My new play My Boy Danny tells the story of a mother’s struggle to come to terms with the death of her teenage son. It examines the need for her questions to be answered, not only about what happened, but about the mysterious stranger who’s been watching her every night.
The play is produced by my small independent company, Alfie James Productions, which I started to explore issues affecting society and to promote positive social change. As well as performing, I also create community theatre projects to support vulnerable people. These have included The Black Dog Theatre Creation, helping adults with low confidence, and the Story Box Community Theatre Project working with older members of the community helping them to remain physically and mentally active.
Back to the play: I originally wrote My Boy Danny, which runs for three days in Kentish Town’s Lion & Unicorn theatre this month, to form part of a free educational package to raise awareness of gang-knife crime and hate crime towards members of the LGBTQ community. Both have seen an alarming increase in statistics in the past few years. I strongly believe that performance techniques can be used as a powerful tool in bringing about positive social change.
Due to Covid, we weren’t able to do the play live which put a spanner in the works. Refusing to be disheartened, we then set about creating an audio version via Zoom from our own living rooms. None of us had done anything like it before, and what proceeded was a wonderful four-month journey of learning about the ins and outs of this new medium, learning how to use Zoom and overcoming challenges of creating sound effects, adapting dialogue and relying upon our voices as our only acting device. In short, a great learning experience.
The audio play went live, and we quickly received a string of positive reviews; one hailed it as a “powerful and poetic piece of writing which is a relevant song for our society today”. It was also deemed a success by audience members for its realism and sensitivity.
Things continued to get better: I was blown away when we received Arts Council Funding to develop the piece into a stage play, and support from both Stonewall and The Southwark Well-being Hub to further our educational materials.
Rehearsals have been going exceptionally well and I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and dedicated cast, which includes Kitty Whitley, Ben Kinsman and Atarah, all pictured above. In fact I still can’t quite believe how my little play, written to support schools and the community, is now being performed at the wonderful Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town’s leafy Gaisford Street.
My Boy Danny is at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre from 11th-13th October. Tickets £13/ £11 can be purchased here