'A voice for this generation'

PAL: Your AI Care Companion is the latest production from the Citizens Theatre's Young Co. This bold new play by Sara Shaarawi was inspired by conversations with the company and explores topical issues facing young people today. Here, Community Drama Director and Young Co. leader Neil Packham tells us a bit more about the group and gives us an insight into the rehearsal room:

Neil Packham in rehearsals for PAL. Photo by Alasdair Watson

PAL: Your AI Care Companion marks the Young Co’s 25th production since it began back in 2005. While we are so looking forward to getting back into our home in 2024, we are very excited to perform at the Tramway in T4 and with a newly commissioned play by the very talented writer Sara Shaarawi.

Our adventure on this project began in the autumn of 2022, when we met, improvised and discussed the themes, story and character ideas with Sara in our weekly workshops. Everyone recognised what a special opportunity it was to collaborate with a recognised playwright. Sara went away to commence writing the play, having been inspired by the Young Co.

Rehearsals for PAL. Photo by Alasdair Watson.

Just before Christmas, the early draft was delivered to us. The group devoured this and immediately offered the writer plenty of questions to explore and move the play on. Sara continued to produce new material up until mid-February. The first read through with the group caused a lot of laughter along with a recognition of how bold and pertinent this play was. Since then, rehearsals have been fast and furious, everyone being totally committed to creating something special. 

Rehearsals for PAL. Photo by Alasdair Watson.

Sara Shaarawi has created in PAL: Your AI Care Companion, a voice for this generation, a generation who have been through tough times, whose future has directly been affected by a pandemic, Brexit, disruption to their education, climate change, war in Ukraine, political upheaval, an energy and cost of living crisis, and an underfunded health service struggling to survive. Not to mention the incredibly pace of the development Artificial Intelligence and it’s impact, be that positive or negative. This sounds grim and you can’t avoid the pertinence of this piece, however, I’m certain the dark humour, rich characters and total commitment of these talented cast of young people will inspire you.

I’m very proud of the Young Co. all it’s achieved and the journeys of participants past and present. We all look forward to our next adventure when we return to the Citizens Theatre, next year.

PAL: Your AI Care Companion runs from 12- 13 May at Tramway. Find out more.