11 Questions with the cast of The Jungle | Mohamed Sarrar

We sat down with Mohamed Sarrar who plays Omar in  The Jungle here at the Young Vic. Mohamed, who is originally from Sudan, came through the Calais “Jungle” before successfully making the crossing to the UK. A drummer and singer, he took part in Good Chance Theatre’s programme while there and since coming to the UK has performed in The Welcoming Party at Manchester International Festival and Borderline at the Brighton fringe.

1. Can you describe your character in The Jungle in three words?

Musical, energetic, soulful.

2.  What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this particular Young Vic production?

Being on the Young Vic stage and being able to tell people about the refugee crisis.

3. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

Hopefully audiences will feel closer to the crisis – and be inspired to help in their own small way.

4. Did you do anything unusual to prepare for this role?

I spent time in the Jungle camp so I didn’t need to prepare as I’d already lived there!

5. What was it like working with Good Chance Theatre?

I have always loved working with Good Chance Theatre, since the first time I found them. They treat refugees as humans. It’s an honour for me to work with them.

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

Having a chat with the other performers and doing some humming as a vocal warm up.

Ammar Haj Ahmad (Safi) and Nahel Tzegai (Helene) in The Jungle at the Young Vic © Leon Puplett.jpg

Ammar Haj Ahmad (Safi) and Nahel Tzegai (Helene) in The Jungle at the Young Vic © Leon Puplett.

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Not to lose touch with anyone who was kind to you.

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

I don’t have a specific one!

9. What is your favourite play (that you’ve seen / read / worked on)?

It’s actually a play I saw at the Young Vic – A Man of Good Hope.

10. What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud.

This really funny Arabic joke about a pen – I can’t tell you it.

11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something that you’ve never told anyone before.

Back home in Sudan, I fell in love with my Chemistry teacher, so I deliberately left the answers blank on my exam so my family would get me tutoring with her. If my dad found out he’d be very angry!

The Jungle runs until 9 Jan. Find out more about the production here. Tickets are sold out but you are welcome to queue for returns on the day. 

Casting announcement: meet cast of The Jungle

We’re thrilled today to announce the cast for The Jungle – a co-production between Young Vic and the National Theatre with Good Chance Theatre, commissioned by the National Theatre. Running at the Young Vic from 7 Dec 2017 – 6 Jan 2018.

This is a truly global cast which includes actors from Afghanistan, Algeria, Eritrea, Iran, Sudan, Syria, the UK and Zimbabwe, including many from refugee backgrounds, some of whom came through the Calais ‘Jungle’.

raphael-acloque.jpg

Raphael Acloque makes his Young Vic debut in The Jungle. 
Theatre includes:
As You Like It, Rabbit, Fast Labour, Nell Gwyn, Macbeth, Hindle Wakes, The Lady’s Tragedy, The Rivals, Death and the Maiden, The Comedy of Errors, The Duchess of Malfi (LAMDA)
Television includes:
24: Legacy, Knightfall, Humans, Tyrant, The Secret Agent, Versailles, La Maison D’Alexina
Film includes:
Allied, Burnt, The Danish Girl

Ammar Haj Ahmad makes his Young Vic debut in The Jungle.Ammar-Haj-Ahmad.jpg
Theatre includes: LOVE (National Theatre / Birmingham Repertory); The Great Survey of Hastings (Ladie’s Parlour); Goats/Told From the Inside (Royal Court); Kan Yama (Cockpit Theatre); Mawlana (Mosaic Rooms); The Knight and the Crescent Hare (UK tour); Babel (Caledonian Park); One Thousand and One Nights (The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, Toronto / Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh)
Television includes: Agatha Raisin, Letters from Baghdad plus many other Arabic television credits
Film includes: London Tomorrow, ALEGNA, Wall, Round Trip, Maqha Almawt, Wada’an, Monologue

Aliya Ali makes her Young Vic debut.

Mohammad-Amiri.jpg

Mohammad Amiri makes his Young Vic debut in The Jungle.
Theatre includes:
Boy (Almeida)
Television includes: Unforgotten 2
Film includes: Fighting With My Family, City of Tiny Lights

 

Alyssa Denise D’Sousa makes her Young Vic debut.

