seeds is a powerful new theatre production that tells the story of two mothers united in sorrow, unable to escape the tragedy of knife crime, trying to protect their sons – one in life, and one in death. We caught up with one of the leads, celebrated actress Judith Jacob to give us her perspective on the tragic subject matter.
Written by Mel Pennant and directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, seeds is currently touring the UK. Knife crime offences in England and Wales have reached a record high and hate crimes have more than doubled over a seven-year period. seeds sensitively highlights the stories of those who fight to keep their children safe from the world they grow up in.
Judith Jacob, an EastEnders alumnus, who has also starred in The Real McCoy and a number of other British dramas, is a mother and we wanted to learn her views on the worrying issues around knife crime and how she prepared to take on the role of Evelyn alongside Penny Layden’s Jackie.
The subject matter is such a sensitive issue, how did you prepare to take on such a role?
It is so relevant to now. I take what the script gives me then be that woman who has had a child murdered. Probably any parent’s worst nightmare.
If you were in charge, from your perspective, what would you do to help stop knife crime?
There are too many factors to take into consideration. Families need support and not criticism. Support workers are needed at school, to give the child someone to go to who they trust and who they can explain their difficulties to about getting to school, completing homework, etc. They need places to go in the evenings that fire their imaginations. They also need to not be stopped by the police just because they are African/Caribbean.
Much of our readership are Black mothers. What do we need to be doing to help our children?
A support network of men and women who can be there after school to ensure children can get home, safely. Single parents need support from the community and public funds so they can say, ‘my child is being influenced by the street and I need help’ without feeling judged.
What do you want people to feel after watching the play?
I would love people to feel that they are part of the solutions to this epidemic. Call out racism when you see it whether you are of African descent or not.
What else are you working on?
I write, direct and produce with a group of women called BiBi Crew, Beverley Michaels, Suzanne Packer, Josephine Melville and Suzette Llewellyn. We have a play and an idea for TV that we are working on.
You’ve been on our screens for decades, what has changed or stayed the same when it comes to representation in television?
It went backwards for a long while as we were ‘integrated’. However, our voices are now being heard again and young people are leading the way, using social media to put out what they want to say. I really feel exciting times are coming.
Book your tickets to the seeds UK tour
6 – 7 March 2020
15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF
9 – 10 March 2020
Warwick Arts Centre
University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL
17 – 18 March 2020
Stephen Joseph Theatre
Westborough, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1JW
20 – 21 March 2020
10 Cambridge Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2ED
24 March – 11 April 2020s
21 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3NE