Last summer's riots have tarnished the reputation of a generation. Three months afterwards, almost half of the 2,000 adults surveyed by children's charity Barnardo's believed children in the UK were becoming “feral” and “behaving like animals.” Meanwhile, an independent panel's interim report found children themselves felt demonised.
Yet their voices have gone largely unheard; something the Polka Theatre for Children is seeking to rectify with Sticks & Stones, a verbatim piece, which will then go on tour.
“Even children as young as eight or nine had a very clear and nuanced understanding of what sparked the riots,” says playwright Ali Taylor, who spent six months conducting workshops around the country with children aged seven to 17, “They knew about Mark Duggan. They had a balanced view of the police response and of some of the social issues around the riots.”
Many of his interviewees, particularly in London, had witnessed the disorder firsthand, either on the streets or from bedroom windows.
'Sticks & Stones', Polka Theatre, London, SW19 (polkatheatre.com) until 27 October.