Meet the ODD squad
Manchester trainees are taking a creative look at their community with the help of a uniquely titled theatre troupe.
The ODD (Offender Development through Drama) Company has worked with Rathbone on a raft of artistic projects in the past. And they’re now turning their talents to a pilot programme which is using photography, art, music and drama to examine how young people fit into their neighbourhood.
One year on, the young people will be going into their communities and literally recording how residents in areas ravaged by the riots feel about teenagers now - and whether things have really changed for the better since summer 2011.
Sharrell Bennett and Lauren Paxton who are both taking part in the project.
Boxer Dave Evans is certainly making a good fist of the programme so far. He built a sculpture of a cigarette chopped in half to examine stereotypes and what lies inside in all of us. The 18 year-old from Clayton reckons, “Most people treat you alright where I live – but only if they know you! There’s nothing much to do here.”
In neighbouring Harpurhey, the new Factory Youth Zone is providing plenty for young people with climbing walls, five-a-side pitches and arts and media projects. That’s where the ODD Theatre Company is based for this eight-week project and both Brooke Burgess and Sharrell Bennett are benefiting.
The duo has both moved home recently and so fitting-into their new communities is a bit of a challenge. Brooke (18) believes her new home in Crumpsall (North Manchester) contrasts greatly to her previous life in Oldham. “It’s very different” she admits, “and there’s more going on for young people. I like being at Rathbone, it’s a change of scenery and I’m looking forward to the rest of the ODD Theatre project.”
Sharrell also shifted recently from Openshaw to Droylsden in the East of Manchester. Sociable Sharrell (also 18) has plenty of work experience with customers and wants to work on a reception desk one day and says: “Droylsden is very different from Openshaw. It’s much quieter but I want to make friends.”
Two very special guests at one of the Factory sessions were Rathbone work experience placements, Josh Chiles and Hollie Custy. From Lymm in Cheshire, 15-year-old Hollie commented: “It was great to speak to the young people who told us a bit about themselves.” Bury based Josh added: “It was interesting to hear about young people like Sharrell and how self-sufficient they are. The Factory is great – it’s so big and there’s so much to do!”
Rathbone trainees such as Manchester based Rebecca Calvert were very vocal following last year’s riots – and were clearly worried about how the actions of a minority tainted the image of teenagers. Some saw their communities damaged by the disturbances first-hand and have been involved in reviving them ever since.
To learn more about the ODD Theatre Company go to: http://oddtheatrecompany.com/
Story compiled by Josh Chiles and Hollie Custy