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The gobsmacking moment that led to a drama about Sri Lanka

As artistic director of a theatre group in London, Christine Bacon is offered many scripts and articles, few of which hit the mark. This one was different.
from Daniel Nelson on Oct 17, 2016.

Mother love and oil greed

Mix mother-daughter tensions with international control over petroleum resources and you get 'Oil', at the Almeida Theatre.
from Daniel Nelson on Oct 22, 2016.

Recommended event


Covered by OneWorld


From the editor




The Island Nation, which opens this week at the  Arcola Theatre, is about the closing stage of the Sri Lankan civil war: "The UN, the media and all other independent witnesses are barred from entering the war zone. What happens thereafter is one of the biggest unreported war stories of this century."

After the 3 November performance, Suthaharan Nadarajah will chair a discussion between Frances Harrison, author of Still Counting the Dead and Ann Hannah from the organisation Freedom from Torture about the legacy of the events depicted in the play.  


* Also coming up on stage are (we)SINKa dance performance exploring climate change and human psychology at the Blue Elephant. Inspired by psychological mechanisms that make humans disengage from climate change challenges, this new work explores feelings of distance, doom, dissonance, denial and identity in response to our changing climate; and Angel at the Arcola, a play inspired by the story of a modern legend. It's about a female sniper - the Angel of Kobani – who held ISIS in check for over a year in Syria. A young female law student, she joined the resistance when the town of Kobani was besieged - and quickly discovered that she had a talent for killing. In the midst of the fiercest fighting since Stalingrad, it is alleged that she shot and killed 100 extremists - making her particularly feared by ISIS, as they believe that if they are killed by a woman they cannot enter Paradise. Forthcoming Arcola productions also include Drones, Baby, Drones:  "Three writers. Two plays. One vital tale of power, sex and infighting at the top of the Washington establishment, and its far-reaching repercussions. As Barack Obama prepares to leave office, this world premiere double bill probes behind the scenes of America’s controversial drone wars, and asks what they will mean for our future."


Theresa Ikoko is one of five winners of this year’s Channel 4 Playwrights’ Scheme, which awards five £1,000 bursaries to new theatre writers, reports The Stage. Each recipient also receives a year-long placement at a venue or with a theatre company. Ikoko won for her play Girls, currently playing at the Soho Theatre. Other winners include Zia Ahmed, for Come to Where I’m From and Carmen Nasr, whose play Dubailand has earned her a placement with London's Finborough Theatre. Over the course of their year-long placements, the writers will aim to write a full-length play.

* On screen, as well as the Filmafrica Festival to look forward to, there's a three--day programme of international Nigerian Cinema  at the BFI Southbank in November, as part of BFI Black Star. It will showcase a new crop of Nigerian filmmakers who are revolutionising the industry beyond Nollywood with arthouse, documentary, animation and experimental films.


* Image, below right: Sarafina! - "Soweto, South Africa, 1976. A new world is opening up for a group of young black students, whose extraordinary teacher, Mary (Whoopi Goldberg), defies the authorities and dares to teach them truths that are not found in approved textbooks. For one pupil in particular, Sarafina (Leleti Khumalo), this forbidden curriculum will have a far reaching impact on her life. To mark 40 years since the Soweto Uprisings and 25 years since the celebrated musical Sarafina!, we remember the spirit and resilience of the youth of Soweto, who battled against the brutal apartheid Government and in doing so changed the course of their country’s history." Double bill, with Soweto, Times of Wrath at FilmAfrica, 31 October



Daniel Nelson


Tw: @EventsNelson













Friday 21-Sunday 30 October

* Somali Week Festival, Ahmed I Samatar, Ali Jimale Ahmed, Yurub Mohamed Abdi “Yurub Geenyo”, Ahmed Wali Ibrahim Mohamoud “Furinle”, Said Salah Ahmed, Ali Beshir Abdi “Ali Dhaanto”, Nuruddin Farah, Ahmed Naji Saad, Mohamoud Hagi Ibrahim Mohamoud, Donia Jamal Adam, Mona Kosar Abdi, FathiaAbsie, journalist, Shukri Haji Ismail, Iqbal Jhazbay, Abdikarim Farah Qarey “Abdikarim Jiir”, Mahamed Mahamud Yasiin “Dheeg”, Abdi Roble, Aabi Mirre Da’ar, Khadra Muse Yusuf; Luqmaan Ali Waraabe; Bodhari Warsame, Abdalla Mansur, Abdaha Shafey, Mohamed Hirsi Guuleed " Abdibashir". Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, E2 and other London venues. Info: Programme/ Tickets

