Announcing YV:ID, a five-week festival of digital and live events around the themes of identity

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of Young Vic today announced YV:ID, a five-week festival of digital and live events taking place throughout February and March 2019, which aim to catalyse debates around the themes of identity. 

YV:ID festival will include: Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, a series of monologues commissioned by BBC Arts and produced in partnership with Sir Lenny Henry’s production company Douglas Road Productions, exploring themes of personal and cultural identity through the eyes of an Afro-Caribbean family from the 1940s to the present day, which will air on BBC Four in February; My England, a collection of fourteen short films by writers, directors and performers from across the country, exploring the notions of ‘englishness’ and English national identity, which will be released online in March ahead of Brexit; The 8 Club, is a five-part web series investigating the notion of ‘toxic masculinity’, and some of the issues facing future generations in the wake of the positive social change brought about by #MeToo.

The Young Vic will host a series of accompanying live debate events at the theatre to run parallel to each project.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, said today, “The stages of the Young Vic have always been a place dedicated to asking the most profound questions in artistically compelling ways. It’s not just the art we invite into these four walls but also the discourse we send beyond them. After seven years in America, I returned home to a country which seemed amidst an identity crisis. YV:ID is a way to catalyse a debate about those perceptions, and, as part of our commitment to channelling work into the digital world, we are also bringing these discussions into the digital sphere to reach new audiences and continue the conversation outside of our four walls.”



Sir Lenny Henry in Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle. Photo by Carlton Dixon

Commissioned by BBC Arts and co-produced by Sir Lenny Henry’s production company Douglas Road Productions and the Young Vic, Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, are eight 15-minute heartfelt monologues set in and around the front room of an Afro-Caribbean home. The monologues, which will broadcast on BBC Four in February, follow the highs and lows of one family from their arrival in England in the 1940s up to the present day as they explore their hopes and desires, challenges and shattered dreams.

They have been curated by the Young Vic’s Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and feature some of the UK’s finest acting talent including Sir Lenny Henry (The Long Song), Vinette Robinson (Doctor Who), Montserrat Lombard (Upstart Crow), Danielle Vitalis (Attack the Block), Clifford Samuel (McMafia), Gamba Cole (Damilola: Our Loved Boy), Elliot Barnes-Worrell (Jericho), Jonathan Jules (Invasion Earth), and Olivia-Mai Barrett (Penny on M.A.R.S).

The eight films are written by a team of leading writers for television and stage: Carmen Harris (EastEnders), Angie Le Mar (Funny Black Women on the Edge), Roy Williams (Clubland), Juliet Gilkes Romero (Creative Fellow at RSC), Carol Russell (The Story of Tracy Beaker), Clint Dyer (Sylvia Plath for Royal Court), Nathaniel Martello-White (Blackta for Young Vic), and Kwame Kwei-Armah (Elmina’s Kitchen). The monologues will air on BBC Four in February.

As part of YV:ID, the Young Vic will also be programming a live discussion event hosted by Afua Hirsch, with Lenny Henry and Kwame Kwei-Armah at the theatre on 21 February, around notions of cultural identity and self-definition in the 21st century.



My England is a series of fourteen filmed monologues from across England, commissioned and produced by the Young Vic and created by writers, actors and directors exploring how they define “Englishness” and what it means to be English right now. Half the monologues were filmed on location in the regions the writers are from, including Coventry, Halifax, Luton, Peak District, Plymouth, Middlesbrough and London, and the other half were filmed at the Young Vic, performed by actors from the local neighbourhood in collaboration with the Young Vic’s Taking Part department.

The writers include Javaad Alipoor (England’s Red with Christopher Eccleston), Michael Bhim (The Question), Ishy Din (UTB!), Kenneth Emson (Mayday), Lynette Linton (Simone), Zodwa Nyoni (On Belonging), Bea Roberts (Sir F. Mother Fucking Drake with Jenny Rainsford), Jack Rooke (The Game), Lucy J. Skilbeck (Big Ben), Stef Smith (How To Grow A Nation with Kate Dickie), Polly Stenham (Flat White with Ophelia Lovibond), Simon Stephens (she), Selina Thompson (I Feel Most English When… with Ronke Adekoluejo) and Jack Thorne (Luton? with Mat Fraser). Directors include Young Vic Genesis Fellow, Nadia Latif, and Rodney Charles.

The films will be released via the Young Vic website and social media channels from 25 February. The Young Vic will host an accompanying event on 12 March, bringing together members of the public with politicians, artists and social commentators to explore the identity of a nation as it’s going through a divorce, and to ask how we define “englishness” in our potentially fractious society.


