On October 22nd at the Harold Pinter Theatre, a host of stars will gather to perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays in response to modern-day refugee video stories. The evening will be directed by Jamie Lloyd. All profits go to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
A cast including such luminaries as Bertie Carvel, Lee Evans, Martin Freeman, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Wunmi Mosaku, James Norton, Jack Whitehall, Olivia Williams & many more will join together to create a one-night-only, never-to-be-repeated gala event in support of the millions of forcibly displaced people around the world. The evening includes a special guest performance by actor Jay Abdo, himself a refugee of his native Syria.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘refugee’ speech from ‘The Book of Sir Thomas More’, written as a plea for tolerance during the London riots of May 1517 (500 years ago this year), ‘Whither Would You Go?’ pairs scenes from Shakespeare, read by stars of stage and screen with genuine refugee stories from around the world.
Jamie Lloyd says ‘Whither Would You Go? uses the words of William Shakespeare to highlight our shared humanity. When we focus on what we all have in common, we can start a conversation. With more than 65m forcibly displaced people in the world – the highest levels ever recorded – we should be talking and we should be acting.‘
Stephen Fry, who participated in the inaugural event in LA said ‘Shakespeare has always been a friend to the marginalised. Who better to champion the needs of refugees worldwide?’
Olivia Williams, LA event alumni & London cast member said ‘Contributing to Whither Would You Go? is the answer to the question, ‘what can I do to help?’
‘Whither Would You Go’ is the creation of Ella Smith & Emma West, both actors & producers who wanted to harness the power of storytelling to bring tangible help to refugees. Their inaugural production took place in Los Angeles in March and sold out. Further productions are now planned for New York & Sydney.
We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.
Often the first on the ground to help those forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution, UNHCR is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions. All profits from ‘Whither Would You Go?’ go directly to UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency.
Best known for his work with his eponymous theatre company (The Jamie Lloyd Company) for Trafalgar Transformed at the Trafalgar Studios, Jamie Lloyd has been credited with drawing new people to the theatre and introducing plays to a wholly diverse audience. He is a proponent for affordable theatre for young and diverse audiences and has been credited with ‘redefining West End theatre’ (Nick Curtis, Evening Standard – ‘Jamie Lloyd: The Playmaker‘). He has an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre for ‘The Pride’ at the Royal Court – and has been nominated a further four times. His production of ‘Passion’ during his associate directorship at the Donmar Warehouse won an Evening Standard award for Best Musical. He has also worked at the National Theatre, the Old Vic and in the West End.
A refugee of his native Syria, actor Jay Abdo’s career was cut short in 2011. During a trip to Beirut where he spoke to a reporter from the Los Angeles Times, Abdo spoke out against the Assad government and how they were “responsible for killings within their borders”. After returning to Syria, Abdo began to receive threats and was intimidated and criticized for his lack of patriotism. As a result, he moved to the United States in October 2011 to escape persecution. He joined his wife in Minnesota, where she was studying as a Humphrey fellow at the Fulbright Program and the couple later moved to Los Angeles so he could start acting again. After working several odd jobs, including delivering pizzas for Domino’s Pizza and driving an Uber, he finally began to land major roles again, including QUEEN OF THE DESERT with Nicole Kidman, A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING with Tom Hanks & most recently 1ST BORN with Val Kilmer & William Baldwin.
Bertie Carvel is currently starring as Rupert Murdoch in INK at the Duke Of York’s Theatre in the West End, and on screen as Simon in the BBC’s hit drama DOCTOR FOSTER. Previously he starred in JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL, COALITION, BABYLON and as Miss Trunchbull in MATILDA, THE MUSICAL in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the West End and on Broadway (Olivier award for Best Actor in a Musical).
Over the past decade Lee Evans has received rave reviews for his West-End theatre roles including; Samuel Beckett’s ENDGAME alongside the legendary Michael Gambon, Mel Brooks’ musical THE PRODUCERS with Nathan Lane plus Harold Pinter’s THE DUMB WAITER, with Jason Isaacs – for which he received the London Theatregoers’ Choice Award – and Clive Exton’s BARKING IN ESSEX.
Lee has won many accolades in the comedy world including ‘Special Contribution To Comedy’ Award at The British Comedy Awards 2011, the highly coveted ‘Perrier Award’ and the Time Out Award for Comedy. He has experienced huge success as an international film star with major starring roles in FREEZE FRAME THE MEDALLION, THE MARTINS, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, MOUSE HUNT, THE FIFTH ELEMENT and FUNNY BONES. He has also starred in several television series and television films; DOCTOR WHO, THE DINNER PARTY and THE HISTORY OF MR. POLLY.
Currently treading the boards of London’s West End in Jeremy Herrin-directed ‘Labour of Love’ for the Michael Grandage Company, Martin Freeman was most recently seen reprising his role of ‘Dr. John Watson’ in the much anticipated fourth series of SHERLOCK on both BBC One in the UK and PBS in the US. Martin is currently filming Ryan Coogler’s sci-fi drama BLACK PANTHER, alongside Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker and Lupita Nyong’o. Martin takes on the role of ‘Everett K. Ross’ in a story concerning the story of new ruler ‘T’Challa’ defending his land from being torn apart by enemies from outside and inside the kingdom of Wakanda. The film will be released in February 2018.
