Contributing Writers:  Kaliek Hayes & Shelly Shell Williams 

Brothers Kaliek Hayes and Stephen Gardner are the founders of ChildhoodsLost Foundation and co-producers and was written and directed by Playwright and director Bilal Islam. Sponsored by, Children of the Arts Foundation, The Urban Art Gallery, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and Executive Produced by Put It Down Philly. 

RECAP by Kaliek Hayes

On March 10th and 11th Childhoodslost Theatre group put on A production called Childhoodslost Chronicles; the play focused on Gun violence and its effect on our youth—the play debuted at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre over two days with three shows. The production highlighted the destruction caused by a gun once in the hands of our youth. “Our objective with this production was to seat as many youths as possible with the hopes that young people could see the cause and effect of many choices similar to those in the show, hoping they would make better decisions.” 

In the two days and three shows, we accommodated 8 Philadelphia schools, three bringing out 7th and 8th students and 5 bringing out 9 through 12th graders. We also had nine different youth groups. We sat approximately 500 plus kids throughout the two days who were utterly engaged in a two-plus hour production; we believe the presentation was successful because the characters looked like them, talked like them, and were dealing with issues they see often; the relatability was crucial to the success of the show. 

We were at or very near capacity for every show. We did not have a single incident with youth in attendance, and we had numerous outpourings about how much they enjoyed the performance. I also have over 75 letters from students expressing how the play made them feel and what they learned. That’s roughly 15 percent of our youth audience.  Thank you to Shawnette Wilson of FOX 29 News for attending the play and for highlighting our youth. 

We plan to bring the production back to the stage on Memorial Day weekend before kids get out for the summer in hopes that it also reinforces a stay-safe summer initiative for kids. Said Kaliek Hayes

I had the pleasure of hosting the Play Childhoods Lost Chronicles, a powerful and emotional play that deals with the issue of violence in our communities. The play was performed by a talented and dedicated cast of youth actors, and I was truly impressed by their skills and commitment to their roles.

From the moment the play started, I was drawn in by the intense and emotional performances of the cast. The story tackled some difficult topics, including death, family issues, and violence, and the young actors handled these themes with maturity and sensitivity.

Throughout the play, I was struck by how well it captured the realities of violence in our communities. The dialogue was raw and honest, and the performances were powerful and moving. It was clear that the young actors had put their hearts and souls into the production, and the result was a truly memorable and impactful performance.

At the end of Childhoodslost Chronicles, the cast gave a Brittany Glover portrait by of Nas to his mother. Sadly, Nas, one of the youth stars, fell victim to gun violence in Philadelphia on March 22, 2022, at the age of 22. Childhoods Lost honored his memory with the painting. Rest in peace, Nas.