Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Show Will Go on, Says Director of Cancelled Play about Isis Girls

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Show Will Go on, Says Director of Cancelled Play about Isis Girls

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Watts

THE director of a play about the radicalisation of teenagers which was cancelled days before opening night today insisted she would not be "silenced".

Leading figures in London's theatre world have demanded that the National Youth Theatre explains why it scrapped Homegrown, inspired by the three London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State.

In an open letter, signatories including Simon Callow, Anish Kapoor and Sir David Hare warned that the decision marked a "troubling moment" for freedom of expression.

Nadia Latif, the director, today vowed that "freedom of speech in the arts would win" and insisted that the controversial play would still be staged. She said: "We were never going to lie down and not finish what we started. We were not going to be silenced. The very flattering and heart-warming support we have received has reinforced that. We would defend the right of all artists to make art." In June, the production was forced to move from the first school it was scheduled to play in less than a mile from Bethnal Green Academy, which the missing schoolgirls attended after Tower Hamlets council said it would be "insensitive".

In a production meeting on July 23, a producer told Latif that police had asked to see a final draft of the script. She initially refused but relented when asked again a week later. The play was pulled the following week.

Scotland Yard has firmly denied suggestions that police applied pressure on the NYT and the NYT said it cancelled the show because it did not meet the theatre's standards.

Latif said: "I cannot accept [the play was cancelled] for the reasons that have been given. NYT had seen the script and we had been very open about what we were doing. The work is exciting, provocative and intelligent and is part of an important debate and conversation on radicalisation and Islam in our society. …

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