Prior to this, Martin was seen in Crackle’s new drama STARTUP, alongside Adam Brody and Edi Gathegi. The series TX’d in September 2016 and ran for 10 episodes. Martin will also be seen in the big screen adaptation of Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s GHOST STORIES. The thriller also stars George MacKay and Andy Nyman and is due to be released later this year. 2017 will also see Martin in the feature film adaptation of award nominated short CARGO. The post-apocalyptic thriller also stars Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius and Susie Porter.
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s theatre credits include: DEATH & THE KING’S HORSEMAN, ANTIGONE, EDWARD II & Guildenstern in ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD (NT 50th Anniversary show) for the National Theatre; A RESPECTABLE WEDDING, JOE TURNER’S COME & GONE, THE CHANGELING & FEAST for the Young Vic; THE LOW ROAD for the Royal Court and HAMLET for the Barbican.
His film credits include: THE DOUBLE, DOCTOR STRANGE, JUSTICE LEAGUE, PADDINGTON 2 & MARY POPPINS RETURNS. Kobna’s TV credits include the BBC’s LITTLE BRITAIN, PULLING, SILK, FATHER BROWN, CLASS, WAGSTAFFE & THE SPLIT, as well as PHONE SHOP & MIDSOMER MURDERS.
Wunmi Mosaku’s theatre credits include: Jeremy Herrin’s THE VERTICAL HOUR, Debbie Tucker Green’s TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION & Vicki Featherstone’s CYPRESS AVENUE for The Royal Court; MR. BURNS for The Almeida & TIGER COUNTRY for Hampstead Theatre.
Her film credits include: STOLEN & MY BABY for the BBC, Stephen Frears’s PHILOMENA, PAN, FANTASTIC BEASTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM, BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE & MACBETH. Wunmi’s TV credits include: SILENT WITNESS VIII, MOSES JONES, BLACKOUT & Stephen Poliakoff’s DANCING ON THE EDGE for the BBC; FATHERS & SONS, SCOTT & BAILEY & VERA II for ITV and BLACK MIRROR: PLAYTEST for Netflix.
After graduating from Cambridge University, James Norton immediately went on to study at RADA. He is a bright star in the British acting landscape which was confirmed when he was selected by Screen International to be one of their highly prestigious ‘Stars of Tomorrow’.
James can currently be seen in FLATLINERS, the reboot of the hit 1990 sci-fi horror. He stars alongside Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev as the character of would-be doctor ‘Jamie’. The story follows a group of medical students who conduct near-death experiments in order to explore the afterlife. James has recently completed work on the AMC/BBC One crime drama MCMAFIA, which is anticipated to release in 2018. Written by Hossein Amini and directed by James Watkins, the story follows Alex Godmanthe, English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history, who has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca.
James is also set to star alongside Imogen Poots in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of BELLEVILLE, penned by Amy Herzog. Directed by Michael Longhurst, the pair play American expatriates whose marriage violently unravels when they move to Paris. Faith Alabi and Malachi Kirby round out the production, which runs from December 7th to February 3rd.
Jack Whitehall is an award-winning comedian, writer and actor. As a successful and much sought-after stand up, actor, writer and presenter, Jack has firmly established himself as one of the UK’s most exciting and successful comedy talents, a status cemented by his People’s Choice Award for the King of Comedy at the 2012, 2013 & 2014 British Comedy Awards.
2017 saw Jack film a new adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel DECLINE AND FALL for BBC2 alongside David Suchet and Eva Longoria. This autumn sees Jack co-star in a new travel series with his father, Jack Whitehall: TRAVELS WITH MY FATHER which airs on Netflix and his arena tour, JACK WHITEHALL AT LARGE will also air as a Netflix Special later this year. In addition, Jack has co-written a new series for Sky 1 – BOUNTY HUNTERS is a comedy drama and sees Jack co-starring alongside Rosie Perez and Robert Lindsey – which will air this autumn.
Olivia Williams studied English at Cambridge University before training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Theatre credits include: For the National Theatre; Mosquitoes, Waste, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Richard II. For the RSC; Peer Gynt, The Wives’ Excuse, The Broken Heart, Wallenstein, Misha’s Party. For the West End: In a Forest Dark and Deep. Her TV credits include; Counterpart, The Halcyon, Manhattan, Salting the Battlefield, Playhouse Presents, Case Sensitive, City Hall, Dollhouse, Miss Austen Regrets, Krakatoa, Agatha Christie, Jason and the Argonauts, Friends, Emma, Van Der Valk, Ruth Rendell.
Olivia’s film credits include; Victoria and Abdul, Man Up, Altar, Maps to the Stars, Sabotage, Last Days on Mars, Seventh Son, Hyde Park on Hudson, Anna Karenina, Now is Good, Hanna, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, The Ghost Writer (ALFS award Supporting Actress, NSFC award Supporting Actress), An Education, Flashbacks of a Fool, There for Me, X-Men 3, Tara Road, Valiant, To Kill a King, The Heart of Me (British Independent Film Award, Best Actress), Below, Man from Elysian Fields, Lucky Break, Born Romantic, The Body, Dead Babies, Four Dogs Playing Poker, Sixth Sense, Rushmore, The Postman, Gaston’s War, Wesley, A Brand from the Burning.
Whither Would You Go?
Sunday 22 October 7:30pm
Harold Pinter Theatre Panton St, London SW1Y 4DN
MORE CAST ANNOUNCED SOON…