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In this blog, Benita, a care leaver who is currently working at the Children’s Commissioners office, shares with IMO her experience at The Big House’s latest production The Realness.

It was a pleasure to attend a recent performance of “The Realness” at The Big House. The Big House is an incredible organisation that works with young people who have been through the care system and are finding life difficult. They provide a platform for care-experienced people to participate in the making of theatre and to have their voices heard. 

The Realness was about a young man named Jay Johnson who is fresh out of prison and determined to not go back. Despite his efforts to remain on course, he finds himself taking a detour back in the wrong direction. Only when he is faced with a difficult decision, does he begin to realise what he must do to make a real difference in his life. The musical celebrates reggae, drill, and other genres. 

Shanice, Jay’s old girlfriend, does not wish to know, and Jay’s best job is sweeping the streets. He also finds out he recently shares a son with Shanice, Tyrone. In order to provide for Tyrone, he wants to be the best father he can be. The second chance he received from Shanice was also very important to him. Making a new start, he wishes to do the best for his family, but is in need of money. Consequently, he is tempted by an offer from the club owner, gang boss and drug runner Leroy, but things do not go according to plan. 

By the end of the musical, Jay has managed to escape the bad crowd and has devised a plan to turn from Leroy. Upon turning a new leaf, Jay decides to open a business. Additionally, he is living a happy life with his girlfriend Shanice and his son Tyrone.

My impression of Jay was that he is a character that is widely misunderstood. As he inserts himself with a bad crowd, it is evident that he wishes to break away from that environment. I actually believe that he is an individual with a great deal of heart, a person who cares about his family, and a person who is genuinely committed to succeeding in life. As I watched the musical, I found myself wanting Jay to succeed. It gave me hope.  

As well as tackling some key themes, this musical also represented what some young people face on a daily basis. This showed that many people face similar situations in life. Not everyone has a choice, and some may believe that the odds are stacked against them.  

As far as bringing awareness is concerned, I found this musical to be very informative, not only about teaching you to live a better life, but also about why the right foundations make all the difference in the world. Furthermore, it made me think that the Government should be providing more support for young people in general.  

As a whole, this musical was powerful, edgy, and engaging. There were times when I could not stop laughing! My memory of it is going to last a lifetime, and I will continue to tell others about. 

The Big House is just a great organisation, they work with young people who have been through the care system and are finding life difficult. By providing a platform for them to participate in the making of theatre, they ensure that their voices are heard. 

As part of my interview with some of the actors from The Realness production, I asked them what they gained from participating in the Big House. 

Here is what they had to say: 

“Prior to coming here, I had never even considered acting, I was working in the business. I came from the most chaotic situation. The vison they had in me was great. There has been more patience and time spent with me by everyone here” 

“I used to serve the drinks and hand out the tickets, so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to be a part of The Big House.”

“During this time, I have gained many friendships, and I feel like I am part of a community.” 

Find out more about The Realness and The Big House: and if you’re in London you have 2 nights left to see the production in person!

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