January 1941. Snow is falling. A terrible crime is taking place in a clinic for disabled children. The perpetrators argue that it will help struggling parents and lift the financial burden on the mighty German state.
One brave voice is raised in objection. But will the doctor listen?
Stephen Unwin directs his debut play, All Our Children at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre, which probes one of the darkest episodes in recent history.
Unwin’s elegant debut work shows a world caught in a spiral of horror and examines a brutal system which sanctioned mass murder for those who led what the Nazis called ‘lives unworthy of life’.
An astonishing and chilling story of courage, betrayal and humanity, Unwin tells a rich dramatic narrative and explores cultural, moral and social arguments which still rage today.
Casting, announced today, is Edward Franklin (Doctor Thorne, Shakespeare in Love, Hay Fever), Rebecca Johnson (The Trip, The Carrier, Casualty 1900s), Lucy Speed (Jamie Johnson, Cradle To Grave and National Treasure), Colin Tierney (The Odyssey and The Iliad, The Father) and David Yelland (The Winter’s Tale, Taken at Midnight, Henry IV).
Unwin is one of the UK’s leading theatre directors. He founded the English Touring Theatre in 1993 and opened the Rose Theatre Kingston in 2008 becoming its artistic director until 2014.
He said: “All Our Children comes from a deep place. I am the father of a profoundly disabled young man, but also the son of a German-Jewish refugee and was brought up as Catholic.
“The story of the conservative Bishop von Galen’s campaign against euthanasia and murder fascinated and moved me. And I was shocked by the pseudo science and rationality that the Nazis offered in defence.
“How do we value those who are not productive; how do we support those who can’t support themselves; how do we protect the most vulnerable?
“The challenges that the disabled face today are, thankfully, a long way from the horrors of Nazi Germany, but some of the philosophical and social questions that it raises are fiercely relevant today.”
All Our Children is Unwin’s first original play although he has written eight books on theatre and drama and translated several plays.
He is a campaigner for the rights and opportunities of people with learning disabilities and was appointed the head of Kids, the national charity providing services to disabled children, young people and their families.
All Our Children, staged by Tara Finney Productions, runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre from April 26 to June 3.