Welcome to new YV Artistic Director, Kwame Kwei-Armah!

1st February. A momentous day in British theatre history – Kwame Kwei-Armah takes the keys for the Young Vic and steps into his new shoes as our Artistic Director. And we couldn’t be more excited!

First day photography by Leon Puplett 📸

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11 Questions with the cast of The Jungle | Moein Ghobsheh

Moein Ghobsheh, also known as Milan among his friends, hails from Iran, and spent time living in the Calais “Jungle” before successfully making the boarder crossing to the UK. He plays the role of Omid in The Jungle and these are his 11 Questions…

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

Crazy, fighter, musical.

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

I really like it, because this is my story.

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

I hope they will feel safe.

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

Well, I lived in the Calais “Jungle”.

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

It’s been a good time working with Good Chance, both here and in the Calais “Jungle”.

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

I listen to music and tune my guitar.

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Back row: Mohammad Amiri, Mohamed Sarrar, Elham Ehsas, Moein Ghobsheh. Front Row: John Pfumojena. (Source: @FalsettoJohn ) 

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Anything Amy* says!

*Amy works for Good Chance and met Moein in Calais

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

My Dad.

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

This is actually my first real experience of theatre, although I suppose I did see some in Calais.

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

Years ago, back home in Iran – my friends would make me really laugh out loud.

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

I’m in love!

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 before each performance. 

Top image: Mohamed Sarrar, Ben Turner, Moein Ghobsheh, Elham Ehsas. Photo by David Sandison. 

Five Plays – November 2017 | YV Directors Program

Twice a year we team up five directors from our Directors Program with five different writers and task them with creating five plays, rehearsed and staged over five days with five different casts. The result is Five Plays.

As always, this November saw some amazing collaborations between a host of exciting writing and acting talent working with our five directors, including three Jerwood Assistant Directors who have worked on recent Young Vic productions.

I Have Aids

 

by Rachel De-Lahay.
Direction Milli Bhatia, with Shane Zaza and Shvorne Marks.

 

Pops

 

by Charlotte Josephine.
Direction Alasdair Pidsley, with Sean Campion and Sophie Melville.

 

Glutathione

 

by Winsome Pinnock.
Direction Nicole Charles, with Estella Daniels and Petra Lang.

 

Signs / Wonders 

 

by Katherine Soper.
Direction Anna Poole, with Aoife Duffin and Robyn Addison.

 

Nuclear 

 

by Phoebe Eclair-Powell.
Direction Natalie Denton, with Gemma Lawrence and Jack Shalloo.

To find out more about the YV Directors Program and how we’re supporting artists of the future head to directorsprogram.youngvic.org.

All photos by Slav Kirichok.

Anna Poole, Natalie Denton and Nicole Charles are supported through the Jerwood Assistant Directors Program at the Young Vic.

Alasdair Pidsley is supported through the Young Vic Reach Out initiative.

With thanks to Jerwood Charitable Foundation which is dedicated to imaginative and responsible revenue funding of the arts, supporting artists to develop and grow at important stages in their careers. The aim of its funding is to allow artists and arts organisations to thrive; to continue to develop their skills, imagination and creativity with integrity. It works with artists across art forms, from dance and theatre to literature, music and the visual arts.

For more information on Jerwood Charitable Foundation visit: http://www.jerwoodcharitablefoundation.org

The Jungle | Rehearsal Room Photos

We went behind-the-scenes inside the rehearsal room for The Jungle at the Young Vic.

This world premiere set in the Calais Jungle opens at the Young Vic from 7 Dec 2017. Written by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin.

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Ansu Kabia, Alex Lawther and Michael Gould in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Alex Lawther, Justin Martin, Joe Robertson and Mohamed Sarrar

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The cast in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Rachel Redford in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Ben Turner and Mohamed Amiri in rehearsal for The Jungle

 

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John Pfumojena in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Jo McInnes in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Rachel Redford and Alyssa Denise D’Souza in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Ben Turner and Ammar Haj Ahmad in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Raphael Acloque in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Writer Joe Murphy in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Ben Turner in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Justin Martin and John Pfumojena in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Jo McInnes and Rachel Redford in rehearsal for The Jungle

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Jo McInnes and Nahel Tzegai in rehearsal for The Jungle

The Jungle runs at the Young Vic from 7 Dec 2017 – 6 Jan 2018

BOOK TICKETS NOW

📸 by David Sandison

Lucy Woollatt to step down as Executive Director of Young Vic

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The Board of the Young Vic announced today that Lucy Woollatt will step down as Executive Director of the Young Vic this December. Lucy will be leaving the company after 10 successful years.

Lucy joined the Young Vic as Finance Director in 2008, and was appointed Executive Director in 2010. During her time the company’s income has doubled, the organisation’s structure and profile has been transformed. Four productions have transferred to the West End, one to Broadway and many have toured around the world. The theatre has won six Olivier Awards, four Critics’ Circle Awards, four Evening Standard Theatre Awards and won The Stage Theatre of the Year in 2015. This past summer she was Executive Producer on the sold-out production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at the Apollo Theatre in the West End.

The Young Vic will appoint an interim Executive Director before recruiting for a permanent successor.