Sunday 23 October

* Battle of Ideas, annual festival with over 100 sessions, 400 speakers, sessions include Immigration: What is the Future of Free Movement?, day and weekend rates, from £10 to £100, Barbican Centre, Silk Street. Info: 7269 9220/

Monday 24 October

* The Humanitarian Disaster in Yemen and the Struggle for Supremacy in the Middle East, Helen Lackner, 6.45pm, £2/£3, Friends of Le Monde, The Gallery, Alan Baxter & Associates LLP, 75 Cowcross Street, EC1. Info:

* Population change: one of the great global challenges, Sarah Harper, 6.30pm, Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, SW7. Info: 7591 3000

* Collaboration through storytelling: lessons from Nepal, Steve Connors, Laurie Lee, Aleema Shivji, Sheetal Tuladhar, 5.30pm, Overseas Development Institute, 203 Blackfriars Road, SE1. Info:


Tuesday 25 October

* Migrant Landscapes, Robin Reineke, Patrick Kingsley, 6.30pm, £8/£5, Staff Restaurant, The British Library 96 Euston Road, NW. Info:

*  ‘Policing the Planet’: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter, Jordan T. Camp, Christina Heatherton, Adam Elliott-Cooper, Laleh Khalili, 7pm, £10, London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, WC1. Info: 7269 9030/

* The Emergence of the Gulf States, John Peterson, 5.45pm, School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, WC1. Info: 7898 4823

* The Origins and Dynamics of Genocide: Political Violence in Guatemala, Roddy Brett, 6pm, Kings College, The Strand, WC2. Info: Eventbrite


Thursday 27 October 

* Growth, Infrastructure and Sustainability: 10 years on from the Stern Review, Lord Stern, 6.30pm, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, WC2. Info: 7955 6043

* In conversation with Nuruddin Farah and readings of newly translated Somali works, 6-10pm, £5.90, Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, E2. Info: Tickets

* How Social Media Shape Collective Action, Helen Margetts and Peter Jones, 1pm, RSA, 8 John Adam Street, WC2. info: 7451 6868/ 


Friday 28 October

* #BlackLivesMatter, Fatima Al Qadiri, Christina Heatherton, Jordan T. Camp, 1pm, £5, ICA, The Mall, SW1. Info:

* Vigil for Saudia Arabia's imprisoned writers, 9-10am, Saudi embassy, 30-32 Charles Street, Mayfair: meet at Curzon Street entrance. Info:


Saturday 29 October

* Amnesty Thematic Networks Conference, topic: refugee crisis, 10am-5pm, Human Rights Action Centre, 23 New Inn Yard, EC2. Info:


Monday 31 October

* Kuwait Transformed: A History of Oil and Urban Life, Farah Al-Nakib, 5.45pm, School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, WC1. Info: 7898 4330/4490

* “No Time to Lose: Is the world prepared for pandemics?”, Peter Piot, 5pm, Birkbeck College, 25-27 Torrington Square, WC1. Info: Eventbrite 

* 2016 Royal Society Pfizer Award Seminar, Amina Abubakar, 3-5pm, The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, SW1. Info:

* Arbitrary revocation of citizenship: Bahrain & The Gulf, the Dominican Republic, Myanmar and beyond, 9.45am-5.30pm, free, 17-25 New Inn Yard, EC2. Info:











* Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the best of 50,00 entries from 95 countries, Natural History Museum, South Kensington, until 10 September 2017. Info: 7942 5000/

+ Wildlife photography judges brak up the right tree


* Malick Sidibe: The Eye of Modern Mali, photographs by the late West African artist, free, Somerset House, Strand, WC2, until 15 January. Info: 7845 4600


* Mahwish Chishty, the Pakistan-born US-based artist’s work combines silhouettes of military drones with decorative Pakistani folk art patterns to highlight the way in which foreign drones over Pakistan have become a feature of the physical, psychological and cultural environment of the country, free, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, SE1, until 19 March. Info:  7416 5000

20 MarchCovert War and Cultures Colliding, discussion with Chishty, Lisa Barnard and Clare Carolin on the challenges of creating artworks which represent and comment on covert war, 2pm, free. Info: Booking


Vasco Araujo: Decolonial Desire, photography, installations and video exploring how the trauma of colonialism continues to haunt the modern world, free, Rivington Gallery, Rivington Street, EC2, until 3 December. Info: 7749 1240