A Young Vic co-production with David Weale-Cochrane and Kwame (KZ) Kwei-Armah Jr.


Photo by Matthew Cutler

The 8 Club is an online video series exploring the notion of ‘toxic masculinity’ and the legacy young men have inherited from the ideas of masculinity as defined by generations before them. Each episode tackles the subjects that surround and affect young men today, focussing on provocative and often unspoken topics for men, such as mental health, money, sex, violence and personal relationships and how these topics are viewed in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the wider impact this has on gender politics.T

Participants in The 8 Club include JJ Bola, Michael Brooks, Ned Dukes, Matt Harvey, Roly Hunter, LionHeart, Simon Anthony Mitchell, Adam Pugh, Michael Simon, Jordan Stephens, Elric Stockley and Jamell Williams. The films will be released via the Young Vic social media channels from 11 March, and the Young Vic will host an accompanying live event on 21 March which explores some of the questions around gender politics which are facing the next generation.

#The8Club  #ManCanTalk

Meet the Community Chorus | Twelfth Night

Community Chorus members dancing. Photography by Johan Persson

Our musical adaptation of Twelfth Night cast includes a 60-strong Community Chorus of  non-professional performers from across our local boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth.

Kaleya Baxe, who is currently on placement with our Taking Part team has been meeting with some of the Community Chorus in order to find out more about this fascinating, talented and diverse group of performers.

Our work with young people and our local communities is a major part of our artistic life. At a deep level, it complements and enhances each of the shows we produce.

Our Taking Part team engage with over 15,000 people a year. We offer young people and our neighbours free tickets to all our shows. We also run a wide range of projects, from skills based workshops to a chance to perform on one of our stages.

Take a look at our website to find out more about Taking Part and how you can get involved.

Catherine Coker


One day after I’d retired I was going round the back of the Young Vic and I saw all these children so I went and stood in the doorway to see what they were doing- I have an awfully curious mind unfortunately. Suddenly, a man came out and counted me in with them! So I followed them into a room with a piano and he asked us to sing but unfortunately I couldn’t remember all the words. So I thought, Ella Fitzgerald didn’t use words, here we go: da ba da dip da ba baa da ba! I went home laughing the whole way. Then the next morning they called and said, you’re going to join us, aren’t you? And I thought, what have I done?! But I found myself in a most beautiful production and have been in many ever since.

Vanessa Doidge


I got involved in the Young Vic originally through work ’cause I worked in drug, alcohol and mental health. I signed up through my work so that I could support clients to come and take part in workshops and watch some of the plays cause a lot of people had never been to the theatre before. It’s been a real confidence boost particularly this year where I lost quite a bit of confidence in my previous job so doing Twelfth Night has kind of boosted me up a little bit cause I felt like I couldn’t really do anything and I was a bit useless, I’m just gonna sit at home and cry.  But now I got involved with this and I thought actually, I’m not useless and I can do things and it’s just kind of pushed me forward. I also got a job interview and I got the job because I felt more confident so, yeah I think this experience at this time has been really good.

Sarah Trustman


I first got involved with the Young Vic when the Taking Part team did a performance with a Year 9 class in one of the spaces at the Young Vic performed with a proper set and costume and script writers. I thought it was an amazing thing for the students because there’s not much availability for young people to have access to theatre, and also a lot of them were black or from mixed ethnic backgrounds which they felt like at the time, this is 2012, wasn’t as represented as it is now. Nowadays pretty much everything that my students see has been through the YV free ticket scheme which is so good because with a class of 20 when a West End ticket costs £45, it’s never gonna happen. And these students come from quite poor backgrounds, our free school meal percentage is something like 64%, it’s really high so it just means they have access to really high quality performance where they feel like they’re welcome and they’re represented.

Millie Lynch Bailey


This experience has been really different because I’ve done two other chorusey things and both of those were only young women, so it was me and other girls my age, whereas this is the first time it’s been a totally diverse chorus in every sense; in age, in gender, in race. There are people who are teachers and people who are students and people who work in offices- like there’s one girl studying law so it’s just a completely different bunch. In this I get to make friends with people who I almost certainly would not have met otherwise.

Neil Penlington


I danced with Matthew Bourne from 1995 to 2006, so the original cast Swan Lake and then every show in between, Cinderella, Carmen, Highland Fling, Spitfire to name a few. Having previously been in the theatre and then coming back in a very different guise, there’s kind of this secret shroud here the minute you walk in, you just feel protected. I think what the Young Vic does here, you never feel like you’re community chorus, you always feel equal from the beginning really. And the principle cast, they’re a phenomenal bunch of people and they just all make us feel as one. I think that comes across in the show. But yeah, there’s a real sense of community and that’s what the Young Vic’s all about really.