Elham Ehsas makes his Young Vic debut.

trevor-fox.jpgTrevor Fox makes his Young Vic debut in The Jungle. 
Theatre includes:
People Places & Things (UK Tour), Common (National Theatre), Billy Elliot, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (West End); The Pitman Painters (National Theatre / New York); The Tempest, Cymbeline, The Oresteia, Measure For Measure, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Globe); Children’s Children, King Lear (Almeida)
Television includes: The Moonstone, Beowulf, Joe Maddison’s War, The Walk Daddy’s Girl, Our Friends In The North
Film includes: Bridget Jones – The Edge Of Reason, Billy Elliot

Moein Ghobsheh makes her Young Vic debut.

michael-gould.jpgMichael Gould returns to the Young Vic after appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A View from the Bridge (also West End / Broadway), Hamlet, Cruel and Tender. 
Theatre includes:
Waves, Women of Troy, Earthquakes in London, Our Class (National); The Audience (Apollo); The Ugly One (Royal Court); Othello (RSC); King Lear (Shakespeare’s Globe)
Television includes: Man Down, The Trial, Decline and Fall, The Bletchley Circle, Silent Witness, Wallander,
Film includes: Darkest Hour, Rogue One, Our Kind of Traitor, Crocodile, Private Peaceful, Room 8 (BAFTA Best Short)

Ansu-Kabia.jpgAnsu Kabia makes his Young Vic debut in The Jungle. 
Theatre includes: 
Hamlet (RADA), Romeo and Juliet, Harlequinade, The Winter’s Tale (Garrick); To Sir With Love (Royal & Derngate / Tour); The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Mouse and His Child, Mojo, Little Eagles, Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear, As You Like It (RSC); She Rode Horses Like The Stock Exchange (Old Vic) and A Few Man Fridays (Cardboard Citizens)
Television includes: Wizards Vs Aliens, London’s Burning, Utopia, The Bill, 10 Days To War and Casualty
Film includes: Murder On The Orient Express
Bruk Kumelay makes his Young Vic debut.

Alex-Lawther.jpgAlex Lawther makes his Young Vic debut in The Jungle. 
Theatre includes:
Crushed Shells and Mud (Southwark Playhouse); The Glass Supper, Fault Lines (Hampstead Theatre); and South Downs (Harold Pinter/Chichester)
Television includes: The End of the Fucking World, Howards End, Black Mirror
Film includes: Ghost Stories, Goodbye Christoper Robin, Freak Show, Old Boys, Departure (winner, Best Actor – Dublin International Film Festival), The Imitation Game (winner, Young British Performer – London Film Critics’ Circle) and X+Y

Jo McInnes 1 (1).jpgJo McInnes makes her Young Vic debut in The Jungle. 
Theatre includes
Wastewater, Fleshwound, Bluebird (Royal Court); The House Of Bernarda Alba, The Children’s Hour (National Theatre); M.A.D (Bush); On Blindness,dirty butterfly (Soho Theatre);
Television includesEternal Law, Five Daughters, Material Girl, Recovery, Afterlife, Sorted, The World Of Impressionists, Spooks, Living It, Playing The Field
Film includesMe and Orson Welles, The New Romantics, My Wife is an Actress, Birthday Girl, Gangster No. 1
Jo also works extensively as a director.

John-Pfumojena.jpgJohn Pfumojena makes his Young Vic debut in The Jungle.
Theatre includes: Bent, Peter Pan (National Theatre); Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe); Workshop Negative (The Gate); I Am Thomas (National Theatre of Scotland); Beasty Baby (Theatre Rights/Polka Theatre); Now You See Me (Immediate Theatre); The Maids (Zimbabwe tour); Water, Bread And Salt (Tangle Café and UK tour); Dream Nation (UK tour); Much Ado About Nothing (Reps Theatre Zimbabwe); The Coup, Waiting For Constitution (Theatre In The Park, Zimbabwe) and Diary Of A Madman (Spear Theatre Zimbabwe)

