National Theatre to stage new Grenfell Tower drama

The National Theatre has announced a new collaborative project with the west London community affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people.

The project’s centrepiece will be a new verbatim play, Grenfell: In the Words of Survivors, which is based on accounts from survivors and those who lost loved ones in the 2017 disaster.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) and Anthony Simpson-Pike (The P Word), the play will star Ash Hunter, Houda Echouafni, Jackie Clune, Joseph Alessi, Keaton Guimarães-Tolley, Michael Shaeffer, Mona Goodwin, Nahel Tzegai, Pearl Mackie and Rachid Sabitri.

Novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo (Another World: Losing our Children to Islamic State) has spent five years gaining the trust of community members and recording their experiences, and the play will be told in three parts: the events leading up to the fire, the night of the catastrophe, and a filmed final section in which survivors and bereaved individuals discuss their ongoing campaign for justice.

The National Theatre also plans to work with the north Kensington community on creative projects, learning programmes in local schools, and workshops, and local people will also be offered paid placements with the theatre.

Gillian Slovo said in a press statement: “It has been my great privilege to help put the words of a group of survivors and bereaved onto the National Theatre stage. I learned a tremendous amount about why the tragedy of Grenfell happened, but even more importantly I learned about a community which banded together when the state, both big and small, failed them. I ended up understanding that the story of Grenfell is not about a single event, but about the economic and political structures in which we live and how as a society we let this happen.”

The creative team will also include Georgia Lowe (set and costume design), Azusa Ono (lighting design), Donato Wharton (sound design), Akhila Krishnan (video design), Benjamin Kwasi Burrell (composer), Chi-San Howard (movement director), Chandra Ruegg and Alastair Coomer CDG (casting directors), Hazel Holder (voice and dialect coach), and Aaliyah McKay (staff director).

Grenfell: In the Words of Survivors will run at the National Theatre from 13 July to 26 August 2023.

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📷 Main photo: Grenfell In The Words of Survivors - National Theatre

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