Trybe House Theatre is a newly formed company which seeks to actively build resilience and self-wellbeing, primarily with young black men aged 16- 25, using theatre as a supportive outlet.
In 2015, under the leadership of Philip J Morris, Birmingham Repertory Theatre took part in an initial pilot scheme Up My Street. This project aimed to improve the mental well-being of young black men through the medium of arts, specifically theatre. It was developed in direct response to statistics that show young black men in the U.K. are much more likely to develop serious mental illness than any other demographic. Funded by MIND, and independently evaluated by the Centre for Mental Health, their findings concluded that the young men were particularly positive about assessing something which provided them with ‘a different vibration’, and encouraged the ‘unique and empowering impact of collective male unity and positive social commitment.’ Several participants also talked about the value they found in the cultivation of a growth mindset : “The past few months of doing all these plays and scripting, and all these techniques has shown me that there’s things that I need to be learning and developing.” The full evaluation was compiled into a report – Against The Odds – and included participants sharing an extract from a devised production – Zulu Blue – at an event in Portcullis House in July 2017, to an audience of senior policy makers, funders and influencers.
In 2019, Philip moved from Birmingham to London to take up the role of Trainee Director at The Royal Court. It has remained a great ambition of his to revive and expand the focus of that original Up My Street work, especially in London, but also now to meet increasing demand from across the United Kingdom. Trybe House Theatre provides an important mechanism for the realisation of this: Its creation marks a significant new step forwards.
Our Current Activity
As everyone knows, the Covid-19 global pandemic and resulting lockdowns severely restricted the work of theatres and their employees, including Philip. It did, however, free up some important time for him to develop his ambition. Furthermore, the widespread response to the death of George Floyd increased requests for Philip’s expertise and experience to support young black men through engaged participation in theatre activities.
During the summer of 2020, Philip reached out to friends and former colleagues to help develop his aspirations further. Over the last six months, they have been brain-storming their ideas and formulating plans for forthcoming activities. In the meantime, Philip has also been busy developing his own artistic work, as well as directing and delivering on behalf of the National Theatre, The Young Vic, Company Three and now Paines Plough.
All four founding members of the Trybe House Team – Philip, Chenube, Emma and Stefan – continue to work on a voluntary basis. Given the current restrictions and situation, they are yet to all meet up in person but are in regular contact with one another, include online weekly team meetings. Conversations are underway with potential theatre partners to develop some bespoke projects for later this year, and Trybe House Theatre’s first pilot project is planned to launch early this summer. The longer-term strategic plan is receiving its final touches, and the search is on to secure funding for a sustainable future. Chiefly, all the team are really looking forward to welcoming a new tribe of young black men, and to supporting them as they strengthen their mental well-being and celebrate their achievements.