Story of life in South East London

Corey Bovell’s Chicken Burger N Chips is a semi-biographical story of a young black man navigating life against a backdrop of gentrification and knife crime. 

Chicken Burger N Chips is written and acted by south Londoner Corey Bovell and is a piece based on his own experiences growing up in Lewisham. 

Bovell’s show is part of a series at Brixton House which showcases independent artists and freelancers’ work over the past few years. 

Though not all his shows are created in this one man, autobiographical manner, Bovell is no stranger to social commentary and using real life to inspire his stories.

He said: “I had a desire to tell a story about a young boy from south east London and I wanted it to be my story.

“Being from Lewisham, being born and raised there, going off to university and coming back and still navigating it, there’s a lot of change but then there’s not a lot of change in the way of crime.”

Although there are the issues of knife crime and gentrification within his own upbringing and thus within this story, Bovell also wanted to make sure that audiences understood the situation is a lot more complex. 

He added: “This is a young man who lives in Lewisham so things like knife crime do take place and happen, things like gentrification, things like the closures of leisure centres and youth groups.

“These areas where young people are able to express themselves, outside of school hours to keep them out of trouble and let their minds be creative.

“These things have disappeared, they’ve been taken away so it’s just about what other things are people getting up to, how do they put themselves in those situations. I just want to tell that story.”

Seeing other one man shows, Bovell found them “speaking their truth” and this is reflected throughout the narrative, with the experiences of Bovell as an adolescent growing up in Lewisham, going to Morley’s or hanging out with his friends.

As well as touching on important issues, the story also allows other young people to see that there are ways to express themselves creatively, through art and tell their stories. 

Brixton House as a venue encourages emerging artists and this isn’t the first time Bovell has worked with them. 

Bovell hopes that the story encourages people to realise that if their life isn’t going in a positive direction, it’s possible to change paths. His show portrays different decisions and choices and the impact that they have on both the character, and those around him. 

He said: “I wanted to dramatise a situation that has happened and that could happen in the near future, so people can see the impact of these decisions on themselves and everybody around them.

“When you dramatise it, you are able to see it and start a conversation.”

He also hopes to represent his borough in different ways and speak to the audience, to make them feel seen by explaining the feeling of growing up in a certain area, in a certain way of life. 

By seeing themselves, or stories similar to their own, it makes them realise that they do exist and are visible in society.

Chicken Burger N Chips will be closing the Housemates Festival from 3-6 May at Brixton House.

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