Lucy Woollatt says: “My decade at the Young Vic has been the most rewarding in my career to date. I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved night after night at the Young Vic, on tour and in the West End. The appointment of Kwame as Artistic Director is energising and uplifting and I wish him huge success. I would have loved to continue my time at the Young Vic with him, but I have decided that – after 10 years – now is the right time for me to move on to a new challenge. I would like to thank David and the Board for their unconditional support over the past decade.”

David Lan, outgoing Artistic Director says: “For more than half my time at the Young Vic, Lucy has been an ideal Executive Director. Rigorous, imaginative, compassionate, judicious, scrupulous and tremendous fun. Nothing we’ve achieved would have been possible without her willingness to take on all challenges of whatever scale. I’m full of admiration and gratitude.”

Kwame Kwei-Armah, incoming Artistic Director says: “Thanks in no small part to Lucy’s hard work I have inherited a phenomenally successful building to lead. I wish her only the best as she continues her journey.”

For further press information please contact:
Sophie Wilkinson, Press Manager
sophiewilkinson@youngvic.org| 0207 922 2979

Aphasia: Meet John Smejka

Taken with Lumia Selfie

John with his wife Paula


John Smejka was Head of Engineering at Anglian Water living in Lincolnshire when a stroke left him with severe aphasia. John has been kind enough to share some of his experience with us to raise awareness of this complex communication and language disorder. 

We spent Christmas Day in Lincoln and Boston hospitals, I had a terrible headache and couldn’t see from my left eye. It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon the stroke hit me and I no longer had use of the right leg and arm and I couldn’t speak any words, not a word. I thought that was how it would be for the rest of my life, unable to work, play the guitar or speak.

“I thought that was how it would be for the rest of my life, unable to work, play the guitar or speak.”

While I was in hospital, I didn’t want many visitors, but my fiancée (Paula) my children and my parents visited. If I could talk, it would have been easier to have visitors. Talking is the key. When Paula visited we did therapy exercises, she pushed me for a ‘walk’ in my wheelchair, or she came on the bed for a TV watching cuddle – some things don’t change! When my parents visited, conversation was impossible, I couldn’t speak at all and they didn’t do anything except visit me, so had nothing to talk about. Eventually I told them they needed to visit me less often.

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John and Paula with family on their wedding day

When I came home from hospital, Paula had moved into my house, with her son (Cameron). Paula and Cameron had to be with me all the time, they helped me with my exercises and we learnt how to communicate together. My relationship with Cameron really started at that time, it is based on mutual interests and silly humour, it has perhaps been easier for Cameron to accept my difficulties as we didn’t know each other so well before my stroke.

It has been harder for some of my children to come to terms with my stroke, especially dealing with aphasia as it hides my feelings, knowledge and stories. The two kids I was closest to before my stroke have found this most difficult, whereas the other two, seem to have adjusted much better, one of them even says he feels closer to me now than he did back then.

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John, busy digging a pond in his garden

My relationship with Paula is still good (she is my wife now!), we used to spend hours talking, now we are quiet more often but she tries to work with me so I can tell her stories, ideas and feelings. It makes Paula really sad when she misses my ‘wise counsel’ at times of difficulty.

My social life has almost disappeared. The aphasia makes it so hard to chat, especially in large groups which is how I used to socialise. I know that my friends miss me and I feel bad that I don’t go out more but it’s just not as much fun anymore – I can’t help that.

This blog was published in association with the Stroke Association. Click here to find out more and donate to support their work.


Wings is running at the Young Vic until 4 Nov. Emily, a fiercely independent aviator and wing walker, suffers a stroke that destroys her sense of reality.

Fragments of her life come together as she struggles to find her voice and her self.

Fable | A story spanning three continents

Three countries 🌍
Three schools 🏫
Three weeks 📆

Three incredible groups of young people in London, Brooklyn & Cape Town worked with our incredible creative team to make Fable, a response to Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope.

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Fable was Written by Luke Barnes, directed by Maddi Kludje and the film was directed and edited by Tristan Shepherd. The story was told in three parts and it explores young people’s perceptions of what it is to be a migrant. Fable was performed by three exceptional groups of children and teenagers in London, Brooklyn and Cape Town.

50 young people, 3 countries exploring their understanding of what it means to be a migrant today. An incredible achievement, a moving experience in such a short space of time. A lot of the young people had never even acted before and they created a whole film in just a few days! I am very proud of them!” – Maddi Kludje

The performers were from six schools, Sacred Heard School and Harris Girls Academy in London, McKinney High Schools and Juan Morel Campos in Brooklyn and Injongo Primary School and Liwa Primary School in Cape Town. You can find out more about the Cape Town schools on Isango Ensemble’s website. 

50 pages of script, over 50 kids and about 18 hours of filming. In many ways, Fable was a mission impossible for a filmmaker but Taking Part’s desire to create something special, their enthusiasm and believe allowed us to make a small miracle.” – Tristan Shepherd

A busy audience of friends and family sit in rows in front of a projector screen ahead of the London Fable sharing in the YV's Maria theatre

Fable sharing in the YV’s Maria theatre

Last week we shared the very first screening with our London casts’ friends and family at the Young Vic which featured this poignant final scene from Part three, filmed in Cape Town with local young people and Isango Ensemble.