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Christian theatre company encourages teenagers to leave knife crime behind in new play
The Christian theatre company Saltmine are going into secondary schools to try to challenge perceptions abut carrying knives.
Saltmine have performed a play version of John's gospel in Christian Unions throughout the country and go to festivals such as Word Alive with plays based on the lives of John Newton and Martin Luther.
Their latest play, Switch Up, will go into secondary schools and is accompanied by a workshop focusing on the issues of knife crime, gang violence and self-identity.
Marcel White, the director, is an actor who has been working with Saltmine for three years.
He told Premier reducing knife crime is a topic he feels passionately about: "It's really heartbreaking for me - really, really heartbreaking for a few reasons. When I became a Christian I had not long come out of that lifestyle.
"I myself didn't necessarily carry a knife but I was around it all the time and it was something I really wanted to do actually - I wanted to carry a knife, I wanted to be a bad boy, I wanted to be someone.
"It's where a lot of young people find their identity. So, to see young people dying at the cost of, what? A number on a road sign? Or colours or revenge?...It's really heartbreaking".
Marcel White explained how addressing this issue had become a personal outworking of faith for him: "This is something that God has been speaking to me about, about how he'll use me and actually send me into these communties...to talk to young men like this to show them not just a better way but the best way and that actually God is not a distant person living in the sky - he's right here.
"I'm both saddened and convicted at the same time that I've been so slow with the things that God has put in my hands".
Speaking of Christians' role in this, he said: "I believe there is a great mandate for the church to bring about hope and bring about a different path."
Switch Up came out of working with Derby City Council, who wanted a play that could go into secondary schools to help teenagers make safer decisions about carrying knives.
Marcel said once they had permission make it, the storyline came within a few hours and they decided to add a workshop to make students think about what motivated people to carry a knife and to talk about identity as well.
"Sometimes people can end up not making a difference 'cos they think it's a drop in the ocean" he said, "I believe the church can support this".
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