Rujenne Green is passionate and driven …
… after witnessing the many young people in the UK who have lost their lives she decided that she could no longer sit and watch. Green wrote a spoken word piece that received a great response it inspired her to write Epidemic – an audio play based on the real stories of the sad and unfortunate deaths of young people whose lives were cut short.
We spoke to Green about Epidemic, her experiences with getting it off the ground with no funding, and how she thinks it could help our fight against Knife violence …
Please introduce yourself?
Heya, my name is Rujenne Green and I am of Jamaican heritage. I am from North London, Wood Green. Where I have grown up all my life.
Please share a word or sentence which best describes your life right now …
Self love and healing.
Epidemic shares with audiences the stories of people who have been the victims of knife crime can you tell us about some of the stories you chose and why you chose them?
I wanted to use real-life stories so I put out a call on all my socials praying the stories would roll in straight away. They didn’t. But after a day or two, they slowly started coming in. All six people who got back to me were the stories I used and fortunately needed. Not only were they from victims but also from different people’s points of view, which helps the audience see a bigger picture. They trusted me with their stories and I will forever be grateful.
How did you choose the cast for the audio play? And as someone who is just starting out how was the process for you?
It was a hard task but so rewarding. Especially with Epidemic being my first play, I had numerous roles to fill with casting being one of them. With the help of family, friends, and the lovely creatives that I’d worked with in the past helping me spread the word, my email and socials were flooded with performers and nonperformers wanting to audition. I didn’t need rounds of auditions to know who I wanted, as soon as I heard the voices I had to have them. And thank God they were all available for the production dates originally planned.
With the current climate there seems to be no end to the violence and the tragedies we hear about, how important is it to share these stories?
Very important. Everyone from all walks of life needs to know what is going on in the country they live in. The next generations are who will be running the world when the time comes, we all need to be a helping hand and guide for them. A great starting point is to know what is happening within our communities in order to come together and get to the root of the problem and eradicate it. Listening to these stories is the first step, taking action is the next.
As a young person who has experienced loss due to violence how has creating Epidemic helped you process things?
I thank God I have never experienced loss directly through violence because that person pulled through. But the countless names streaming on our news feeds feels like a punch, so I can only imagine what the families of the victims are going through. Creating Epidemic has helped me build a foundation to take action. It’s one thing to hear about the loss of our youth, feel sad for a second then move on. It’s another to get up and physically do something to make that positive change we want to happen.
You funded the play yourself with the help of family and friends as you did not get external funding. How important is it for organisations to support individuals like yourself who are trying to better your community?
I used a good chunk of my savings to get Epidemic produced and into audiences’ ears. It’s so important for organisations to give people like myself a fair chance. We may not be part of a team, but individually we are doing the work of a team to better our communities. I would say open up your applications to individuals. Genuine people like me will 100% agree to having a full background check if that means we can better the lives of those around us.
You have chosen for all proceeds to go to The Godwin Lawson Foundation can you tell us about the charity and what it means to you?
The Godwin Lawson Foundation helps young boys and girls better themselves in order to have a bright future and help make our communities safer! Especially those in the North London area, where I am based and have grown up. I was able to have a Zoom meeting with Yvonne Lawson (Founder) and Caroline Large to get to know more about the foundation. Our values and mission aligned, which solidified my choice in choosing them.
Now that theatres are reopening would you consider adapting the play for the stage?
Originally Epidemic was written for the stage but I had to change it to an Audio Play due to the pandemic. I actually prefer it this way because the audience’s imagination can run wild whilst listening to it – picturing themselves in each scene instead of the cast. If I ever do get the chance to put Epidemic on stage, I would go with my original plan of having the production very minimal or interactive. Making sure nothing gets taken away from each story being told.
What is the rest of 2021 looking like for you?
The rest of 2021 is looking bright. Being an actress first, the amazing agency I am under has me auditioning for upcoming productions. I am also planning to bring workshops to schools to do with Epidemic and I have another idea that I would love to bring awareness to. Epidemic may be my first but certainly won’t be my last.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU…
- A book you have to have in your collection? – The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date? – You Made A Way by Travis Greene
- The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you (theatre, concert…)? – The Lion King – the colours, the singing, the dancing and the cast’s unity will stay with me forever. I’ve never actually thought about it but they might have sparked the actress in me.
- What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week? Sad – that I will never get to meet my firstborn daughter properly here on earth. I lost her back in February at 18 weeks. Mad- That I had to spend £3.99 on my recent clothes delivery. Can’t wait for it to come though. Glad – that YOU replied to my emails and offered to help me get the word out about Epidemic. Persistence is key. I’ve always been transparent about needing help as I don’t have a team as of yet, I am the team.
Epidemic is out now on www.byforce.org until 1st January 2022. All money goes to The Godwin Lawson Foundation.
Follow Rujenne Green Instagram