On Hostile Ground is a new musical by Darren Clark (lyrics), Juliet Gilkes Romero (book), Michael Henry (music and orchestrations) and Charlotte Westenra (co-creator and director), inspired by the stories of the people affected by the government’s hostile environment policy. The musical is being released in a series of free videos, starting from Tuesday 16 February, as part of our Made in Northampton season.
On Hostile Ground was due to be featured at BEAM 2020, a festival of new musical theatre which was cancelled because of COVID-19. With opportunities for live performance curtailed by the pandemic, the writers developed this work into a series of 14 music videos and straight-to-camera monologues filmed at home by the actors during lockdown. These brand new free to view videos are being released this month as part of Royal & Derngate’s upcoming Made in Northampton 2021 season of original new musical theatre.
The first three videos will be available from 16 February. That evening will also see the first of a series of free online Q+A sessions about the hostile ground policy and creation of the musical. The first is called The Hostile Environment: Impact and Legacy with panellists Amelia Gentleman (journalist and author of The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment), Jun Pang (Policy & Campaigns Officer, Liberty), Patrick Vernon OBE (social commentator, cultural historian and Windrush justice campaigner) and chaired by Juliette Foster (journalist and news presenter).
May 2013. Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street. Prime Minister David Cameron summons department heads from within his coalition government and tasks them with finding policies to make life in the UK unbearable for illegal immigrants – a sure fire plan to deliver his election promise of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands.
On Hostile Ground is a musical about that meeting and the ongoing devastating impact it had on the lives of people who live here legally and call Britain their home. It sets the naturalistic dramatisation of the politicians’ policy discussions against a musical telling of the personal stories of those affected.
Songs include Waiting Room about Albert Thompson (Ray Fearon, Fleabag, BBC) who was denied free NHS cancer care; Memory a lament by Paulette Wilson (Dawn Hope, Follies, National Theatre) as she waits in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre to be deported to a country she left when she was 10 years old; Actual Conversation about the absurdity of the immigration system (featuring composer Michael Henry and Norman Bowman, 42nd Street, West End); London Boy about twins Darrell and Darren Roberts (both played by Tyrone Huntley, Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); who are being deported to different countries they have never visited; Generation Windrush (Arun Blair-Mangat, &Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre, Nari Blair-Mangat Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre and Rodney Vubya Evita, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); and Hide and Seek, a playground song (starring Paige Davies and Ashton James Griffiths from Royal & Derngate and Silhouette Youth Theatres) about the government’s attempt to have schools collect data on pupils’ nationality and country of birth.
Monologues include: Where have those years gone? (performed by Jacqui Dubois) looking at the continuing injustices that the Chagos Islanders face; Jean Demars (Jonathan Charles) charts how the Home Office piloted a scheme to detain and remove EU rough sleepers to their country of origin with assistance from homeless charities; and Agnesa Wokcik (Hannah Brown) who was caught in an immigration sting set up by her employer.
For more information about On Hostile Ground or to book free tickets for the online Q&A sessions, visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whats-on/on-hostile-ground/
The Made in Northampton season is sponsored locally by Michael Jones Jewellers.
PRESENTED BY ROYAL & DERNGATE, NORTHAMPTON. FUNDED BY ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND.
SUPPORTED BY ROYAL & DERNGATE, NORTHAMPTON, MUSICAL THEATRE NETWORK, MERCURY MUSICAL DEVELOPMENTS AND CHINA PLATE AS PART OF BEAM2020 AND THE MUSICAL THEATRE DARKROOM 2019.