FOR young people, and for people with diverse needs, interests and identities, Stevie G’s latest appointment is a promising one.
The RedFM DJ has always championed young and under-represented people through a variety of projects like ‘Everybody Dance,’ ‘Where’s my Future,’ ‘The Cork Migrant Centre Youth Group’ and his latest project, ‘The New School’.
This is set to be an interesting partnership. Since 1991, Corcadorca Theatre Company has pushed local, national, and international audiences to reimagine the power and potential of theatre and the theatrical space.
Stevie is suitably excited to work with them.
“I’ve always liked the way they take theatre to the people. They have brought theatre into nightclubs, warehouses and out onto the streets. I have massive respect for what they do.”
He’s the first to admit that theatre isn’t his area, but his involvement in community activism makes him the perfect person for the diversity role. And that work is prolific.
“I’ve really enjoyed my work with ‘Everybody Dance,” he enthuses. “I devised the brand to bring DJ events to people who wouldn’t usually feel included, like people with additional needs for instance.
“The access to music and the arts just isn’t there for various reasons. And the inverse is also true. We’re not hearing artistic output from enough marginalised groups.
“There’s that issue in theatre too,” Stevie explains, “You give out a casting call and with the best will in the world, you get mostly white middle class actors.
“Pat Kiernan and the team at Corcadorca want to change that, and my job will be to help facilitate that change.”
Stevie has already drawn on his connections.
“I was really thrilled to link up Corcadorca and Neo Gilson, one of their two artists in residence. Neo lives in Direct Provision and comes from South Africa. We might all complain about Covid restrictions and lockdown. Direct Provision means you’re living in constant lockdown. Ireland needs to hear about that, and they need to hear about it from somebody experiencing it. Her artist residency with Corcadorca and Sample Studios is exciting for us all.”
Corcadorca is thrilled to partner up with someone they describe as a “highly respected DJ, radio presenter and media personality, with over 25 years experience running events, venues and youth programmes in Cork city.
“We want to change things,” Stevie continues.
“This is not about social media. This is about going out and finding people in different communities and getting them heard. This is not a box-ticking exercise, and it’s also not about me.”
Stevie is emphatic.
“My voice is exactly the voice we don’t need to hear from. It is an overrepresented one. I am white, middle-class, and male. This is about connecting artists with different and fresh perspectives.”
Although this is a new role for Stevie, it’s grounded in what he’s been doing for decades. And of course, at the very centre of it all is music, and his broader HipHop philosophy.
“When I talk about HipHop I’m not just talking about somebody rapping, it’s an attitude, a spirit.”
Another project of his, ‘The New School’, is all about sharing high quality HipHop without offensive content for kids.
“HipHop is about giving a voice to the voiceless or the overlooked, the young, the under-represented,” says Stevie.
“Right now, I’m working on a documentary about the origins of HipHop. I’m asking young people to voice it.
“Chuck D from Public Enemy said HipHop was the black person’s CNN in the 1980s. It was where they could voice the facts of their lives, their views, and frustrations, at a time when mainstream media was ignoring them. Representation has always been important to me.”
Stevie G has certainly stayed true to these HipHop roots.
“I was a part of the Test Site concerts put on beside the Bridewell during the summer. We gave four young artists the opportunity to perform in their first show. I’m also working with Foróige in Togher as well as some students in the Life Centre with CYPSC. I’m collaborating with a wonderful photographer, Deirdre O Callaghan, on the project.
“One of the messages I get from young people is they’ve no space in our city. When they hang out outside St Paul’s shopping centre they’re moved on. Nobody wants to see them.
“People are far too quick to criticise young people and the music they listen to. It’s because maybe people have forgotten what it’s like to be young themselves.”
Stevie G’s youth feels extremely close to the surface. In fact, speaking to him reminds me of my own, dancing to his sets in Sr Henry’s.
He is set to work with Corcadorca on a number of theatre projects until July, 2022. Lucky us. And on this occasion, I mean lucky all of us.