Ncuti Gatwa (Romeo and Juliet, Home Theatre; Shakespeare in Love, Duke of York Theatre; 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, Globe Theatre), Yusra Warsama (The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Universal Pictures; Sonnet Sunday, The Globe; Our Girl, BBC1) and Nick Blakeley (Theresa Vs Boris, BBC2; Twelfth Night, Orange Tree Theatre; Goodbye Christopher Robin (Fox Searchlight) will bring the world premiere of The Claim to life.
The Claim is a comically absurd and quietly shattering journey to the heart of our tolerant and fair society. Written by Tim Cowbury (Made in China) and directed by Mark Maughan (Michael Grandage Company), The Claim explores one of the most pressingly global issues facing society today: migration and the prejudice that surrounds it. Accompanied by wraparound activities designed with organisations like UNESCO, The Claim is the only contemporary work to both satirise and humanise everyone around the Home Office interview table.
Serge stands before us. He has a performance to give. But why is he here? What is he claiming has happened to him? And what has Willy Wonka got to do with it?
The Claim gently invites you into the most British of interviews, then morphs into a dizzying onslaught of bureaucracy and prejudice. The play simultaneously abstracts and faithfully charts the journey of a single asylum claim. A bold, imaginative response to the stories of those seeking refuge in the UK, The Claim asks what happens when your life is at stake and all you have to save it
are your words.
Cowbury comments, We live in a time that’s more fractiously globalised than ever before, where the language of place and identity is unprecedentedly loaded and paradoxical. Few situations embody this moment as absurdly and tellingly as the substantive interview at the heart of every asylum claim in the UK. The interview room is a cauldron of words, in which refugees are asked to define themselves via a translator in a way that satisfies the UK’s criteria. Behind the barrage of questions asked of refugees are deeper questions we need to ask of the ourselves: who we are, what we stand for, what histories we may or may not have moved on from.
As solitary ‘guest’ Serge is subjected to the quiet violence of questions from two nameless ‘hosts’, The Claim mines the asylum system to expose more deep-seated problems and surreptitious prejudices in the UK. Cowbury’s excitingly intense and fast-paced dialogue uses word-play to create a gently absurd metaphor for an unjust system that disguises itself as an instrument of justice.
Using much first hand research into the refugee experience in the UK, the creative team have spent two years researching and developing the show by spending time at immigration courts, working closely with asylum seekers and refugees and working with representatives from migrant organisations. Key organisations the team have worked with include: Freedom From Torture,
GRAMNet, Counterpoints Arts, Right to Remain, Ice and Fire and Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre.
A comprehensive programme of wraparound activities will provide audiences and participants with safe spaces for learning, reflection and dialogue. Activities include: a specially commissioned series of testimonies written by refugees in collaboration with Freedom From Torture, one-off legal surgeries for those soon to face the Home Office interview, post-show discussions, Q&As and much
The Claim seeks to not just raise awareness, but to ask bigger questions of the UK’s relationship with asylum seekers.
Box Office Tickets are available from individual theatre box offices.
22nd – 23rd Nov The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield – 7.45pm
28th Nov – 2nd Dec The Bike Shed, Exeter – 7.30pm
10th – 13th Jan Royal Exchange Theatre, Mancheser – 7.30pm
16th – 26th Jan Shoreditch Town Hall, London – 7.45pm
29th Jan Gulbenkian, Kent – 7pm
31st Jan Platform Theatre, Glasgow – 7pm