A National Youth Theatre (NYT) play exploring the radicalisation of young Muslims and the lure of Islamic State scheduled to open in two weeks has been cancelled, leaving its cast claiming voices have been “silenced”.
Homegrown, which aimed to explore the “stories and communities behind the headlines and the perceptions and realities of Islam and Muslim communities in Britain” was set to open at UCL academy in north London on 12 August.
But the cast of 112 young actors and creative team were “shocked” when the NYT announced that the play would not go ahead.
An NYT statement said: “After some consideration, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot be sufficiently sure of meeting all of our aims to the standards we set and which our members and audiences have come to expect.”
Homegrown’s Director Nadia Latif and playwright Omar El-Khairy said the NYT’s statement contained “factual inaccuracies”.
The pair insist the play was ahead of schedule, any concerns on content were “raised and discussed” and that the idea for the commission came from NYT’s artistic director.
In a joint statement Latif and El-Khairy said: “The creative team and our cast of 112 young people were two weeks into our rehearsals, the culmination of six month process.
“As well as the factual inaccuracies of NYT’s statement, we feel that, six days on from being told over email that show was pulled, it is bewildering that there are still unresolved questions regarding the cancellation of the show two weeks before our scheduled opening. We feel that the reasons of this production being pulled down have not been transparent, openly addressed and fully answered.”
The young cast took to social media to express their disappointment over the decision. Qasim Mahmood tweeted:
Our voices were silenced today.
— qasim mahmood (@kasimmahmood) July 31, 2015
The NYT confirmed that all purchased tickets for Homegrown would be fully refunded.