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Of Our Own Making - Tara Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WRITTEN and directed by Jonathan Brown, Of Our Own Making runs at Tara Theatre from January 30 to February 16, 2019.

Taking an unflinching look at the people behind the labels, this hard-hitting new play asks how responsible society is for creating the ‘monsters’ it fears.

Three characters flee the shores of Libya; each on their own personal journey, whilst a tabloid reporter awaits them on the beaches of Greece, seeking stories to fit a cynical narrative about the Syrian refugee crisis.

Of Our Own Making examines our judgement of perpetrators in light of complex circumstances.

Saif is a man escaping atrocities that he was forced to commit. Amira is travelling across the Mediterranean with her friend Hussan to find a better life for her baby. Parsifal is a lost and lonely boy, neglected in real life and vulnerable online to those who would groom and exploit him.

As Parsifal becomes more radicalised, Saif starts to reclaim himself, and Micky, an undercover tabloid reporter, finds the scoop she’s looking for to be more affecting than she’d anticipated.

Against the background of the Chilcot enquiry, the questions around the Iraq war, and the demonisation of immigrants, the meetings of these characters are shaped by the circumstances that have altered them.

Of Our Own Making will be accompanied by free workshops for teenage boys in Wandsworth, inviting young men to devise scenes using physical theatre to explore the circumstances that can make a person vulnerable to online grooming.

The workshops will be run by Mark Nightingale, a lead mentor for national organisation A Band of Brothers, movement director Helen Parlor, who was assistant choreographer of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics, and playwright Jonathan Brown, whose past experience in mentoring boys that have faced forms of exclusion includes working with inmates at HMP Bristol, mentoring excluded boys and as a facilitator for Community Building in Britain.

The show has been developed with an international team, many of whom have personal connections with the issues in the show. Musician Dirk Campbell (Harry Potter, The Mummy) lost his daughter Anna in March 2018, ten months after she left home to fight Isis.

Campbell will be providing an atmospheric soundtrack, and the cast will include Natali Servat, who played the title role in Amnesty International Freedom Of Expression Award-nominated Nazanin’s Story. Servat’s parents were Iranian refugees who fled to Sweden.

Writer and director Jonathan Brown said: “I wrote the play having felt personally affected by the tabloids use of the refugee crisis to stir up fear of immigrants, being deeply saddened by the Bataclan and Nice terrorist attacks, and noticing the tendency toward demonisation of the radicalised or conscripted. I would like the play to spark conversations on these matters, and to keep them going.

“As the writing progressed, the play called out to also be about masculinity, about male youth vulnerability, suicide, grooming, isolation and a yearning for positive male role models – themes prominent in my life and through my work with excluded boys and prison inmates.”

The cast includes Jonathan Brown, Erin Elkin, Vincent Kerschbaum and Natali Servat, with further casting to be confirmed. Photography is by Loulou D’Aki.

Of Our Own Making is presented by Something Underground, which was founded by Jonathan Brown in 2006. A regular at the Brighton Fringe, the company has won multiple awards there including Best Male Performer, Best Female Performer and Best New Play. Something Underground presents new writing that is visceral and uncompromising, character and plot driven, whilst minimalist in style.

Re-opened in September 2016 by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Tara Theatre has garnered a range of awards, including The Stage Sustainability Award, London Construction Best Project Design Award and the London Architecture Culture & Community Award. It has also been shortlisted for the World Architecture and the Peter Brook Empty Space Awards. Tara Arts was founded in 1977 by Artistic Director Jatinder Verma, who was awarded an MBE for services to diversity in the arts in 2017.

Of Our Own Making is suitable for ages 13+.

Tickets: £17.50, £13.50 concessions, U25s £10. To book, call the box office on 020 8333 4457 or visit www.tara-arts.com/.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

Read more about Tara Theatre’s January to April 2019 Season.