Greenwich Theatre Presents: HANNAH AND HANNA

Tuesday 29th September - Saturday 3rd October 2015

Greenwich Theatre is taking a unique stance in the company’s programming for this year’s Black History Month, by celebrating the achievements of, and opportunities for, black women in the arts.

For Hannah and Hanna, Greenwich Theatre took a play written in 2001 and for the first time they’ve changed the ethnicity of one of the key characters from white to black, exploring what it means to be British in the twenty first century.

From 29 September-3 October the theatre presents HANNAH AND HANNA, its co-production with new company CultureClash of John Retallack’s award-winning play. Telling the story of a teenage girl from Kosovo struggling to befriend a teenager from Margate at the height of the Kosovan asylum-seeker crisis in 1999, the play is directed by Greenwich Theatre’s Artistic and Executive Director, James Haddrell.

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“The play could not be more relevant, given the current situation in Syria,” explained James. “It explores the human stories that sit behind the statistics dominating the headlines, and it is sad to see how little has changed, with as many people wanting to close our borders to those in need as there are people wanting to help. However, building on that contemporary relevance, we have taken a very particular approach to the play. The story follows Hanna as she arrives in England and tries to make friends with Hannah, a local girl from Margate, but through her boyfriend and her friends Hannah is closely linked to the National Front and is opposed to the arrival of the asylum-seekers. The play has been produced many times before but for our production, and we believe for the first time ever, Hannah is played by a black actress – Cassandra Hercules.”

 

“We wanted to draw attention to the fact that the country is changing,” said Cassandra, a co-founder of CultureClash with fellow actor Serin Ibrahim. “Black communities consider themselves just as British as white communities. There are people from all ethnicities who share feelings of xenophobia and hatred towards foreigners and believe that this country belongs to them, whether their families have lived here for two generations or twenty. Playing this role as a black actress, for the first time, was very special to me. Without changing a single word it brought a whole new meaning to the play.”

 

Serin said, “My grandparents came to the UK from Cyprus – we’re Turkish Cypriot – but my parents were born here and we are certainly British. When Cassandra and I made the decision to produce this play we were excited about doing something new with it, and finding a way to celebrate the diversity in this country and the way that being British has changed over the years.”

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