Now We Are Here | Tamara

Now We Are Here, part or our Horizons season of work, features four true refugees stories which are drawn together into a heartbreaking tale of the pursuit of freedom. Taking Part at the Young Vic presents this extraordinarily beautiful new play.
We spoke to the people who were originally involved in our first workshops about where they are from and why they decided to get involved in this important project.

Now We Are Here Portrait - Tamara

Tamara at the Young Vic. Photo by Leon Puplett.

Q. How have you found working on a project like this?
A. Ian and Imogen, especially Imogen…they make it so welcoming and there was no pressure. For example…this whole thing is about truth and wanting to be precise…they made sure I was comfortable because there are more vicious things that I’ve been through but I wasn’t ready to put it out there and they made it comfortable [easy] for me to realise that I can share just what I want…what I’m ready to. So it was very comfortable and very cool.

Q. You’re based in London now. How are you finding it?
A. I’ve been living here since 1999, so quite a long time. Liberating is the word. Liberating because…put it this way, for a long time I thought that something was wrong with me but then when I came here and found out that actually this was normal…that this was natural and that the church was being hypocritical and then I had to re-read the bible from start to finish a few times to realise that God made me in his own image so I am actually normal. The fact that I’m a lesbian doesn’t take away anything. I am his child. My great-grandmother was a Christian and I do believe in God so that was something that really brought me to a very comfortable place, comfortable in myself and accepting myself and loving myself because all the bad things that happened to me back then I just thought I deserved it because I wasn’t normal.

Q. You mentioned religion. How do you feel about religion now / are you practicing it?
A. I wouldn’t say I practice per se. I think religion should be a personal thing between a person and whoever they believed in. I think it’s your choice. I just got to church when I want, when I feel I need to otherwise I do it personally in my room or on the bus if I want to sit there and close my eyes and talk to him. So I don’t think that it’s this huge big thing that I need to throw into somebody’s face. I think that it’s something you have personally with you and your god or whoever you serve.

Q. And have you been back to Jamaica since?
A. No – I haven’t because of this asylum thing. When I lost my passport – well, the Home Office lost it – my lawyer said ‘better to claim asylum in that case’, and you have to wait for a certain period of time before you’re able to travel. So as soon as it’s safe for me to go back the first thing I want to do is to go to my great-grandmother’s grave because I haven’t been there. […]

Q. How was it telling your story in such and open and honest way?
A. The first time Golda…when I first readied myself it was a little bit too much in the sense that I was breaking down because it’s almost like you’re there again. It just your life…you’re re-living your life so that’s why Ian got Golda to come in and do it. When she first did it in rehearsal, every time she does it actually I commented that it’s almost like I could smell that smell again of the boy burning. Ian pointed out to me that your smell and your brain are somehow connected to you memory… Just hearing her do it, y’know, it’s just as touching as if I was doing it y’know. I’m sitting there…it’s almost watching my life inside a TV or something like that.

Q. Do you think Golda did the piece justice?
A. I think she did more than justice. She did an incredible job. I just hope that it wasn’t too emotionally draining on in the end because it is like going through all these emotions, personal emotions. She did really well.

Now We Are Here will run 20-30 July in The Clare at the Young Vic. Tickets are free and all donations will go to Micro Rainbow International and Room to Heal.

“Explosive and mesmerising” ★★★★★ for Blue/Orange

Luke Norris (Bruce), David Haig (Robert) and Daniel Kaluuya (Christopher) in Blue Orange at the Young Vic © Johan Persson.jpg

Matthew Xia’s revival of Joe Penhall’s “timeless” production of Blue/Orange opened at the Young Vic to critical acclaim. Take a look below at what critics have to say about the show. You can also read the audience responses to the show here. Blue/Orange runs at the Young Vic now until 2 Jul.

★★★★★
“Explosive and mesmerising… a contemporary classic”
The Arts Desk – read the full review here.

★★★★★
“David Haig’s Robert is a study in power”
The Arts Desk – read the full review here.

★★★★
“Packs even more of a punch 16 years after its debut… tremendous performances from Daniel Kaluuya, David Haig and Luke Norris”
The Guardian – read the full review here.

★★★★
“Daniel Kaluuya is superb as Christopher”
Time out – read the full review here.

★★★★
“A fierce and timely revival from Matthew Xia”
Evening Standard – read the full review here.

★★★★
“Sharply funny and provocative”
The Independent – read the full review here.

★★★★
“Three thrilling performances are just what the doctor ordered”
The Stage – read the full review here.

