'This is our reality as teenagers': students take gang culture to the stage

It is three hours after the end of school on a Friday evening and deep in the bowels of Harris Academy Peckham, south-east London, 20 year 10 students are singing, rapping and dancing in a blacked-out rehearsal room. Their music sounds like an acoustic rendering of a Stormzy track and the lyrics talk of the perils of stop and search, peer pressure and gang culture.

The group is almost exclusively made up of BAME students and this piece, The Endz, is due to be performed at the end of the month, with Peckham arts initiative The Multi-Story Orchestra, in local theatres. The hour-long performance was developed from a 15-minute music class exercise and is partly inspired by the fatal stabbing of former Harris Academy pupil Malcolm Mide-Madariola in 2018.

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 06/03/20]