Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Dramatic Need: The Children's Monologues (2010)

November 14, 2010:

Danny Boyle directed the inaugural performance of Dramatic Need's, The Children's Monologues. The project showcased actors retelling the experiences of the children involved in Dramatic Need's Workshops. These workshops provide creative-arts education, support, and inspiration to vulnerable children in Rwanda and South Africa. The project was performed simultaneously in London (at the Old Vic Theatre) and by the children themselves in Ramulotsi, South Africa. 

In London, the cast had met and been given scripts the morning of the performance so they had a total of eight hours to put the show together. There was a short documentary created showing the behind-the-scenes preparation on the day from the staging technical difficulties, to limited rehearsal time (about 25 minutes each), to the final performances. Amber Sainsbury, the founder of Dramatic Need, described how the monologues were put together: "What we did was to collect 300 children's testimonies. We asked them to tell their happiest or their saddest day." You can also watch the documentary created on the South African performances here

The cast of actors in London included: Tom Hiddleston, Gemma Arterton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Charlie Cox, Rose Byrne, Ben Kingsley, Olivia Grant, Romala Garai, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Wunmi Mosaku, Nonso Anozie, and more. 

  • Tom Hiddleston: Showing young children in these communities that there are outlets for their feelings, that there is room and a space for their stories to be told, and that they will be applauded - and that's not about ego - they'll be applauded because it's about connection. They're pain in everybody else's pain. Tom performed "Oranges" by Joel Horwood. The story is about young girl named Prudence who is upset with her mother but excited about a trip to the zoo for her birthday, only for an elephant to eat her birthday treat (an orange). Tom dressed appropriately by adding an orange coat for the performance. 

  • Gemma Arterton: It's amazing to give them an opportunity and say no matter what happened to you have the right to say and speak and people want to listen. People want to help and understand. I think that's a very empowering thing.  Gemma performed "Cling to Her" by Zawe Ashton. 
  • Benedict Cumberbatch: Because they're children they very often don't have a voice to translate or understand or communicate their experience. So, any kind of introduction to a medium where they can relate what they've experienced I think that's great. Benedict performed "It's the Little Things" by Jamie Minoprio.  

  • Ben Kingsley: Anything that responsibly counters the appalling way we treat our children still in the 21st Century, anything that counters that I'll be there.
  • Danny Boyle: Even with the coming cutbacks we still have access to art in so many different ways and it's transformed my life (coming) from my background. So you think well if you help anybody else anywhere in the world get a bit of access to the arts then you've got to do it. 
  • Eddie Redmayne and Rose Byrne performed "Papa & Ntuli" by Bola Agbaje 

Additionally Simon Annand took these portraits to show the emotional impact the stories took on each of the actors. (I've never been able to find Tom's before/after picture set). 

You can read more about the work of Dramatic Need here


Tom Hiddleston was weather leather trousers and a leather belt from Armani Jeans. Sadly, Armani closed down this subsidy brand in 2017. Tom was also wearing a white crew neck t-shirt from Intimissimi (an updated version is available for $39) and his Ariat Roper boots ($144.95).  


Dramatic Need
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Simon Annand

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