Black Theatre Live


I Created A Theatre Show To Stamp Out The Stereotypes Of A Young Black Man

10 November 2017

Joseph Barnes-Philips of Big Foot article on his experience of touring with Black Theatre Live this autumn for the Huffington Post

"I thought people from South East London just stabbed and killed each other. I didn't know you get an education."

This was the response I was met with during my Fresher's Week at East 15 Acting School when a young lady asked where I was from, and I proudly replied "South East London."

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't irritated, but I realised that her perception was a common stereotype of young black males that many also shared.

Growing up I constantly battled with how I was perceived by teachers, the police, strangers, friends and family; but what I struggled with most was how I saw myself. Because of this I started to 'play up' to the labels I was given, while secretly grappling to find my identity and my role in our society.

Hoodlum. Big for nothing. Dyslexic. Under-achiever. Lower-class. Poor. Fat boy. Hot head. Loud mouth. Young carer. IC3 Male. Panda - what the bullies called me. And Bison - my street name. All of these labels reflected assumptions about me by individuals who didn't understand the behaviour I exhibited, the music I listened to, the culture I came from or the enormous responsibilities I was carrying as a young teen.

Lacking a sense of purpose and identity, I sought refuge in the sub-cultures which were surrounding me.