+ 3 December, artist and curator-led exhibition tour, 3-4.30pm, free

William Kentridge: Thick Time, the South African artist's latest intelligent look at history and time, £11.95/ £9.50, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel Street, E1, until 15 January. Info: 7522 7888


Black Chronicles: Photographic Portraits 1862-1948, photos of life in Britain, free, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, WC2, until 11 December. Info: 7306 0055


* Imperfect Chronology: Mapping the Contemporary 11, over 13 artists focus on the theme of mapping geographies, examining the notion of statehood and exploring how artists engage with the rapidly expanding cities of the Arab region, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1, until 8 January. Info: 7522 7888/


Mitologia de la Tierra, six Colombian artists picked for their understanding of contemporary Colombian identity, The Koppel Project, 93 Baker Street, W1, until 5 November. Info:


Salt Pans/ Essential Elements, Edward Burtynsky's photographs of the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, India, of China, and of "manufactured landscapes" such as quarries, free, Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, E2, until 29 October. Info:

+ Photos of wonder and bewilderment

+ Edward Burtynsky on his ravaged Earth shots: 'We've reached peak everything'


From Myth to Earth, multi-sensory exhibition of works created by Bailey Barker and Gabriella Sonabend as a result of a research period in Colombia, The Koppel Project Hive, 26 Holborn Viaduct, EC1, until 29 October. Info:  Myth to Earth


What Language Do You Speak, Stranger?French-Algerian artist Katia Kameli questions ideas of historical authenticity and national identity, Mosaic Rooms, Tower House, 226 cromwell Road, SW5, until 3 December. Info: 7370 9990


Courting to contract: Love and marriage in Iran, small display celebrating the traditions associated with Persian marriage ceremonies in Iran and neighbouring regions, British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1, until 20 November. Info: 7323 8299/ information@britishmuseum.


* Rapid Response Collecting, tiny but fascinating exhbit that ranges from cheap Indonesian-made eyelashes to shoes that show  Western designers' belated realisation that the pink colour 'nude' did not apply to all the world's population,  free, Victoria & Albert Meseum, Cromwell Road, until 15 December

+ Printed guns, nude shoes and Indonesian eyelashes


London, Sugar & Slavery , permanent gallery at the Museum of Docklands, No 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, E14. Info:


atmosphere: exploring climate science, free, Science Museum, South Kensington. Info: Museum


Atlantic Worlds, transatlantic slave trade gallery, National Maritime Museum, Park Row, SE1. Info: 8858 4422/ 8312 656



from Thursday 27 October

* South Africa: the art of a nation, from rock art by the country’s earliest peoples to contemporary works, £12, under-16s free, British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1, until 26 February. Info:

* A Bitter Road: Britain and the Refugee Crisis of the 1930s and 1940s, responses to Jewish and other refugees in Britain, The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide, 29 Russell Square, WC1, until 17 February 2017. Info: 7636 7247



Picture: "Be transported to the heart of Sri Lanka to discover the shocking truths, and the extraordinary human sides, of the biggest unreported war story of our time. Based on real events, The Island Nation is a visceral, revelatory new play by Christine Bacon, artistic director of the pioneering human rights theatre company ice&fire." Opens 26 October at the Arcola Theatre.

Island Nation








*  London East Asia Film Festival, 40 films from South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, until Sunday 30 October. Info:


* In Pursuit of Silence, meditative documentary that explores silence, sound and the impact of noise, 

+ A penetrating look at the sound of silence


Sonita, documentary about an Afghan teenager in Tehran who dreams of being a rapper, which means fighting her family's plan to marry her off, Picturehouse Central, until Thursday; Curzon Bloomsbury, until 27 October, Barbican Centre, Monday-Tuesday

Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio travels the world talkling to scientists, politicians, activists and local residents to gain a deeper understanding of climate change, Curzon Bloomsbury, until 27 October

* Queen of Katwe, inspirational but sugary feature about how chess success enabled a poor Ugandan girl to get her family out of their Kampala shantytown, Brixton Ritzy, Picturehouse Central, Greenwich Picturehouse, hackney Picturehouse, Peckhamplex, Stratford Picturehouse


Tuesday 25 October
* 11 short films by Middle Eastern directors , 7- 9pm,  £8/£6, Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Road, W14. Info; 7602 3316/ 7471 9160


Wednesday 26 October

* Homo Sapiens, 6.30pm, a film about the finiteness and fragility of human existence and the end of the industrial age, Prince Charles Cinema

* Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, Werner Herzog documentary on the effect of the Internet, its history and future, and the wonders of robotics, Curzons

