Catholic theatre company Ten Ten wins £5,000 prize with drama project Safer Streets: Sam's Story

Ten Ten, the Catholic theatre company, has won the 2010 Fear and Fashion Award, beating organisations including Crimestoppers and the National Youth Theatre to the prize. The Fear and Fashion Awards honour work that successfully stops young people carrying and using knives.

Ten Ten Theatre won the £5,000 prize with the drama project Safer Streets: Sam’s Story. Martin O’Brien, artistic director of Ten Ten, said: “We were astonished to win. But now that we have, it’s a wonderful recognition of the work we’ve been doing, and a great honour.”

The play was originally written in collaboration with prisoners serving time at Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution. Unusually, and crucially for its success, the play is taken from the viewpoint of Sam, a young murderer, and examines the choices and actions that led him to kill.

Ten Ten is now going to take the play back into young offender institutions and develop the work further, incorporating the experiences, lives and crimes of the prisoners.

The theatre company was formed in 2007 to bring a Catholic ethos and outlook to theatre in education, and to belie the often poor image of theatre in education. Martin O’Brien is an experienced actor and writer – he has appeared at the National Theatre and in the West End musical Blood Brothers as well as writing for the BBC One flagship daytime drama Doctors – and he brings this professionalism to bear on Ten Ten’s work. “In my experience, theatre in an education setting speaks very deeply to the hearts and minds of the young people we work with,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We received funding from the Charles Plater Trust earlier this year to take a major new project into Young Offender Institutions. This, we hope, will have a huge impact on the lives of the young men we work with.” The company is based at and rehearses in the parish hall of Our Lady of Lourdes church, New Southgate, a partnership that has been fruitful for parish and company, with the theatrical professionals lending their expertise to a hugely successful parish production of Born For This, the Stations of the Cross in music, movement and words.

The theatre company takes its name from John’s Gospel: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”