National Theatre to stage play based on Grenfell survivors perspective

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The National Theatre is staging a new play in London that is based on the first-hand account of survivors of the Grenfell blaze.

Written by Gillian Slovo and co-directed by Phyllida Lloyd and Anthony Simpson-Pike, the story is based on the experiences of those who were living in the tower block in North Kensington, west London, where 72 people died as a result of a fire in June 2017.

The production also collected the stories of the bereaved and the wider community.

South African-born playwright and novelist Slovo said: “It has been my great privilege to help put the words of a group of survivors and bereaved onto the National Theatre stage.

“I learned a tremendous amount about why the tragedy of Grenfell happened, but even more importantly I learned about a community which banded together when the state, both big and small, failed them.

“I ended up understanding that the story of Grenfell is not about a single event, but about the economic and political structures in which we live and how as a society we let this happen.”

The play will have three parts including before the tragedy, the night of the tragedy and a final part, which will show a short film about the campaign for justice by families.

Mamma Mia! director Lloyd is joined on the creative team by Benjamin Kwasi Burrell as the composer and voice and dialect coach Hazel Holder.

Among the cast is Bridgerton and Harlots star Ash Hunter, Motherland actress Jackie Clune, Doctor Who star Pearl Mackie and star of both Bodyguard and The Salisbury Poisonings Michael Shaeffer.

Half of the tickets at every performance will be sold for £20 or less as £10 tickets are made available to those who face financial or other barriers to attend.

People living across North Kensington will also be invited to watch the production in the South Bank theatre for free.

Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 – London
Phyllida Lloyd who will serve as co-director of Grenfell: In The Words Of Survivors (Ian West/PA)

There will also be paid long and short-term work placements, collaboration on creative projects and learning programmes in local schools.

Hanan Wahabi, a survivor from the tragedy, said: “With each year that goes by our pain doesn’t stop but we must keep our stories alive and at the forefront of people’s minds.

“When people watch this play, I have no doubt that they will want to do something, whether through word of mouth or through action. The domino effect of this is the power. ”

The contributor and member of an advisory group, which was formed to guide the production, added: “Throughout this process, I have felt supported by the team; everything has been on my own terms, and I felt that they truly knew me, and my family and they showed so much empathy, love and care.”

The inquiry into the blaze is due to present its final report later this year.

Grenfell: In The Words Of Survivors runs at the NT’s Dorfman Theatre from July 13 to August 26.

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