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National Youth Theatre play cancelled. Censorship, please, we're British?

(33 Posts)
JulyKit Wed 05-Aug-15 09:46:08

So the National Youth Theatre was about to stage Homegrown, a play about radicalisation, with a cast of over 100 young people.

It was a play that looked incredibly interesting, genuinely engaging, thought provoking, 'challenging' - you know, all the stuff that contemporary theatre should be but rarely actually is.

It's been cancelled.

Such a shame.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 05-Aug-15 09:48:43

That sounds really dodgy and I can't understand what needed to be censored?

Gunpowderplot Wed 05-Aug-15 10:02:37

My guess is that it was critical of the West (eg looking at the anger of young Muslims over Palestine and Iraq) and so was seen as justifying terrorism / critical of the government. Hence censored.

JulyKit Wed 05-Aug-15 10:23:20

I think it may be that it went to far as acknowledging that point of view, Gunpowder.

Or it may that it presented the very real, reasonable, justified frustrations of young people in the UK - you know, lack of real opportunity, dodgy higher education system selling bullshitty degrees, increasing economic inequality - some of which are things that have always 'radicalised' people in one way and another and threatened the status quo.

Or it may be that there was a fear that the play would 'offend' some people who would react belligerently - and so it was simply less hassle 'safer' to silence people - i.e. to give in to violent, abusive, bullying voices rather than facilitate discussion. (I'm thinking of Birmingham Rep's cancellation of 'Bezhti' a few years back.)

Perhaps we'll never know. But I think we should - it's important.

JulyKit Wed 05-Aug-15 10:25:36

*so far as

What I'm saying is that I very much doubt that the overall 'message' of the play condoned radicalisation, violence, etc. (if there was a 'message', which I doubt, since I would imagine that the writers are a bit more sophisticated than that).

Gunpowderplot Wed 05-Aug-15 11:54:24

In the UK people go ballistic if anyone suggests that they go so far as understanding that young Muslim people are justifiably angry about what is happening in Palestine and Iraq, and see terrorism as a way of fighting back, even though that person is not condoning the terrorism bit. That is seen as unpatriotic. Unfortunately, if we are not allowed to understand the motivations of these young people, the situation with radicalisation will only get worse.

almondcakes Wed 05-Aug-15 12:33:37

It is massively insensitive to put it on in a school in East London.

Don't a lot of refugees from minority ethnic groups that are targeted by ISIS for acts of genocide live in that area?

Gunpowderplot Wed 05-Aug-15 14:07:23

In which case isn't that the perfect area to put it on? They are the families who most need to be engaged with the issues.

almondcakes Wed 05-Aug-15 15:27:32

Why, Gunpowder? That seems very heartless, and not at all what a school should be doing.

If you are from an ethnic group that has claimed asylum in the UK because of racial hatred against you, and your group are currently being targeted by ISIS to have genocidal acts committed against you, why should you have to listen to the explanations of their potential recruits? What are your ethnic group supposed to do about it?

Gunpowderplot Wed 05-Aug-15 15:34:29

Some of the children and young people in that area are at the greatest risk of radicalisation. The play is probably showing the reality of how young people are radicalised, it is probably also suggesting that that is a bad thing (it is highly unlikely that it is actually advocating children joining ISIS or suggesting that they will have a wonderful life if they do so). Watching the play may well be helpful to Muslim families and local educators and religious people in enabling discussion of the issues, including how to combat radicalisation.
The play should also be seen by non-Muslims, particularly those who are policy makers.
Burying heads in sand is not a sensible approach for anyone.

Gunpowderplot Wed 05-Aug-15 15:35:36

NB the fact that it was being held in the school didn't imply that people who lived locally would be required to go to see it - absolutely their choice as to whether to go or not.

almondcakes Wed 05-Aug-15 15:42:20

I suspect the children from minority ethnic groups who are being targeted by ISIS for genocidal rape, murder, torture and slavery and fled to other countries including the UK have already spent some time contemplating what motivates ISIS.

Much as other survivors of genocide have historically done.

I don't think their schools not hosting a play discussing the terrorists' motivations means they are burying their heads in the sand.

Gunpowderplot Wed 05-Aug-15 15:51:55

I'm not focusing on the school - focusing on having something out there discussing the issues in an accessible way that people can relate to. I really don't see any true downside to it, unless the play is actually preaching in favour of radicalisation, which is inconceivable for a play run by the National youth theatre.

almondcakes Wed 05-Aug-15 16:06:30

The story is that the school has decided not to host it.

The focus should be the wellbeing of the pupils, particularly those who are the targets of ISIS's stated genocdal aims.

It is important that society should discuss these issues, and there are plenty of other venues for doing so.