Eddy Queens

Eddy Q.jpg

How I got involved in the Young Vic was doing a show called See Me Now about prostitution and sex workers. Because I’m a recovering addict and I used to prostitute myself, my friend told me about the show so I got involved and got the part. But the thing was that during rehearsals, I don’t want to get emotional but I was actually informed that my mother had passed and the team were fantastic and really held me you know? Then we were in rehearsals when the show went to Edinburgh and I got the call saying my dad had passed and I just felt like, every time I was at the YV I got the news but I was so grateful because had I not been at the YV I don’t know what I would have done you know, I mean, I’ve been clean now 8 years but because I had a commitment to the Young Vic it really kept me going.

Chris McGoldrick

Chris M

I’m a musician originally from Glasgow but been in London for 35 years now. Working with the Young Vic, there isn’t a highlight- there’s lots of highlights. For me when I feel really good is doing a great show like this is good fun you know and you’re in a better mood when you leave the building than when you came in, so that’s good. But for me it’s just kinda a selfish thing and that’s to get a free education in theatre making.

Pixie Maddison

Pixie M.jpg

I’ve always sort of drifted through life, my big joke was that my ambition was to have an ambition. I was homeless for a while and I’d just got myself sorted out and a friend of mine said, oh there’s a play about homelessness at the Young Vic do you wanna get involved? Yeah why not? So I came along and I ended up doing a bit where I told a story about when I was in care and I had 9 backing singers and I gradually climbed up this white sweeping staircase and sang ‘You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman’. And suddenly, I was one line ahead and I had the audience, I could make them cry, I could make them laugh, I just felt so empowered. And I thought, I’m gonna do this.

Twelfth Night runs at the Young Vic until 17 November. Tickets are now sold out but you can contact our Welcome Team on the day for returns and we operate a returns queue before each performance. Call our Welcome Team on 020 7922 2922.

First Look: Twelfth Night Production Photos

Our highly anticipated musical adaptation of Twelfth Night is now in previews at the Young Vic. You’re in the right place if you are looking for your first glimpse of this joyous gem of a production.

Twelfth Night is conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah & Shaina Taub. Music & Lyrics by Shaina Taub. Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah & Oskar Eustis

Set Designer Robert Jones, Costume Designer Brigitte Reiffenstuel, Lighting Designer Tim Lutkin

Book tickets from £10:

Community Chorus members dancing. Photography by Johan PerssonGabrielle Brooks & Rupert Young in Twelfth Night. Photography by Johan PerssonCommunity Chorus members dancing. Photography by Johan PerssonGabrielle Brooks & Melissa Allan in Twelfth Night. Photography by Johan PerssonNatalie Dew in Twelfth Night. Photography by Johan PerssonMartyn Ellis and Gerard Carey in Twelfth Night. Photography by Johan Persson

Twelfth Night runs at the Young Vic until 17 November. Limited tickets from £10. Find out more and book tickets now on our website.

Photography by Johan Persson

First look inside the Twelfth Night rehearsal room

Take your first look inside the rehearsal room for our upcoming musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night which opens for previews in just two weeks time.

Directed by our Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and Oskar Eustis, this production is set to be an injection of joy for audiences this Autumn and we can’t wait!

This celebration of love in all its forms features an awe-inspiring community chorus from Southwark and Lambeth with music and lyrics by the critically acclaimed songwriter Shaina Taub.

Twelfth Night runs at the Young Vic from 2 Oct until 17 Nov. Tickets from £10.

Find out more and book tickets now.

Paul Willcocks (Fabian) & Gbemisola Ikumelo (Maria) inside the rehearsal room
Paul Willcocks (Fabian) & Gbemisola Ikumelo (Maria) / Photography by Johan Persson
Silas Wyatt-Barke (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) inside the Twelfth Night rehearsal room
Silas Wyatt-Barke (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) / Photography by Johan Persson
Gabrielle Brooks (Viola) inside the Twelfth Night rehearsal room
Gabrielle Brooks (Viola) / Photography by Johan Persson
Gbemisola Ikumelo (Maria), Gerard Carey (Malvolio) & Natalie Dew (Olivia)
Gbemisola Ikumelo (Maria), Gerard Carey (Malvolio) & Natalie Dew (Olivia) / Photography by Johan Persson

Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and Melissa Allan (Feste) / Photography by Johan Persson

Gbemisola Ikumelo (Maria) / Photography by Johan Persson

Jyuddah Jaymes (Sebastian) / Photography by Johan Persson

Gerard Carey (Malvolio) and choreographer Lizzi Gee / Photography by Johan Persson

