CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR GOD BLESS THE CHILD

Published on Fri 10 Oct 2014
AMANDA ABBINGTON, NIKKI AMUKA-BIRD, JULIE HESMONDHALGH AND ONY UHIARA JOIN A CAST OF EIGHT YEAR OLDS

“When he was small and his parents told him if he was good he would get a sweet, the boy knew it was not true. Getting the sweet had nothing to do with being good.”

Casting is announced today for God Bless the Child, a new play at the Royal Court Theatre written by Molly Davies and directed by Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, premiering on 12 November at Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.

The cast includes Amanda Abbington who returns to the stage after roles as Miss Mardle in Mr Selfridge and Mary Morstan in the BBC’s Sherlock; Ian Charleson Award-nominee Nikki Amuka-Bird whose credits include Birdland (Royal Court) Twelfth Night (Bristol Old Vic) and the BBC’s Small Island; Julie Hesmondhalgh, best known as Hayley Patterson in Coronation Street and Ony Uhiara, known for her work at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Young Vic and Bush Theatre. Set in the classroom of 4N, the cast will be joined by two groups of eight year old actors who will perform on alternate evenings, with a girl and a boy alternating the lead role each night.

After years working in the schools system as a Teaching Assistant writer Molly Davies imagines a mutiny of eight year olds in this new play about government schemes and their place in the education system. Through the new ‘Badger Do Best’ behavioural initiative the production examines what educational tools we use to teach our children and who takes ultimate responsibility in a bureaucratic education system.

The production is directed by Vicky Featherstone, designed by Chloe Lamford, with lighting by Philip Gladwell, music and sound design by Mark Melville and movement by Imogen Knight.

Molly Davies’ first play A Miracle was produced in 2009 at the Royal Court Theatre as part of the 2009 Young Writers Festival. Her other credits include Shooting Truth for National Theatre Connections and Orpheus & Eurydice for National Youth Theatre and Old Vic Tunnels.

Artistic Director of the Royal Court Vicky Featherstone directs. Since she started at the Royal Court, her credits have included Dennis Kelly’s The Ritual Slaughter of George Mastromas and Abi Morgan’s The Mistress Contract. She opened her first season at the Royal Court with Open Court – a festival of plays, ideas and events, chosen by over 140 writers. At National Theatre of Scotland, her credits included Enquirer (co-directed with John Tiffany), Appointment With The Wicker Man and 27 and prior to Scotland, Vicky was Artistic Director of Paines Plough. She will also direct Zinnie Harris’ play How to Hold Your Breath this season.

God Bless the Child is part of the Royal Court’s Jerwood New Playwrights programme, which aims to discover and support the next generation of world class playwrights, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

The Big Idea: God Bless the Child
Tickets to go on sale later in 2014

The Big Idea is a new strand of work at the Royal Court launched during last year’s Open Court festival, offering audiences radical thinking and provocative discussion inspired by the work on stage.

‘Imagination and institutions: how should we inspire our children?’ Teachers, students, writers and other experts come together to discuss.
Saturday 22 November, 1pm

Post Show Discussion: In conversation with Molly Davies
Wednesday 3 December

Carpet Time: stories by eight-year-olds.
A new performance for adults, in which carpet time is turned on its head. Instead of the children listening to stories told by adults, we join children on the carpet, around the building to listen to the stories they want to tell us. Saturday 6 December, 1pm and 1.30pm.

For further information please contact Maisie Lawrence or Laura Myers at The Corner Shop PR on 020 7831 7657 or [email protected] / [email protected]

Cast Biographies:

Amanda Abbington has appeared in numerous television and stage productions. In May 2013, Abbington reprised her role as DC Louise Munroe in the second series of the detective drama series Case Histories. She is also well known for her roles as Miss Mardle in ITV’s Mr Selfridge and Mary Morstan in BBC One’s Sherlock.

Nikki Amuka-Bird has previously appeared at the Royal Court in Birdland and Love and Information. Amuka-Bird’s other theatre credits include The Trial of Ubu (Hampstead Theatre), Welcome to Thebes (National Theatre), World Music (Donmar Warehouse) and Twelfth Night (Bristol Old Vic) for which she was nominated for an Ian Charleston Award. She has worked extensively in television and is perhaps best known for her appearance in BBC One’s Small Island, as well as Luther, House of Fools, Sinbad, Survivors, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, Torchwood, Robin Hood, The Line of Beauty and Death in Paradise.

Julie Hesmondhalgh has worked extensively on screen and stage. Best known as Hayley Patterson in ITV’s Coronation Street, her theatre credits include Blindsided, Black Roses (both Royal Exchange Theatre) and frequent work with Arts Threshold including Bar and Ger, The Lizzie Play, The Tempest, The Immorality Act and The Taming of the Shrew. As well as the much loved Hayley, Julie’s screen credits include Daziel & Pascoe, The Bill, The Dwelling Place and Pat and Margaret.

Ony Uhiara most recently appeared on stage in Eye of A Needle (Southwark Playhouse) and Idomeneus (Gate Theatre). Her other extensive theatre work includes Cannibals (Manchester Royal Exhange), Sixty Six Books (Bush Theatre), How To Be An Other Woman (Bush Theatre), In the Red and Brown Water and Eurydice (both Young Vic), she has also worked regularly with the RSC. Uhiara’s television credits include Law & Order, Stolen, White Van Man, Criminal Justice and Barclay.

Child actors include: Nancy Allsop, Lahaina Asumang, Darwin Brokenbro, Lara Decaro, Cedric Essumang, David Evans, Colby Mulgrew, Bobby Smalldridge, Grace Taylor, Lizzie Wells, Joseph West, Tyla Wilson, Beatrice Playfoot-Orme, Zahra O’Reilly, Maleah Rutty and Rocco Wright.

The Big Idea
The Big Idea is a new strand of work launched during Open Court, offering audiences radical thinking and provocative discussion inspired by the work on stage. The Big Idea seeks to foster debate and collaboration, bringing together leading thinkers and artists from all walks of life to engage with the big ideasof our times, through a series of debates and events.
AlixPartners support The Big Idea at the Royal Court Theatre

Notes to Editors:
COUTTS is the Royal Court Theatre Innovation Partner

Coutts is the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Coutts has a long history of supporting the arts going back 200 years, having looked after the financial affairs of many famous clients connected with the arts such as Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens and Chopin. In 1816, Thomas Coutts married Harriot Mellon, a popular actress of her day, and together they became partners of a number of London Theatres, including the Drury Lane and the Royal Opera House. Coutts has even featured in a number of artistic works including The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In the new millennium, this tradition has continued not only through Coutts managing the finances of many of today’s top writers, actors and musicians, but also through our arts sponsorship programme. We are delighted to support The Royal Court and its diverse range of ground-breaking performances.

JERWOOD CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The Jerwood Charitable Foundation supports the Jerwood New Playwrights programme and is dedicated to imaginative and responsible revenue funding of the arts, supporting emerging artists to develop and grow at important stages in their careers. The aim of its funding is to allow artists and arts organisations to thrive; to continue to develop their skills, imagination and creativity with integrity. It works with artists across art forms, from dance and theatre to literature, music and the visual arts. For more information visit www.jerwoodcharitablefoundation.org

ALIXPARTNERS is delighted to support the Royal Court in this exciting new programme.

The Royal Court offer radical thinkers and provocative voices a home, wherever they come from. The Big Idea series brings this to life by engaging the public in debate and discussion about civic, political, domestic and international issues. As a leading global business advisory firm of results-oriented professionals who specialise in creating value and enhancing performance, we share in this conviction to challenge pre-conceivedstandards and generate new ideas.