UniS Wed 05-Aug-15 16:08:17

Or was it a bit rubbish , under rehearsed and just not ready to put before a paying audience?

EverydayAnya Wed 05-Aug-15 16:15:45

The story isn't about where it's being hosted. The story is that it has been scrapped completely by the NYT. That's just not on 10 days before

EverydayAnya Wed 05-Aug-15 16:16:35

But surely Uni that would have been obvious at some point earlier than 10 days before the first show?

Farahilda Wed 05-Aug-15 16:17:38

I wonder if this bit is the important bit: "Latif and El-Khairy had developed the play through workshops with the young actors, looking at the emotive issues of jihadi brides and attitudes towards Islam in the UK. Instead of being performed on stage to an audience, it was to be an immersive, promenade production, where the audiences could walk through the school corridors, witnessing conversations and different dramatic moments between the cast."

So no way of knowing what sort of impressions the audience would take away with them as, unlike a stage play, it is possible to miss completely important voices. And presumably there would be little to stop audience members talking (and being mistaken for actors?) and saying whatever they liked.

Happy36 Wed 05-Aug-15 16:21:57

What a shame.

Could it be a publicity stunt? hopeful face

JulyKit Wed 05-Aug-15 16:51:23

Happy I wondered whether the play might transfer to the Royal Court on the basis of its now undeniable 'edginess' - but I think it's unlikely.

UnisS there are masses of rubbish, under-rehearsed plays that still go before paying audiences. NYT tends not to produce them, but anyway, whilst NYT's standards are generally very impressive, its productions - and particularly a play like this - have a wider purpose than just being slickly produced.

almondcakes - young people in east London are seen to be particularly at risk of radicalisation - and with good reason. There's every reason why these young people should be able to explore and express these issues and their experiences. (OMG I sound like a preachy community theatre practitioner, but hey ho.) It's possible, likely even, that young people from groups like those that you describe have contributed to the play.

Farahilda - interesting, but unlikely.

I think that it's simply that there are fears that there would be violent responses to the play, and it's easier to scrap it than to try and ensure a safe environment for it to take place.

almondcakes Wed 05-Aug-15 17:06:19

July, yes, people who are at risk of being talked into acts of genocide should certainly explore the issues.

We have no reason to believe, from any of the reports, that anyone who is involved in this play is from one of the non Muslim groups that ISIS has a stated genocidal aim against. Certainly the writers and producers are not from the victimised groups.

The feelings, wellbeing and expression of those who are the targets of ISIS's genocidal activities have never been mentioned by those involved in the production, those complaining about the production being cancelled or the media reporting on it.

The school is hopefully trying to ensure the wellbeing and safety of both groups of pupils - those who are the targets of ISIS's genocidal acts and those who are the targets of ISIS's recruitment campaign.

JulyKit Wed 05-Aug-15 17:16:27

almondckaes - your last post is really interesting.

I had assumed that the cast were a fairly diverse group of young people, many of whom are from east London, since that is where the play was rehearsed. It seems that you have information about the play that isn't from the links I posted above. Do you mind me asking you to direct me to that information, and also how you know so much about the writers' and producers' backgrounds?

How do you know that those involved in the production have never mentioned the feelings of those targeted by ISIS?

almondcakes Wed 05-Aug-15 17:57:43

From previous newspaper articles and interviews with the people involved, discussing the purpose of the play, why they wanted to set it in a particular area and school, what topics it covers, what elements of racism it wants to explore and who is involved in the writing and producing.

JulyKit Wed 05-Aug-15 18:54:00

almondcakes it would be really useful if you would be a bit more specific about what you think is the purpose of the play, etc. - or at least why it is that you think that its being staged would force people to listen to the (unchallenged?) support for 'ISIS' or "explanations of their potential recruits."

You probably know that there have already been speeches by radical preachers in London colleges, and that many students have been terribly intimidated by this. As far as I can see, this play would be nothing like that.

But if you really have evidence to suggest that this is not so, please share it. Or at least, if you can say it a bit more about what it is about the producers/writers intentions or limitations that make the production so insensitive that it should have been pulled, then that would be very interesting.

almondcakes Wed 05-Aug-15 19:09:31

I haven't said those things at all!

The original school selected said it was insensitive. I agree with them. It is insensitive to select a school as the venue. The purpose of a school is the wellbeing of the pupils.

I never suggested anyone would be forced to watch it.

The playwright is a highly intelligent and gifted writer. He's previously covered many highly controversial topics, including the previously mentioned human rights abuses of Palestinians, and he wasn't censored. In fact he was funded by the UK.

The difference this time is that it isn't a film in a cinema or a play on a stage. It is being performed in a school And that is insensitive to the pupils whose school it is, particularly due to the location and the topic.

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