★★★★
“A beautifully pitched, fizzing revival”
Financial Times

★★★★
“Hilarious and razor sharp”
The Times

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We spoke to Joe Penhall, writer of Blue/Orange about his sharp, ‘state of the nation’ classic. Here’s what he had to say:

Astoria | Latest YV short

Astoria, the latest in the series of Young Vic short films, was released alongside the Young Vic’s Horizons season announcement earlier this week.

Written and directed by Paul Mason, former economics editor of Channel 4 News and BBC’s Newsnight, it follows a Syrian refugee’s journey to the West. Once there, an encounter with the past in a Budapest hotel draws a parallel between Europe’s historical and current response to refugees.

The experience highlights the necessity of resistance to oppression – and the danger of losing sight of history. In Astoria, Paul Mason explores the irony that today’s refugees are moving through a landscape that was the site of genocide; the limitations of what individual people can do when faced with atrocity; the way resistance and memory intertwine. Astoria was filmed in Budapest, Hungary and Stoke Newington, London in early 2016, Astoria stars July Namir and Sonya Cassidy.

In 2012, Paul covered the rise of the far right party in Hungary. Whilst there, his team stayed at the Astoria Hotel and discovered it was used as S.S. Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann’s headquarters and as a torture chamber during World War Two. Since then, Mason has wanted to tell that story.

Paul said, “It is axiomatic that the story of the refugees will be told by refugees. But the story of our inhospitable continent, and our forgetfulness about why people leave their homes, and where hatred leads – that is our story and we have to confront it. Astoria is my personal response.”

A new series of short films based on the experiences of refugees from around the world will be released in 2016 – 17.

You can find out more about Horizons, a season exploring the lives of refugees, at the Young Vic in our Horizons blog post.

Now We Are Here | Michael

Now We Are Here, part or our Horizons season of work, features four true refugees stories which are drawn together into a heartbreaking tale of the pursuit of freedom. Taking Part at the Young Vic presents this extraordinarily beautiful new play.
We spoke to the people who were originally involved in our first workshops about where they are from and why they decided to get involved in this important project.

Michael, YV TP LGBT Refugee Workshop Portrait

Michael, a participant in the original workshop, originally from Burundi.

Q. How old are you?
A. Well, that’s a very tough question because in Africa we never ask about age…being a person who has never celebrated their birthday or anything like that, makes it very tricky. But as far as I can remember, maybe 1972 – so I’m getting to 43/44.

Q. Where are you from?
A. Burundi. But it’s all about East Africa for me because my mother’s origins are in Uganda and her grandmother is from Tanzania, so I’m all East African.

Q. How are you finding it in the UK?
A. Well, I would say safety is the only thing I can mention. It’s safe. It’s so challenging – I’ve been here 13 years. I fled my country because of the political and tribal tensions in Burundi – 2000 /2001. Having been imprisoned, free, then to Tanzania. Having to leave without the freedom…having been believed by the home office…having to be destitute…with no permission to work and having no representation. I mean, it’s all denial. It makes me doubt where there is freedom or where there is justice. Sometimes you find that you are not regarded as a human being. I have to avoid all the papers that talk about me so I feel dehumanised. I feel like, all the time, I have to prove who I am, where I am from – it’s a very dehumanising process.

Q. How have you found doing this workshop / what do you take away from it?
A. Workshops like this are a gamble. I was referred and I just came in for a chat because I’m not allowed to work…I’m not allowed to go to school. I just came in and I met Imogen and Ian and it was very interactive. In my opinion it was more like counselling – I started talking about my like and I never thought it would be something that people would be interested in; my kind of ordinary life which I think is very horrible, very un-entertaining. For a day like to where were have merged with different people, different feeling to come up with something that friends…people…can come and relate to makes me a human being like anybody else.

Now We Are Here will run 20-30 July in The Clare at the Young Vic. Tickets are free and all donations will go to Micro Rainbow International and Room to Heal.

HORIZONS | a season exploring the lives of refugees

The Young Vic presents:

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A new season across three strands of the Young Vic’s work – productions on all three stages, on film and through Taking Part projects – is launched today.

A note from our Artistic Director, David Lan:
“Horizons is the Young Vic’s response to the world as it is now. People in distress need help and they need to be heard. We want to provide a powerful means for audiences at home and abroad to connect with the political, social and human realities refugees face. These are the central stories of our age. We are thrilled and moved to be working with compassionate and fearless people, some of whom had never been to a theatre before, as well as writers and artists including Paul Mason, Ian Rickson, Deanna Rodger, Isango Ensemble, Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson.

