Meet Panlight, a Child of Expansion
1st December 2017
There are those moments when you realise something special has just happened. Amongst all the ups and downs of working with people who are new to performance, who are learning to trust their creativity and themselves, who may find it difficult to commit to attending or being part of a group, when it clicks, it is magnificent.
And so it was, on a cold November night in Birmingham, in Oaklands Youth Centre, such a little miracle happened – a new performance company run by and for local young people – and Panlight gave its first show.
Like all such events it doesn’t really happen by magic – a lot of long hard work went into this process and a lot of inspiration and belief kept it alive. And this was exactly what we at Pan had hoped for. For over a year our mega-facilitator, Zephryn, had worked with local young people on how they can enjoy making theatre while addressing the realities and issues they face in their daily lives. One of his tasks, and one of our key ambitions, was to train two local young people to become artist-facilitators and finally take over the running of the group.
Triziell and Kharima were more than willing to rise to that challenge. Not only did they absorb the skills needed, they set up a new group – Panlight, which will now have a life of its own as Pan’s investment in training comes to an end. It will soon tour other Birmingham youth centres to recruit more members and we look forward to all its future work.
And what do they do? Well their first performance was a high energy mix of dance and drama and the scenes opened up on subjects of relationships, speed dating, images and stereotypes perpetuated through TV chat shows and so much more. Perhaps most moving was a series of scenes which dropped the “pazzaz” and went from questions asked by a masseuse when she noticed bruises on a client’s body, through to four women in four chairs answering questions about their relationship experiences. An offstage voice asked the questions and they answered one by one, covering the first meeting with their “man” through to the harsh realities of their present and what they now wanted. It was simple, hard hitting and clearly informed by things they knew about. Stunning.
This mix of jokiness, satire and hard reality really grabbed their local audience. I am sure it will affect many more in the same way.
Good Luck Panlight, and well done!