Here is drama at its most relevant and current. The National Youth Theatre is staging Homegrown, created by Omar El-Khairy and Nadia Latif, about the radicalising of London schoolgirls by terrorism.
It has been produced in response to the three teenage girls who left their Bethnal Green homes to join ISIS. A cast of 112 take over an entire school for the immersive production.
In February the school girls left home to travel to Syria and join ISIS. As part of the National Youth Theatre’s 2015 season director Latif and playwright El-Khairy have responded, creating a brand new site specific promenade production exploring the implications of radicalism and extremism on the people and communities behind the headlines.
The premiere of the site specific show will take place inside Swiss Cottage’s UCL Academy with a cast of 112, one of the biggest in London this year.
Homegrown, in part a verbatim piece, will feature interviews with members of the Bethnal Green community among others.
On the production’s inception and creation Latif and El-Khairy said: “We had a number of reservations about making ‘a play about British Muslims going to join ISIS’.
“For so long, we had both resisted playing along with games of identity politics. So when the opportunity to do Homegrown came up we felt, to give ourselves fully and honestly to this piece, we had to try to redefine the terms on which it was to be made.
“Homegrown isn’t For Us By Us. The drive behind the production is to create a piece of theatre which unsettles preconceived ideas people come with to this subject matter.
“We don’t have an agenda, or seek to offer a solution but we hope that audiences will leave the piece feeling something within them shift.
“The opportunity to work alongside so many young people to create this piece and to be able to put the production on inside a working school has been fundamental to it’s development.
“Consequently the poltics of Homegrown can be found in its form as much as any message it may hold in regards to Islamic extremism, radicalisation or Islamophobia”.
The NYT is also to return to the Ambassadors Theatre in London’s West End later this year with three new productions.
The 10-week rep season will feature: Consensual – a brand new play about consent and sex education; Wuthering Heights, in a new adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel and The Merchant of Venice – Shakespeare’s play abridged especially for schools by Tom Stoppard. Performances will start on 18 September.
Homegrown runs at the UCL Academy from August 12-29.