We are delighted to welcome Good Chance to our home on The Cut as an associate company, and to be able to support the inspirational work of the Joes and their team. We are proud to have been recognized by City of Sanctuary with an award for our work with refugee communities. By becoming a Theatre of Sanctuary, we extend our commitment to raising awareness of the plight of refugees.”
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Horizons launches with the release of the Young Vic’s latest short film, Astoria, written and directed by Paul Mason, former economics editor of Channel 4 News and BBC’s Newsnight. It follows a Syrian refugee’s journey to the West. Once there, an encounter with the past in a Budapest hotel draws a parallel between Europe’s historical and current response to refugees.

We’ve also announced Now We Are Here (20 – 30 Jul) which tells the true stories of four LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people, all asylum seekers and refugees living in the UK. Over eight months, they participated in a series of workshops at the Young Vic led by director Ian Rickson and in partnership with charity Micro Rainbow International. Now, working with award-winning poet and spoken word artist Deanna Rodger, four actors will bring these important stories of intolerance, belonging and courage to the Young Vic’s Clare studio. The strictly limited run of performances will be free to attend. To book tickets, click here. We are welcoming donations to two charities, Micro Rainbow International and Room to Heal, chosen by our collaborators which work with refugees in the UK. Donations can be give online when booking free tickets or at our box office.

Previously announced work in the Horizons programme includes Queens of Syria, a multimedia production featuring an all-female cast of Syrian performing a new version of The Trojan Women, to the background of the award-winning documentary of their story. Queens of Syria is performed in Arabic and will tour the UK following its opening at the Young Vic (5 – 9 July). And A Man of Good Hope, co-produced with South Africa’s Isango Ensemble and the Royal Opera House, brings to life Jonny Steinberg’s extraordinary book about one refugee’s journey from Mogadishu to Cape Town. A Man of Good Hope runs at the Young Vic from 6 Oct – 12 Nov. Tickets for both shows are on sale now.

We’re also excited to announce that pioneering theatre company Good Chance will have a new base here at the Young Vic. As the company prepares to develop and continue its work with refugees, it will receive support from the Young Vic team. Joe and Joe said:
“We are thrilled to be working with the Young Vic. Having a home is so important. We know this from the people we work with. We are thankful to the Young Vic for giving us a home in London as we strive to build new theatres of hope.”

We are also delighted to receive a Theatre of Sanctuary Award from City of Sanctuary. The Award recognises our past and current endeavours to raise awareness of refugee communities and to take action to welcome and include them in its activities.
Amongst other projects in recent months, in April 2016 the Young Vic hosted the free-to-attend Beyond Borders conference in association with Counterpoints Arts and Platforma. The day provided a chance for artists and companies to hear about the Young Vic’s work with refugees and asylum seekers and to open up discussions on wider themes including pathways for artists from refugee and migrant backgrounds, how participatory work can link to a theatre’s programming, and international connections between artists.
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More on our Horizons announcement here: www.youngvic.org/horizons

Off Book – a podcast by the Young Vic

Our new podcast series, Off Book, is now available to stream and download from Soundcloud and iTunes.

Each episode will feature an interview with one of the exciting artists who have visited us recently. Our first episode is with legendary director Peter Brook, which was recorded in Feb 2016 whilst Battlefield was on in the Main House.

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Our conversations bring to light people’s first experiences with the arts and theatre, how their background has informed the work they produce today and how it has developed throughout their career. Make sure to subscribe on either Soundcloud or iTunes to hear our latest episodes as they’re released.

JUST ANNOUNCED: Billie Piper is Yerma + extra dates added

We’re so excited to reveal that Billie Piper will play Yerma in Simon Stone’s new version of Federico García Lorca’s masterpiece.

Billie Piper
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Billie Piper makes her Young Vic debut as Yerma. Her previous theatre credits include: Great Britain, The Effect – Olivier nomination for Best Actress (National Theatre); Reasons To Be Pretty (Almeida),Treats – Evening Standard Theatre nomination for Best Actress (Garrick). Her film work includes: City of Tiny Lights, Animals United, Things to Do Before You’re 30, The Calcium Kid and Spirit Trap. Television credits include: Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, Doctor Who, A Passionate Woman, The Shadow in the North, The Ruby in the Smoke, Much Ado About Nothing, True Love, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Canterbury Tales: The Miller’s Tale and Mansfield Park.

This achingly powerful story of a young woman desperate to become a mother expresses the anguish of a society battling to free itself from its past. Simon Stone’s new version re-imagines Lorca’s original for London today.

Stone’s version of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck was a sensation at the Barbican in 2014. Now he writes and directs his first original work for the UK.

As well as this incredible casting news, we’re also extending Yerma‘s run due to huge demand for tickets. The production will now play until 24 Sept and you can book now for the extra dates.

Yerma plays at the Young Vic from 28 July – 24 Sept, to book tickets click here.