Colors: Red Color

Actor John Boyega delivered an uncompromising message against racism after fielding praise and backlash for Twitter posts about the subject.

The Star Wars star posted about his hate of racism following the death of an unarmed Black man in police custody in the USA.

He added: “WHITE on BLACK racism” had “ruined the world”, which sparked responses about other forms of racism.

He later doubled down against “racist white people” in an Instagram live.

His initial anger was sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, in the USA, who was shown in a video to be groaning “I can’t breathe” as a police officer knelt on his neck.

Boyega tweeted his hatred of racist before he replied to a Nigerian man who said that he broke up with his girlfriend because she was racist against white people.

The Hollywood actor replied: “I am talking about WHITE on BLACK racism. The kind that has ruined the world not caused a lil break up with your girlfriend.”

In the Instagram live, he then explained: “There’s no way that I have the opinion that there’s no other form of racism. Of course there’re other forms of racism.

“But a Black man was just murdered in cold blood in the streets Stateside again, while saying he can’t breathe.

The Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, immediately called for charges against the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck.

In a press conference the highly emotional Mayor said: “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?

“If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now”.

He (Mayor Frey) did not specify what the charge should be at the time, but he said that his determination was based on video of the incident.

Born in London, of Nigerian parents, Boyega said: “That is a continuous cycle going on.

“Although I don’t live in the States, I am Black.”

“We are not sure why he is being arrested”.

A white reporter who was also reporting at the scene was not arrested.

During the international media coverage of events in Minneapolis, CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez was cuffed by policemen as he was reporting live about the violence which erupted following Floyd’s death while a cameraman filmed the scene. A colleague commenting from CNN studios was heard saying: “If you’re just tuning in, you are watching our correspondent, Omar Jimenez, being arrested in Minnesota – despite identifying himself and asking why he was being arrested.

Mathias Andre and CJ Webley, two previous members of Lightpost Theatre Company, have now successfully been employed in leadership roles.
 
In 2015, Birmingham Repertory Theatre took part in an initial pilot scheme Up My Street, a partnership project funded by Mind, to help strengthen mental health in young black men through theatre. This 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.
  
Motivated by the scheme, participants formed Lightpost Theatre Company.
 
Addressing the effects of racism, discrimination, negative self-image and invisibility, Lightpost Theatre Company helps to strengthen the mental health resilience and wellbeing of those involved, improve self-belief, raise mental health awareness, assist personal development, and encourage inclusion and friendship.
 
With three years’ funding from the National Lottery Community Fund,  Lightpost Theatre Company has since welcomed hundreds of participants aged 18-26 from across the West Midlands who have gone on to create their own productions, perform to sell-out audiences, gain employment and training within the industry and create new leaders for a new generation of members.
 
CJ said “It has always been the goal for Lightpost Theatre Company to create new Leaders.  Because we understand what these young men experience outside of the company, we can help to empower them and support resilience against perceived and proven barriers including lack of opportunity, racism and related stresses.”
 
Mathias added: “Lightpost is not just a theatre company it’s a movement. This is an experience like no other.  If you are an 18-26 young male of black heritage and have a keen interest in theatre, then you should join us. Don’t allow others to write the narrative for you.  Get yourself in the room and take ownership, you deserve to be here as much as everyone else.”
 
Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, Alex Summers, Creative Learning Director at The REP added “We are delighted to welcome back Mathias and CJ to lead Lightpost Theatre Company.  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.
 
Mathias and CJ will be supporting new members, organising workshops, writing and rehearsal sessions and leading the creative team into realising their artistic vision.
 
The company work with professional directors and writers to create, rehearse and stage outstanding productions reflecting their own personal journey or themes affecting the wider community.  These have included a sell-out run of Scenes From A Brummie Iliad based on Homer’s epic poem, an original performance reflecting on mental health for the 2019 BEDLAM Arts and Mental Health Festival and a performance in a secure unit through Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Lightpost Theatre Company usually meets at The REP once a week but thanks to REP RELOADED’s digital offer the company can continue to work on their current project Constructed during the current lockdown period. Constructed is a play about Black British male construction workers, using the construction site as a metaphor for new beginnings. The play will premiere at The REP and tour community spaces.
 
Further Lightpost Theatre Company success stories include receiving paid employment as actors for The REP’s Creative Learning project Toy Theatres working with primary school class groups, several members going on to leading drama schools gaining places at the Italia Conti School and Guildford School of Acting and working professionally in the industry.
 
Lightpost Theatre Company is part of Shifting The Dial a unique scheme funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and is a partnership between Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Centre for Mental Health and First Class Legacy.
 
Centre for Mental Health’s Kadra Abdinasir, Head of Children and Young People’s Mental Health says “This ground-breaking partnership offers young black men a range of holistic and culturally-informed activities to engage with to help boost their mental resilience. This includes youth-led creative opportunities, such as the productions developed at Lightpost Theatre Company. The programme also empowers young men by building their skills and confidence and creates leadership and employment opportunities to enable them to transition into independence.”
 
Interested in becoming a member of Lightpost Theatre Company? Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
If you are an individual or organisation and would like to help The REP to support talented young people whose families maybe struggling financially at this time you can make a donation at www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/support-us/donate
 
Twitter @BirminghamRep
Facebook.com/Birminghamrep
Instagram @therepbirmingham
 

Ministry of Sound Classical have today released a special video in collaboration with Alexandra Burke, the London Concert Orchestra and NHS Choir to give thanks to the incredible work of the key workers.  Their cover of Olive’s 1997 classic ‘You’re Not Alone’, with it’s poignant, hopeful lyrics and combined with a purely symphonic arrangement, encapsulates what is currently a testing time for us all.  
 
