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Axed Isis play to be relaunched at Young Vic

A publicity shot for the cancelled National Youth Theatre production Homegrown. Photo: Helen Maybanks A publicity shot for the cancelled National Youth Theatre production Homegrown. Photo: Helen Maybanks
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A play cancelled by the National Youth Theatre because of its apparent “extremist agenda” is to be given a new lease of life by its writer and director.

Homegrown, written by Omar El-Khairy and directed by Nadia Latif, had been scheduled to run as part of the NYT’s 2015 season, but was cancelled after differences emerged between the theatre company and the play’s creators. The play deals with the radicalisation of three Muslim teenagers from Bethnal Green in London.

An initial statement about the play’s cancellation claimed the production had not been up to standard, but a subsequent email, seen by The Stage, expressed concern about the play’s “one-dimensional tone and opinion” and criticised the writer’s and director’s “extremist agenda”.

A later statement clarified its position further, and added: “We do not regret commissioning Homegrown and wholeheartedly agree with those that have stated that the issues raised by the creeping radicalisation of the young should be addressed by the arts. We set out to do so but on this occasion were not successful.”

Now, the writer and director of the play are set to self-publish the play, and will launch the text at London’s Young Vic on March 6. El-Khairy, Latif and the play’s cast will be publicly reunited for the first time at this event.

Excerpts from the production will be performed, while there will also be a discussion around the issues “the scuttled National Youth Theatre production would have raised”.

The event is being organised by campaign body Index on Censorship.

In a statement, El-Khairy and Latif said: “Muslims are only ever the object in an endless national conversation around Islam, rarely invited to define their own narratives. Homegrown probed, pushed back and hoped to move representations of Muslims beyond simple caricatures and crude Orientalist fantasies. For trying to do that, we feel we were censored.”

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