Sixteen – A new site-specific play by Helena Thompson

Kensal House, July – August 2009

Directed by Pheobe Barran

Cast: Chloe Watkinson, Hoda Bentaher, Jean Marie Coffey, Mark Frost Leonie Charles

It’s sixteen years since October was born into a squat in Kensal House. Now that the squat is becoming legitimate, she’s desperate to celebrate. But the locals are suspicious; she has bruises all over her body and seems unusually close to her father – is this a party or a cover up?

Sixteen was written at the National Theatre Studio and supported by the Gate Theatre. It featured a distinguished and experienced professional cast, and also gave SPID youth theatre graduate Chloe Watkinson her first professional role. Supporting parts were played by other members of the youth company, challenging them with new responsibilities and introducing them to professional working methods as part of their continued, hands-on training at SPID.

The Stage said:

“Sixteen is an unforgettable social and theatrical experience…

 SPID specialises in site-specific theatre and it’s a very powerful tool. By staging this play in the heart of a real-life council estate, when the Kensal Youth Club comes under attack from angry youths outside, the audience sat around the performance space on old sofas and mattresses, feel just as vulnerable as the characters. The environment forces the spectators to become part of the action and removes the usual comfort blanket of being a bystander…

Sixteen is violent, emotional and uncomfortable. All the things a play sometimes needs to be. You go to the theatre to be removed from your world and transported elsewhere. This really does that’

To read the full Stage review, click here

The Independent on Sunday said:

“On the night I attended, chino-clad punters – way out of their comfort zone – were having to argue their way into the show, past a bunch of hooded youths who loitered at the door, giving verbal cheek and violently slamming against the security shutters covering the windows. Rather wonderfully, that all became part of the show. And what a delight, being seated on old sofas and matresses on wheels which are shunted around wildly between scenes. I’d give that a whirl again.”

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