Joel Campbell (The Voice Online) writes about actors Mathias André and CJ Webley, who will lead the Lightpost Theatre Company to continue “creating forward thinking productions.” André (shown above) says, “Lightpost is not just a theatre company it’s a movement.”
MATHIAS ANDRE and CJ Webley, two previous members of Lightpost Theatre Company, have now successfully been employed in leadership roles.
In 2015, Birmingham Repertory Theatre took part in an initial pilot scheme Up My Street, a partnership project funded by Mind, to help strengthen mental health in young black men through theatre. This scheme was developed in response to statistics that show young black men in the UK are much more likely to develop serious mental illness than any other demographic.
Motivated by the scheme, participants formed Lightpost Theatre Company.
Addressing the effects of racism, discrimination, negative self-image and invisibility, Lightpost Theatre Company helps to strengthen the mental health resilience and wellbeing of those involved, improve self-belief, raise mental health awareness, assist personal development, and encourage inclusion and friendship.
With three years’ funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, Lightpost Theatre Company has since welcomed hundreds of participants aged 18-26 from across the West Midlands who have gone on to create their own productions, perform to sell-out audiences, gain employment and training within the industry and create new leaders for a new generation of members.
CJ said “It has always been the goal for Lightpost Theatre Company to create new Leaders. Because we understand what these young men experience outside of the company, we can help to empower them and support resilience against perceived and proven barriers including lack of opportunity, racism and related stresses.”
Mathias added: “Lightpost is not just a theatre company it’s a movement. This is an experience like no other. If you are an 18-26 young male of black heritage and have a keen interest in theatre, then you should join us. Don’t allow others to write the narrative for you. Get yourself in the room and take ownership, you deserve to be here as much as everyone else.”
Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, Alex Summers, Creative Learning Director at The REP added “We are delighted to welcome back Mathias and CJ to lead Lightpost Theatre Company. This progression is what the company is all about, providing participants with the support to recognise their talent, help them with their career and provide a voice within the wider community.
Mathias and CJ will be supporting new members, organising workshops, writing and rehearsal sessions and leading the creative team into realising their artistic vision.
The company work with professional directors and writers to create, rehearse and stage outstanding productions reflecting their own personal journey or themes affecting the wider community. These have included a sell-out run of Scenes From A Brummie Iliad based on Homer’s epic poem, an original performance reflecting on mental health for the 2019 BEDLAM Arts and Mental Health Festival and a performance in a secure unit through Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. [. . .]