Rachel-Redford.jpgRachel Redford makes her Young Vic debut in The Jungle.
Theatre includes: The Crucible (Manchester Royal Exchange); Luna Gale (Hampstead Theatre); Closer (Donmar Warehouse); A Ghost From A Perfect Place (Arcola); Adler & Gibb (Royal Court); Not The Worst Place (Sherman Theatre / Theatr Clwyd); Parallel Lines (Chapter Arts Centre); A Family Affair (Sherman Theatre); The Acid Test, Blue Stockings, King Lear (RADA) and Romeo & Juliet (The Gate, Cardiff)
Television includes: Gap Year
Film includes: Testament Of Youth, The Riot Club and Nights

 

Rachid-Sabitri.jpgRachid Sabitri makes his Young Vic debut in The Jungle.
Theatre includes: Aladdin (West End); Romeo and Juliet (West End); I Call My Brothers (Off Broadway and Arcola); Twelfth Night (Westport Country Playhouse and Northampton Theatre Royal); Rafta Rafta (Old Globe, San Diego & National Theatre UK tour); The Tale of the Allergists Wife (La Marida Playhouse, LA)
Television includes: Homeland, Criminal Minds, Madam secretary, Generation Kill, Dr Who, The Odds, The Walk, Wannabes, The Bill, Casualty, Family Business, Blue Murder 
Radio includes: Silver Street, Together

Mohamed Sarrar makes his Young Vic debut.

ben-turner.jpgBen Turner returns to the Young Vic after appearing in Soldier’s Fortune.
Theatre includes: The Kite Runner, As You Like It (Wynham’s Theatre / UK tour); The Iliad (Royal Lyceum Theatre); Maiden Voices From The Uprising (Royal Court); Richard II, Caligula (Donmar Warehouse); Awake And Sing (Almeida) Measure For Measure/Habeus Corpus (tour) The Merchant Of Venice (RSC / tour)
Television includes: The Coroner, WPC 56, Death In Paradise, Casualty, The Bill, Dr Who, Love Soup
Film includes: Six Days, 300: Rise Of An Empire, The Fifth Estate, Adulthood, Syriana

Nahel-Tzegai.jpgNahel Tzegai makes her Young Vic debut in The Jungle.
Theatre includes: How It Ended (Bush Theatre); Ring (BAC); The Ship’s Name (Royal Court); You Are Currently The Highest Bidder, Block 9, Virtually_Real (Roundhouse) and Isilwanyana Esoyikekayo (Trinity College)
Radio includes: Black Dog, Cuttin’ It and The Brave Little Tailor

The Jungle is directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, and written by Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy – the joint-artistic directors of Good Chance Theatre which was originally based in the ‘Jungle’ in Calais and then in the north of Paris next to the refugee welcome centre for the first half of 2017.

10% of tickets for The Jungle will be offered to refugees.

Find out more about the show and book your tickets here.

Calais: A write up from the Jungle | Part 4

Lily Einhorn is the Two Boroughs Project Manager at the Young Vic, working with local residents and community groups in the neighbourhood. She is also a freelance writer and community theatre practitioner. In a series of posts Lily shares her experience of a recent visit to the Good Chance Theatre, a newly constructed creative space in the refugee camp in Calais.

There are hundreds of stories. All different. These people are labourers, students, artists, shop keepers, restauranteurs, engineers, public administrators, children.

Those children will never make it over the fence, though. They may have walked for eight months to get here but here the journey ends. Except the Jungle isn’t an end for anyone. It’s stasis. A place where life crawls along, not forward, not back, just along. That’s why the Good Chance Theatre is not a luxury, not a panacea, it’s a lifeline. Its breath for those gasping for air. There is, in the act of imagination, of illusion, inherent hope. In the small moments between reality and fiction there is a space to exist in that transcends the mud, the tents, the asbestos, the unwashed hair and damp clothes. That space is the theatre tent. And without it these people’s lives would be moments bleaker.

