Birmingham’s Lightpost appoints new leaders

Published: 15 May 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

The cast of Lightpost’s 2019 production Scenes From A Brummie Iliad, based on Homer’s epic poem

Two former members of a Birmingham theatre company which aims to address the effects of racism and discrimination have been employed in leadership roles.

Mathias Andre and CJ Webley will head Lightpost Theatre Company, which was set up after a 2015 pilot scheme established by mental health charity Mind to help strengthen mental health in young black men through theatre.

The scheme was developed in response to statistics that show young black men in the UK are much more likely to develop serious mental illness than any other demographic.

Lightpost was given three years’ funding by the National Lottery Community Fund and has welcomed hundreds of participants aged between 18 and 26 from across the West Midlands who have gone on to create their own productions and gain employment and training within the industry.

Webley said, “it has always been the goal for Lightpost Theatre Company to create new leaders. Because we understand what these young men experience outside the company, we can help to empower them and support resilience against perceived and proven barriers including lack of opportunity, racism and related stresses.”

Andre added, “Lightpost is not just a theatre company, it’s a movement. This is an experience like no other. If you’re a young male of black heritage and have a keen interest in theatre, then you should join us. Get yourself in the room and take ownership—you deserve to be here as much as everyone else.”

Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week which takes place from 18 until 24 May, Alex Summers, creative learning director at Birmingham REP, said, “we’re delighted to welcome back Mathias and CJ to lead Lightpost.

“This progression is what the company is all about, providing participants with the support to recognise their talent, help them with their career and provide a voice within the wider community.”

During the lockdown, Lightpost will continue to work on Constructed, a play about black British male construction workers, using the construction site as a metaphor for new beginnings. The play will première at the REP and tour community spaces.