Thursday 21st July sees the 10-10-10 showcase at the Intermission theatre in London. It brings together a selection of London’s best actors, directors and writers in showcasing a series of 10 minute plays that will allow each artist to show you their vision.

 

Darren Raymond is the artistic director and the creator of 10-10-10. With a history of crime and having spent three years in jail, Darren now boasts a Serena Neville prize, published poetry in the Guardian and numerous lead roles in Shakespearian and commercial tours.

 

FAB:  What was it like for you growing up? How did you end up in prison?

I grew in an estate in Hackney, East London. I went to school in Westminster and that was because my mum didn’t wanna send me to a school in Hackney just because what they represented. She wanted to keep me out of trouble because I was kinda getting into trouble at the time when I was going into secondary school. But unfortunately it didn’t work because I was going to school in Westminster and seeing a completely different kind of life in terms of city life, travelling to school on the Victoria line and the coming out of Victoria station and then seeing all these people going to work and stuff like that. It was a completely different life to what I was used to growing up in Hackney and what I saw in Hackney was something completely different and I suppose subconsciously it made me wonder why people were worse off in my area. When I came back from school there was pretty much nothing to do, nothing to stimulate or engage in. So when I was outside playing and stuff it was all kind of negative things to get involved in. And the people that were kind of role models were the drug dealers on the estate because they were the ones coming around talking to the young ones you know about cars, jewellery, money and all that. There wasn’t really anybody that I had to look up to in a positive kind of way, apart from my mum. She was there, but then my Dad wasn’t around. Not having a male father figure a positive male to lead me I suppose was one of the reasons why I went down the wrong route.

So from that age of 13 I was doing what you would call small crime, like selling weed, nicking car stereos and stuff like that. That escalated into bigger things and from the age of 15 I was selling Class A drugs and was doing that for almost 7 to 8 years before I got caught. I got arrested in May 2004 and got sentenced for possession of class A drugs with intent to supply

FAB:  Did acting or writing ever interest you when you were younger?

People have asked me this question before and I’ve always said no, but I think my memory’s gotten clearer the older I get. I really did enjoy English in school. I don’t think I was unintelligent, I could get by I was quite cunning and clever in that I knew how to get my work done and then engage in the stupid stuff with my mates. Out of all the subjects English was my favourite and that was probably because the teacher was young teacher that could reach out to me on a personal level. I liked him because of that and so I wanted to do well in his class. And I did have a very vivid imagination.

FAB: Can you describe the first moment when you realised that writing was what you wanted to do?

It was when I understood Shakespeare which was when I was in Brixton prison. Prior to realising that I understood Shakespeare I was doing classes with a Shakespeare workshop that came into the prison. It gave me a reason to want to read Shakespeare. I used to go back to my cell and try to read his plays and understand it. The play that really changed things for me was Othello. When I understood what the play was about, really understood the language and got to grips with the issues and themes and characters I just thought firstly that he was a fantastic writer, the way he captured things, his poetry, and the language and how he told his stories. I’ve always been very ambitious from a young age, anything I do wanna be the best. I’ve got this mentality where if I like something I feel I can do it better than the person who inspired me to enjoy it. It’s a bad thing and a good thing because it was the same when I was on the streets and started doing crime I felt like I could be the best at selling drugs, which is stupid, but I did become that in my area. It was the same with Shakespeare, I enjoyed his writing and I just thought “I can do this”. I felt that I had stories to tell and I could tell them in a good way so I started writing.

FAB:  How does your role in the intermission theatre affect your spirituality?

Intermission is the reason for my faith; it’s the reason for my belief. Before I got the job at Intermission I was going to St Saviour’s church for worship on Sundays. The vicar and his wife were very instrumental in my faith not only in Christ but in humankind as well. Just being in a faith environment  and a spiritual environment, being surrounded by people who constantly have hope and belief has done so much for me and is the reason why I’ve changed and is part of the transformation.

FAB:  Where do you draw inspiration from for your writing?

My inspiration first and foremost comes from God; He inspires me through things that I’m living with on earth. So I can be inspired from my past, my life, what I’ve been through, from other people. It can be anything that inspires me, but I know the inspiration comes from God and he channels things in different ways. I can be inspired by a piece of orange peel on the table and it could just spark something. Creativity is such a crazy thing anyway.

FAB: What has been the highlight of your career?

I’ve had a few, I can’t really answer that. I think every day is a highlight for different reasons. I think it’s because of where I’ve come from, what I’ve overcome and what I’ve achieved so I don’t take anything for granted, every day I wake up I thank God that I’m blessed with what I have and what I’m achieving. I think the highlight for me is the moment.

FAB: What’s the best thing about what you do?

It’s my work with the young people. I’ve set up a youth theatre for young people at risk of offending, that’s my baby. It’s the best thing for me because it’s giving young kids the opportunity, if I had the opportunity I don’t think I would’ve gone the way I did. To see them transform because of what we do and the work that their involved in and how they change their lives is priceless.

FAB: If anything what is the worst thing?

That’s a hard question. I would say the time. There’s just not enough time to be able to have the impact that I want to have. There’s just not enough time.

FAB: What can we expect from the 10-10-10 showcase?

It’ll be an exciting new showcase with London’s top writers, actors and directors coming together for one night to give you a taste of what they do.

FAB: What would you like people to walk away with after the showcase?

I want people to understand what Intermission stands for. It’s very much about giving opportunities and creating relationships, we really believe that family and relationships are what we’re here for. So I want people to leave understanding what Intermission is about and I also want people to experience excellent theatre. Because we’re a church and a theatre, the church has connotations of amateur dramatics and it’s something we’re definitely not. We function as any professional theatre usually would and our expectations are the same as any professional theatre company in the calibre of work we want to produce. The only difference is our process. The show is very important but to us it’s not the most important thing, it’s more about the spiritual growth of the performer, the director or the writer. We have a saying here at Intermission which is God doesn’t expect perfection just excellence and that’s what we try to do.

FAB: What is the one thing that you would say to young black men that you wish someone had told you when you were younger?

That I was gonna be alright. I don’t think it’s as simple as that. What a lot of young black men and young people in general don’t receive is a word of encouragement. There’s so much negativity around young people and young black people and it’s so much about what they can’t do or what they’re doing to themselves, there’s just so much negative talk. Although that needs to be addressed, sometimes you just need to give a young person a tap on the back or a word of encouragement; it can change that person drastically. Sometimes you just need to say, “You know what? Don’t worry you’re gonna be alright.”

The show starts at 7.30pm at St Saviour’s church, Walton Place, London, SW3 1SA. Tickets cost £10. Call 0207 581 4620 or visit www.intermissiontheatre.co.uk for more information. Don’t miss out!

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