I don’t doubt that there are tears in the jungle. There must be depression. Despair. The children’s mothers can’t keep them washed, fed, warm. Men can’t reach their families. Loved ones are held apart by invisible immigration laws so strong you can feel them. It is unimaginable to me. Me with a red passport which means I can keep my child close, keep her washed, fed, warm. That means I don’t have any other recourse but to imagine a horror that might compel me to put her on a boat, leave her behind, or send her ahead. These refugees don’t have to imagine that reality. They’re living it. There must be tears in the jungle, but I didn’t see many of them. People are too busy surviving to cry.

*            *            *

As we drove out, groups of men in black clothes trudge towards the fence, towards an uncertain future. The fog hangs thick in the air but it’s hard not to look at their bent backs and feel hopeless. A high barbed fence. A drop. A run through a dark tunnel or a ride in a suffocating lorry. A field in Kent. Many of these men have family in the other side. A daughter in Wembley. Parents in Manchester. A brother in Bradford.  It’s impossible to say whether they’ll ever achieve the reunion that keeps them going, one foot in front of the other, into the night.

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Calais: A write up from the Jungle | Part 3

Lily Einhorn is the Two Boroughs Project Manager at the Young Vic, working with local residents and community groups in the neighbourhood. She is also a freelance writer and community theatre practitioner. In a series of posts Lily shares her experience of a recent visit to the Good Chance Theatre, a newly constructed creative space in the refugee camp in Calais.

The preservation of hearts is really how, and why, the Good Chance Theatre exists. Two young playwrights, Joes Murphy and Robertson went to visit the camp and decided it needed an arts space. So they set one up. A large, white dome stands glinting in the sun in the middle of Afghanistan. Originally pitched in Sudan to compensate for that area’s lack of infrastructure, it was moved after the French authorities decided to build there – to date nothing has been started. So they moved it. Took it down, set it up again, with around 50 volunteers – scrambling and banging and heaving it into existence. It is a space for expression. For joy. For hope. To talk. To sing. It is a space to feel a little bit normal in. To re-imagine yourself not as a refugee but as someone who can dance or draw or simply listen.

It has been up and running a relatively short time in its new home when my colleagues and myself visited. Men drift in and out, sometimes curious, sometimes bored. If there’s something going in they might join in. Both Joes want to establish a routine – they have an event every night at 7pm. A film night, a music night, spoken word nights. We were there for all three. We learned Afghan dancing to the strains of Sudanese music played on iPhones, guitars, and sung – loudly. We listened to mournful laments, so beautiful they silenced the din. We stood back as men danced with abandon in their coats as rain splattered against the white sheeting. For the spoken word night we set up the stage, lit hundreds of tea lights and settled down in the glimmer. Joe and Joe performed poems and speeches to start the men off, Gbolahan performed one of his poems, then the refugees – the participants – took to the stage. Stories were told in Arabic, Farsi and Pashtun. Some were translated. Some were not. A young man sang a love song to his feet. At some point we had to call it a night but it could have gone on into the small hours, story giving rise to story to song. In the day the tent is a workshop space. Anything can happen. We ran sessions on games that turned Into drawing. We played Grandmother’s Footsteps. We taught children the Hokey Cokey and Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. They learned fast. Whenever we did drawing, everyone, adults and child, drew flags or homes. The places they had left behind. We decorated the tent walls with colourful images. And I wondered how many British children could draw the British flag. Or would ever feel the need to.

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Calais: A write up from the Jungle | Part 2

Lily Einhorn is the Two Boroughs Project Manager at the Young Vic, working with local residents and community groups in the neighbourhood. She is also a freelance writer and community theatre practitioner. In a series of posts Lily shares her experience of a recent visit to the Good Chance Theatre, a newly constructed creative space in the refugee camp in Calais.

