CUNCH audio play will be released at the end of May!
CUNCH (slang word for County Lines – using young people to move drugs from big cities to rural towns) is a poetic audio play about female friendship, and young people’s connection to nature, told through a story of County Lines. This is inspired by and draws upon my work with teens affected by gang exploitation in Hackney and Tottenham, my personal love of nature, and interest in mythic understandings of our connection to the wild, as well as a real anger at the ways the countryside & nature can feel inaccessible, how we rob city children of their right to access it!
I’m very excited by this project!
The play is about Janie and Lolita two 15-year-old girls who are sent on a county lines trip by Janie’s ‘boyfriend’ when they get lost in ancient woodland in Sussex it becomes clear that Janie intends to run away and take Lolita with her. Both girls have complex learning needs, Janie is severely dyspraxia and Lolita has undiagnosed autism, but the story does not focus on this, centring on the girls changing friendship and how they are effected by their surroundings and the magical characters they meet, such as a homeless lady called Yaga who takes them to see magical Yew trees.
The Children’s Commissioner estimates 46,000 + children in England are involved in child exploitation & gang activity. Based on my work I believe more girls are involved than the statistics show. Manipulation of young people with diagnosed or undiagnosed neurodiversity is also a factor in child exploitation. I want to show characters that are nondiverse and intelligent, but due to lack of care from wider social systems have become exploited.
This play uniquely mixes gritty urban realism with the poetic and mystical. Told from a place of truth, its target audiences are hard to reach young people affected by gang violence and county lines. It is a unique take on an important current issue, focusing on girls rather than the media representation of males. I am positioning the protagonists not as victims but young people aspiring for self-determination and connection with themselves and nature.
CUNCH so far has been supported by Creative Youth Kingston allowing me to work with brilliant dramaturge Sarah Dickenson. I also worked at The Bush Theatre in there gorgeous room at the top where I wrote a first draft on a writers Allotment. Big up the Bush! And Big up trees!!! Now to get into the woods!