Musical Director Sean Green / Photography by Johan Persson
Gerard Carey (Malvolio) / Photography by Johan Persson
Rupert Young (Duke Orsino) / Photography by Johan Persson
Jonathan Livingstone (Antonio) / Photography by Johan Persson
Natalie Dew (Olivia) / Photography by Johan Persson
Martyn Ellis (Sir Toby Belch) / Photography by Johan Persson
Gabrielle Brooks (Viola) / Photography by Johan Persson
Kwame Kwei-Armah (director) / Photography by Johan Persson

Shakespeare gets a shake-up as soulful melodies and R&B beats weave through this enchanting musical adaptation of Twelfth Night.

This celebration of love in all its forms features an awe-inspiring community chorus from Southwark and Lambeth with music and lyrics by the critically acclaimed songwriter Shaina Taub.

Book tickets now:

Black Panther’s Letitia Wright to star in The Convert at the Young Vic


Letitia Wright will play the role of Jekesai/Ester in the Young Vic production of Black Panther co-star, and Tony-nominated writer Danai Gurira’s The Convert.

She is cast alongside Paapa Essiedu (RSC Hamlet) who plays Chilford, and Ivanno Jeremiah (Humans) taking on the role of Chancellor.

Further casting includes: Jude Akuwudike (Uncle); Rudolphe Mdlongwa (Tamba); Pamela Nomvete (Mai Tamba). The casting of the role of Prudence will be announced at a later date.

Directed by Ola Ince The Convert, set in 1896 in what is modern day Zimbabwe, explores if faith has a cost and if so, when that cost is too much.  Jekesai, a young Shona woman fleeing forced marriage finds herself working for devout Catholic priest, Chilford. He relishes the opportunity to shape his new convert but Jekesai’s salvation has a price.

The Convert will run at the Young Vic from 7 Dec – 26 Jan 2019. Limited tickets are available from £10.

Photo credit: Kwaku Alston

Win a pair of tickets to the sold-out Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home

Fun Home PROD-1198

Become a Friend of the YV by midnight on Thursday 16 August and you’ll be in with a chance to win a pair of tickets to a sold out-performance of the Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home on Thursday 30 August. Join us for an exclusive pre-show drinks reception with some of our supporters before you enjoy the show.

By becoming a Friend you’ll be supporting the Directors Program, our unique training program for emerging directors, and Taking Part, our deep rooted education and engagement program in our local area.

We are dedicated to nurturing the next generation of artists and enhancing the lives of our local community. Come join us.

How to Enter?

Sign up to become a Friend or Good Friend of the Young Vic before midnight on Thursday 16 August and email to confirm your entry.

Terms and Conditions

The winner will be selected at random from entrants and contacted on Thursday 23 August. Entrants must become a YV Friend or Good Friend before midnight on Thursday 16 August 2018 to enter. 1 pair of tickets for the Fun Home performance at 19:30 on Thursday 30 August.

Jenna Russell in Fun Home at the Young Vic. Photo by Marc Brenner

11 Questions with Kaisa Hammarlund | Fun Home

We took some time out to sit down with the wonderful Kaisa Hammarlund who plays Adult Alison in the critically acclaimed musical Fun Home which is currently playing to sell-out audiences at the Young Vic.

1. Can you describe your character in Fun Home in three words?

Be-quiffed, Lesbian, Cartoonist

2. What’s you’re favourite thing about working with the director Sam Gold?

His attempts at cockney rhyming slang! And his wonderful patience.

3. What can the audience expect from this production that’s different to anything else they are likely to have seen before?

A lesbian protagonist and a fake Tiffany lamp!

4. What invention do you think the world is lacking right now?

An environmental conscience.

5. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

I’ll be putting gel in my Bechdel-quiff!

6. What is your favourite project you have worked on as an actor?

Why, this of course! And I loved playing Charity in Sweet Charity at the lovely Royal Exchange in Manchester.

7. Is you could travel anywhere in the universe, where would you go and why?

I’d go to Australia to have a quick post-show cocktail with my best Swedish mate.

8. What was it that first got you interested in the theatre?

It was on a school trip to see a local production of Blood Brothers.

9. Who is your ultimate hero, and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

I’m with them in my dressing room every day! The ladies of Fun Home.

10. What is your favourite midnight snack?

Anything pickled!

11. If you could have been born in any era, which would it be and why?

800 AD in the Viking Age of Scandinavia. When men and women were equal warriors!

Fun Home runs at the Young Vic until 1 Sept. Find out more about the production here. Tickets are sold out but you are welcome to queue for returns on the day.