A few weeks ago I had the privilege of taking headshots for members of the NYT Playing Up company. Playing Up is a social exclusion course for young people not in education, employment or training (NEETS) and is the equivalent of two A-levels. It allows those who were previously unable to access higher education to do exactly that... and most of them will! Bristol Old Vic, Central School of Speech and Drama and East 15 are just some of the institutions taking on Playing Up grads this year.
There's actually a little white lie in that last sentence, because although Gavi Singh Chera was offered a place at Bristol Old Vic, he won't be taking it up. When he told me this just before I did his headshot, I got the feeling that he didn't really want to talk about it and so we just got on with the job in hand. Here comes the silver lining.
Gavi will be appearing in Behind The Beautiful Forevers at The National in November, in what will be Rufus Norris's debut as Artistic Director… Not bad for your first gig eh?
That's one silver lining, but there are plenty of others that stem from the work of the Playing Up course. As Associate Director Anna Niland quite rightly said at the recent Playing Up performance at the Arcola Tent 'This course changes lives.' Hell yeah.