* Ethnic Notions, documentary that takes a tour tof racist US stereotypes, 6.15pm, NFT. Info:


from Wednesday 26 October

* FilmAfrica, until 6 November. Documentaries include 30 Oct, The Revolution Won't Be Televised, Senegal's political Hip Hop activists; To The Forest of Clouds; 31 Oct, Dream States, love story, road movie and Americana; 1 Nov, Shashamane, the oldest Rastafari settleement in the world; 2 Nov, Mali Blues; 3 Nov, The Pearl of Africa, a Ugandan transgender woman; 3 Nov, Hiseein Habre, a Chadian tragedy; 4 Nov, Those Who Jump, a Malian refugee films his flight; 5 Nov, Roaring Abyss, Ethiopian music; + an all-day industry forum. Info:

* Black Star season, BFI. Info:


Friday 28 October

* Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, Werner Herzog documentary on the effect of the Internet, its history and future, and the wonders of robotics, Curzons, Picturehouse Central


Wednesday 28-Friday 30 September, Sunday 2 October

* Fire At Sea, portrait of the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, and the humanitarian crisis occurring in the surround sea, Whirled Cinema, 259-260 Hardess Street, Loughborough Junction, SE24. Info: 7737 6153


from Wednesday 28 October

* London Iranian Film Festival, until 2 November. Films include Taste of Cherry, Abbas Kiarostami film in which a middle-aged man wants to end his life and drives around the hilly outskirts of Tehran in search of someone to bury or rescue him; 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds, documentary portrait (without interviews) of the late director Abbas Kiarostami; Yahya Sokoot Nakard, seven-year-old Yahya, looked after by his aunt, sets out to seek the meaning of life - an adventure that will cost him dear











Oil, the lives of one woman and her family in a hurtling crash of empire, history and family, £10-£38, Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, N1, until 26 November. Info: 7359 3535

Mother love and oil greed


* A Man Of Good Hope, the story of a young refugee's journey across Africa to life in a South African township, brought to life with music from South Africa's Isango Ensemble, Young Vic, 66 The Cut, SE1, until 12 November. Info: 7922 2922

+ Hope not happiness in a Somali journey of a lifetime


* The Mountaintop,  revival of the Olivier Award-winner about Martin Luther King’s last night on earth, Young Vic, 66 The Cut, SE1, until 12 November. Info: 7922 2922


* One Night In MiamiKwame Kwei-Armah directs Kemp Powers’ play about four friends: Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke & Jim Brown, Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, WC2, until 3 December. Info: 0844 871 7624


* The Hotel Cerise, Anita Mountjoy risks losing her family's beloved hotel and cherry orchard, a famous retreat for middle-class black people during the time of segregation, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Raffles Square, E15, until 12 November. Info:


Plays Of Love & War, two plays set in the Middle East, "plunging ther audience into the heart of conflict and occupation", Theatre Bay, 4-8 Acklam Village, W10, off Portobello Road, until 6 November.  Info: 7361 3618/ 


from Wednesday 26 October

* The Island Nation, Sri Lanka 2009: a young Tamil woman is trapped in rebel-held territory; a British aid worker is desperate to get her out; a Norwegian politician, thinks he has a plan for peace. But nothing is certain – and nobody is safe, £12/£15/£17, Arcola theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, E8, until 19 November. Info: 7503 1646/ Arcola 

+ The gobsmacking moment that led to a drama about Sri Lanka

* Daughters of the Curry Revolution, an exploration into Afreena's dad's life; from his journey to this country, to his journey to this day, £6, Camden Peoples Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Road, NW1, until 28 October. Info: 7419 4841


Thursday 27-Friday 28 October

* Dear Home Office, eight young refugees from Afghanistan, Albania, Ertitrea and Somalia, and their caseworker play versions of themselves to show the challenges they face, £20/£8,  Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Road, N7. Info: 7609 1800










Monday 24 October
Saving Africa's Elephants: Hugh and the Ivory War, 9pm, BBC1
* Analysis: The Myth of Mobs, 8.30pm, R4
* Natural Histories: Honeyguide, 9pm, R4
Tuesday 25 October
Saving Africa's Elephants: Hugh and the Ivory War, 11.45pm, BBC1
* Natural Histories: Toad, 11am, R4
* Costing the Earth:  Forests of the Orangutan, 3.30pm, R4
Wednesday 26 October
* Free Thinking; The Culture of Modern South Africa, 10pm, R3
* Costing the Earth, 9pm, R4