Walking through the settlements, people stop, we shake hands, everyone wants to say hello, ask where you are from. Britain, we say. England. London. Eyes widen. England is the promised land. It’s just not clear who it was promised to. Not these people. Some have walked for eight months to get to the UK. They have trekked over mountains in Afghanistan and desserts in Sudan and paid people smugglers to ride in lorries. They have sailed on make-shift rafts. They have jumped on trains. And then they reach Calais. Between this existence and a new life stand five, tall, wire fences. Wide rolls of barbed wire perching on top. It’s the only option. ‘Each one harder harder than the next,’ says an Afghan man. By the fifth you have to stand, three men on each other’s shoulders. Then you haul the last man up by rope. You’ve done this? I ask. ‘Of course,’ he shrugs. Shows me the scars from the wire, on his face, his hands, his ripped jacket. Then the police send them back. A fair cop. He lived in Stevenage for nine years before being deported on the 26th March of this year. After 11 days at home he fled again: ‘Taliban everywhere,’ with his two younger brothers. It cost them £36000 to get out. He dropped them off in Germany. They’re under 18 and being fostered by a family, ‘They’re happy.’ But he wants to return to the UK. He showed us his British driving licence. He will try again tonight. Five fences, then jump on a goods train or find a place under a stationary lorry. Or not. If he makes it, he’ll claim asylum immediately. ‘I don’t want to be illegal. I’ve never had nothing, no benefits, I work.’

Mish Mish is also from Afghanistan. Older, he has adopted his two year old boy’s nickname for food. He wears the toddlerism like a protective badge. He hasn’t seen him for months. He left, to try to get to England so he can send for his family. He asks me if I have children so I show him a picture of my own two year old. He looks for a long time. ‘She is yellow hair!’ He can’t show me his – the French police took his phone with all his pictures on it. He tells me he managed to speak to his family the night before. His boy, Akhbar, asked him when he would be coming back to play with him again. Then he asked him why his voice sounded funny. Mish Mish mimed holding the phone away from his head while tears streamed down his face. He couldn’t tell him why. The older man’s heart is already broken, he is trying to preserve his son’s.

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Calais: A write up from the Jungle | Part 1

Lily Einhorn is the Two Boroughs Project Manager at the Young Vic, working with local residents and community groups in the neighbourhood. She is also a freelance writer and community theatre practitioner. In a series of posts Lily shares her experience of a recent visit to the Good Chance Theatre, a newly constructed creative space in the refugee camp in Calais.

In early November four of us from the Taking Part department and Directors Program at the Young Vic  – myself, Sharon Kanolik, Gbolahan Obisesan and Elayce Ismail – travelled to Calais to support the Good Chance Theatre that has been erected in the refugee camp there.

At a volunteers meeting to organise aid for the Jungle, a refugee camp in Calais, a young man stands up. A refugee with faltering but excellent English. He thanks everyone there for their help but he wants to know what’s next. ‘I am living in nowhere.’ He says. ‘I am living in no hope. We want real life.’

 *            *            *

The strangest thing about being in the Jungle is how ordinary it can be. How oddly familiar. People have naturally congregated into nations. In Sudan young men play a casual game of kick about. Five men, two balls, idly scuffing across the ground. Boys on bikes whizz between tents, grinning and spitting in Bedouin Kuwait. A main road in Afghanistan hustles with restaurants and shops while people wander, browsing the goods. A chai tea shop is lined with synthetic Afghan rugs and papered with posters for an Ed Sheeran concert long since screamed out. The tea is hot and very very sweet.

We’re not in Calais anymore. We’re not in France anymore. This is every man’s land. A liminal space where time passes slowly whilst life moves fast. When we arrived at midday a group of men were hammering large wooden supports into the ground. Five hours later the structure had a roof. Another restaurant. Eritrean food – a gap in the market.

In the bright sunshine the jungle almost – almost – looks like a tolerable place to live. A community of communities, cohabiting peacefully. Children playing, running up and down banks and chatting with friendly adults. Men washing, smoking, talking, even a few women (though they walk without making eye contact. Chatting. Smiling. Looking at the ground). But in the rain, the mud thickens into trenches, puddles gather in the pathways and seep towards habitations. A glimpse inside a small green tent near the theatre reveals no ground sheet. Small mounds of human faeces are dotted about the camp. They’re avoidable when it’s dry. When it’s wet the ground is a sodden cocktail of waste.

 

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