‘A’ Team Arts runs youth arts programmes for young people in the very culturally diverse borough of Tower Hamlets in London. Performed by young people whose ages range from 14-16, Rapture explores the importance of identity and passion, and what it feels like to fall short of familial expectation.
The story follows AJ, a young Muslim woman who is a talented lyricist that loves rap music. Her words are bold and truthful, and her passion for writing about her experiences relates to people. But because of her faith and her father’s discouragement of listening to rap music, she is forced to write rap lyrics that can only be performed by her best friend Sam. When her brother’s friend Al, a successful music producer, is interested in Sam’s talent, AJ is forced to confront her fears and embrace her love for music.
With no formal training, it is the excitement and enjoyment of the performers that makes Rapture so enjoyable. The ensemble work very well together, and take real ownership of the piece. The subjects discussed in the play are those that most of them have faced in real life so it is poignant that they are able to tell their own stories. However the inclusion of scenes depicting female characters fighting for the attention of the boys feels awkward. In a play that showcases a story about a talented young girl, it isn’t necessary to include a love interest to keep the story engaging, her passion is enough to do that. It would have also been interesting to delve more into the character of Hasan, who his friends believe has become radicalised, which is another thought-provoking topic.
As a piece of work performed by young people, I think Rapture is entertaining, energetic and great fun to watch. As a piece of new writing, I think if some of the troubled characters are developed further, this show will be a valuable theatre piece that can be showcased in schools to explain tolerance and acceptance.
Find out more about ‘A’ Team Arts.