This month, Ministry of Sound Classical, a 50-piece orchestral show, with the London Concert Orchestra was due to perform at the Royal Albert Hall by arrangement with Coalition Agency and promoters Raymond Gubbay Limited.  As these epic landmark performances for this show was forced to cancel due to COVID-19, it was collectively decided by the performers to create a video to show appreciation and say "thank you" to key workers, specifically our incredible NHS here in the UK. The video has now premiered on Ministry of Sounds YouTube Channel, with a donate link available for those who have enjoyed the track to support NHS Charities Together if they are able.  
 
Alexandra Burke is a supporter of the NHS Charities Together and was due to perform as a very special guest at Ministry of Sound Classical at the Royal Albert Hall, so was the perfect choice of vocalist for this very special project. Ministry of Sound Classical is overjoyed for the video to include the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir, having been invited to perform on the track by Alexandra. 
 
All musicians filmed and recorded their individual parts from the safety of their own homes.  The music arrangement and guide audio track was prepared by the live shows sound engineer Phil Wright and orchestral arrangers Robin Hoffman and Tom Player. 

Whether they are guitar players, backing vocals or studio engineers, career musicians struggle with pay even in regular times.

Many of them would tend to take on extra work in order to make ends meet when their services are not needed on stage or in the studio.

For them, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a double whammy.

Not only has tours and recording sessions been put on hold, but those second jobs in wedding bands or school classrooms have vanished too.

According to a Musician’s Union survey, 92% of its members have seen their livelihood affected by coronavirus, losing an estimated £13.9bn in earnings in the first two weeks of the lockdown.

Meanwhile, the Ivors Academy of songwriters and composers said that it anticipated a loss £25,000 per member over a six-month period.

Whilst record-breaking record royalty payments are often mentioned for the world’s superstars, Olga FirzRoy, an award-winning engineer and producer whose credits include The Beatles, Coldplay and Foo Fighters, said that for the rest, “the industry has ground to a halt”.

She said: “I did my last session in the first week of March, but have done nothing since then. And my colleagues are pretty much in the same boat.

“There’s no money coming in.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, some artists are finding ways to support their sidemen and women – and hope that they can establish new precedents along the way.

In Paris, in France, jazz artist, Melody Gardot is making a new record from her apartment, and inviting musicians from around the world to form her ‘virtual orchestra.’

Anyone can sign up – and they will receive musical charts, backing tracks and instructions on how to record themselves performing at home.

Cruelly, however, she is paying standard union rates to anyone who appears on the finished record.

Gardot says that she hopes that other artists will follow her lead in paying musicians for recording their parts at home.

“We got to get some of the big cats on board, like Ed Sheeran, or John Mayer, and keep creating opportunities for other people”.

Although recording studios may reopen very soon, with a backlog of work to get through, the picture is a little less rosy further down the line.

Echoing calls made by UK Music, (Olga) FirzRoy said that the government should work closely with the industry to make sure that it survives as the UK emerges from lockdown.

She said: “The music industry makes a lot of money for them in the good times. They need to think about that”.

Pop stars including Rag 'N' Bone Man, Roachford and Joy Crookes have all taken socially-distanced doorstep portraits, as they tell the BBC how they've been surviving the lockdown.

Spice Girl Mel C posed with her laptop and headphones, saying they've been "my window to the world" while isolating.

Rapper Raxstar held a framed photo of his cousin and uncle, both of whom died after contracting coronavirus.

He said: "Losing them has been a big blow to our whole family.

"I want to keep their memories and spirits alive in everything I do going forward."

While most of the artists said they'd continued making new music during the lockdown, others have been inspired to pursue new ideas.

Soul singer Ray BLK has discovered a hidden talent for nail art.

"As I haven't been able to go to the nail shop to get my nails done, I have people making custom nails, and I thought: 'This is so amazing being able to have all these great designs, and being able to do them myself at home.'

"It's been quite cool discovering new things."

Dance act Georgia, meanwhile, dragged a vintage kit of 1980s synth-drums onto her front porch, after setting up a virtual drumming circle to help her pass the time.

"We started a project called Grooves in Different Rooms, which hopefully I'm going to livestream on my Instagram soon," she said.

"It's going to be 20 different drummers positioned around the UK, some even in Europe, and we will livestream a jam."

Other artists who took part in the project included Tom Walker, Beverley Knight and Celina Sharma.

A woman who has been painting herself with scenes from the iconic Glastonbury Festival says that she has been “blown away” by the response.

Lisa Davies had not tried body painting until the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

The 33-year-old’s work has been shared by the festival’s Facebook community including a simple “wow” and “get that on canvas.”

Each picture takes Ms Davies about three hours to complete and is painted from a reverse image.

She said: “I didn’t expect the comments and praise that I’ve had. I’m really blown away by it all”.

Lisa, who works in customer services, moved from her home in Cardiff to be with her sister in Gloucestershire for the lockdown.

She said: “I’ve always loved drawing but lest all my pencils and art materials at home so I thought I’d send off for some body paints and have a go.

“I had tickets and should have been at the festival so I thought I’d paint my way round the site”.

Ms Davies finds an iconic view of the festival and then reverses the image before starting to paint it on to her body.

“It’s a bit mind-boggling to do and I’m not a professional by any means”, she said, “but if I make a mistake I just wipe it off.

“I do feel sad when I have to wash one off but that leaves me with a blank canvas for another.

Lisa plans to paint a series of 20 pictures, with her next challenge being the famous cider bus.

She also wants to do a black-and-white painting from the festival’s early days and one featuring festival founder, Michael Eavis.