Monday, October 31, 2005

Ham & High on "It's No Joke"

Cutting edge show teaches a valuable lesson
14 October 2005
Jonathan Marciano

THE problem of knife crime in Haringey schools is being tackled by a group that uses laughter to disarm students.

The Comedy School has begun a tour of every secondary school in the borough.

The team of actors and caseworkers perform a 45-minute show with sketches highlighting the dangers of youngsters carrying knives.

Pupils at Highgate Wood school, in Montenotte Road, saw the first performance of the show.

Following last Friday's performance, Richard Taylor, father of 10-year-old Damilola, who bled to death after being stabbed on a Peckham estate in 2000, spoke to pupils.

He said: "I do not want any parents to go through the experiences that I went through. It is important people take home the messages seen today."

Schools officer PC Kenneth Ebuniwe, based permanently at the school, said: "I thought the shows were brilliant. Pupils see me as someone who can arrest them but this shows a different light to the problems regarding knives.

"I think there is still a perception that carrying a knife is somehow cool and gives people credibility."

The Metropolitan Police and Association of London Government have funded the It's No Joke presentation, being shown to all 13 to 15-year-old pupils in Haringey.

It is part of the wider Operation Blunt, designed to stop the widespread carrying of knives.

In Haringey violent crime accounts for 14 per cent of all recorded crime and more than 5 per cent of all offences involves a knife. Haringey contributes 4.8 per cent to total London knife crime, with teens more likely to carry a knife than a gun.

Schools in Haringey have been rocked by violent crime among its students.

One 16-year-old pupil was stabbed outside the gates of Alexandra Park secondary, Bidwell Gardens, in February. He was taken to hospital, where he recovered.

In April 17-year-old Charles Oseibonsu, a student at Greig City Academy in High Street, Hornsey, was shot in his shoulder in Tottenham after a car pulled up alongside him.

Keith Palmer, director of the Primrose Hill-based Comedy School, said: "Comedy is good at laying bare people and issues. It is possible to engage people who are otherwise disempowered.

"Then afterwards there is support such as anger management or workshops."

Characters in the plays poke fun at pupils' street slang and the false credibility surrounding knives. The performance has a hip soundtrack and highlights the prison sentences that can be handed down to people caught with knives.

Jane Elson, who has a lead part in the show, said: "The schools in Haringey have been really great and got involved. Sixty per cent of people carrying a knife end up arming their attackers and getting hurt themselves.

"If this stops one person carrying a knife and getting hurt then it is worth it.


At 14 October, 2006 19:27, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's No Joke! This is the second time i'm on tour with this wonderful production it is extremly educational hard hitting stuff that kids need to hear and I feel is the best way for it to be put across. Thanks to the comedy school for letting me take part in such a wonderful production. Toni aka Beautrice x x x x


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