The Bone Sparrow flies into York Theatre Royal

From 25th February – 5th March 2022, Pilot Theatre will hold the world premiere of The Bone Sparrow at York Theatre Royal before taking flight on a national tour throughout 2022.

Following their critically acclaimed productions of Noughts & Crosses, Pilot Theatre – in co-production with York Theatre – are holding the world premiere of award-winning Australian playwright S. Shakthidharan’s adaptation of The Bone Sparrow.

I haven’t read The Bone Sparrow yet, but it certainly sounds like an interesting story and is a multi-award winning book for young adults. And by multi-award-winning, I really do mean it… the book holds an impressive list of accolades such as the ABIA Book of the Year for Older Children and the Readings Young Adult Book Prize. Written by Zana Fraillon, The Bone Sparrow tells the story of a Rohingya refugee boy who has spent his entire life living in a detention centre in Australia.
Born in an Australian permanent detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland, life behind the fences is all Subhi has ever known. But as he grows, his imagination gets bigger too, until it is bursting at the limits of his world. 

One night, Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl appears from the other side of the wires, and brings a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it, she relies on Subhi to unravel her own family’s mysterious and moving history. As their tales unfold, the two realise the might both find a way to freedom. But not until each of them has been braver than ever before. 
S. Shakthidharan is an Australian writer, producer, composer and director for screen and stage of Sri Lankan heritage and Tamil ancestry. S. Shakthidharan said: “So often we are beaten down by the world. We reshape ourselves to fit into it. Subhi’s story is different. In The Bone Sparrow this imaginative young boy discovers within himself a strength that will change the world around him. It is a classic coming of age story: and yet, so much more. I have had a great deal of fun collaborating with Pilot to develop a grand theatricality for this work and deepen its relationship with the Rohingya community. I hope audiences are as delighted and moved by this story as we were in the process of adapting it.”

The show will be directed by Pilot Theatre’s Artistic Director Esther Richardson, who also directed Noughts & Crosses and Brighton Rock). She said: “The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon captured my imagination instantly and moved me in a way few books have before or since. It has been nothing but a privilege to shape this international theatre project with Pilot, which seeks, not only to set this sublimely imaginative, moving, and urgent tale free, but to raise
awareness, most especially in young people, about the current situation with child detention, and the plight of the Rohingya. Pilot always takes on projects that aim to open the power, possibility, and complexity of the world for audiences. We seek to activate critical thinking as well as compassion and I can’t imagine a more timely or theatrically prescient project than this for our audiences as we return to mid-scale touring.”
The Bone Sparrow will be the third co-production between Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Mercury Theatre Colchester, and York Theatre Royal who formed a new partnership to develop theatre for younger audiences. From 2019-2022 the consortium will commission and co-produce an original mid-scale production each year, which will play in all the consortium venues as well as touring nationally. Even more amazingly, the consortium will facilitate schools’ workshops and outreach projects, along with free digital learning resources.
The production has also been developed in association with ATYP (Australian Theatre for Young People) and with the support of Bradford’s SBC Theatre. The cast will be announced very soon, and with such a powerhouse creative and productive team I’m sure there will be an amazing line-up of actors and actresses in the show!
Visit the York Theatre Royal website for more information on how to book your tickets.

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