and at some points I thought it was real.” and another from Furness Academy said “I really enjoyed it, the actors made everything seem real…I have never attended a performance quite like this, moving around from scene to scene with the actors and having them in our crowd talking to us was actually awesome and very unique.” A teacher from Dowdales School commented “An excellent production yet again…a very powerful message from a great cast and very engaging for year 9. Thanks for inviting us to take part.”
Three young professional actors (Rachael Gill, Jack Lloyd and Elijah Young) performed with two graduates from Brewery Youth Arts – Lydia Davies and Niamh Barlow.
The creative team was made up of director Paula Penman and writer Lee Mattinson, an award-winning playwright originally from Workington, as well as sound designer Lee Affen and filmmaker Jon Randall.
Peter McCall, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This is a hard-hitting project which really brings home the realities of County Lines crime and the appalling impact it can make on young people, who are most at risk of being caught up in this type of organised crime.”