Full casting and creative team is announced today for Heart of Hammersmith, the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s first large-scale community play celebrating true stories of West London with a cast of over 40 local people, aged from 11–88 years, running in the Main House from Thursday 12 to Saturday 14 August.
Heart of Hammersmith is written and created by Nicholai La Barrie (Tina – The Tina Turner Musical Resident Director and Lyric Associate Director) with The Lyric Community Company, directed by Eva Sampson (Decades, The Tide) with Alex Hurst (Lyric Resident Assistant Director, Birkbeck Placement) with set and design by Charlotte Espiner (Kingdom Come, It is Easy to be Dead), lighting design by Shaun Parry (Broadway Jews, This Is My Body), sound design by Lorna Munden (Noises Off, Cinderella), and choreography by Diane Alison-Mitchell (A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Criterion, When The Crows Visit).
Heart of Hammersmith celebrates West London stories past and present. The production started rehearsals in January during Lockdown via Zoom with the Lyric Community Company’s 17 young members, aged 18-25. The production has been developed throughout the year and now brings together a cast of over 40 West Londoners, including an Adult Community Chorus, aged 30-88 years; the Amici Dance Theatre Company of disabled and non-disabled performers aged from 20-70 years; and a Young Lyric Partner’s Chorus, aged 11-18 years.
From lives lived to lives lost, lives forced out and lives brought together, Heart of Hammersmith celebrates West London through all of its hardships and triumphs and the vibrant individuals who make it what it is. Inspired by true stories from West London, the play tracks immigrant arrivals, million-pound homes and social housing sitting side by side, the rise of gentrification and the shadows left by the Grenfell tragedy, the changing of attitudes, facing of tragedies and the rallying of a resilient community. Heart of Hammersmith tells the story of Dieppe Street, a street from West London’s past, and a place that today unites us.
The adult Community Chorus includes Colm Gallagher, Patricia Mantuano, Denise Clarke-Williams and Nutun Ahmed in speaking roles and Alessio Bagiardi, Francis Cherry, Margaret Cramp, Isobel Leaviss, James Mcauley, Binita Patel, Lizzie Popoff, Priya Narayan, Pauline Singh, Anne-Marie Wedderburn, Jamie Woodard, Donna Wright and Faisal Yusuf.
Amici Dance Theatre Company is a unique dance theatre company integrating non-disabled and disabled artists and performers. The Amici Company includes: John Athnasious, Stuart Cowie, Ekeama Henry-Ferrazzi , Nicolas Serial, Wilma Serial and Delson Weeks.
The children’s Partner Chorus includes: Amaiya Coleman, Luka Jankovick, Nikolas Obradovic, Agnes Suckling, Imiya Summers and Alyssia Tachie-Menson in collaboration with the Young Lyric Partner Organisations Action on Disability, Amici Dance Theatre Company, New English Ballet Theatre, Tri-Borough Music Hub, Turtle Key Arts and Zoo Nation Academy of Dance.
Working together with Nicholai La Barrie (Tina – The Tina Turner Musical Resident Director), the script has been created with The Lyric Community Company, aged 18-25, from West London. They are Gehna Badhwar, Eva Bate, Wes Bozonga, Ömer Cem Çoltu, Tom Claxton, Kitty Cockram, James Douglas-Quarcoopome, Harry Drane, Harri-Rose Hudson, Lex MacQuire, Ella McCallum, Ele McKenzie, Alfie Neill, Priyanka Patel, Danielle Tama, Wilf Walsworth, Aliyah Yanguba.
Colm Gallagher is part of the adult Community Chrous in a speaking role. He grew up in Newry Co Down and has worked in Hammersmith and West London since 1988. Colm is the Education Co-Director and assistant choreographer with AMICI Dance Theatre and regularly performs with his daughter in their productions. He said: “Creating and performing together is always exciting. The fact that this is such a large scale piece ups the ante for me. I am excited by, firstly, that sense of excitement of being with other actors and performers on that stage again. Secondly, I love the process of putting together such an ambitious piece of community healing, particularly after all we have been through for the last couple of years. Finally, probably connected with this, is actually getting to see London again on a weekly basis after not being near it for so long.”
Patricia Mantuano grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where she studied Gastronomy and Performing Arts and has lived in London for the past 16 years. Patricia has previously competed in show jumping, horse riding and swimming, she also plays guitar, drums, dances salsa, and is handle of firearms, and takes part in Mixed Martial Arts. Her other hobbies are studying psychology, forensic science, and Quantum Mechanics. She said: “I wanted to join Heart of Hammersmith to be able to give a voice to the unknown. I’m excited by the eclecticism and to see that every life has an equal value.”
Denise Clarke-Williams grew up in and lives in Chelsea. She attended Holland Park School, Kensington and Chelsea College London Southbank University. She is a carer for her son and mum, and in her spare time is writing a book about her mum’s journey from Jamaica to England in 1953. She also enjoys cooking Jamaican food and DJing. She said: “I’m excited to see the story come alive and knowing that others will be thrilled to see it, I wanted to join, especially as I grew up in West London, and one of the parts, Connie, reminded me of my mum.”
Nutun Ahmed was born in Kensington and grew up in Ealing where she has lived over the past 50 years. She is an architect and past projects she has worked on include Heathrow terminal 2. In her spare time she likes to paint and draw and has recently illustrated a children’s book for publication. She said: “The idea of being part of a community production based in West London made me want to join and seeing the collaborative effect of the play being written by the cast and Nicholai. I originally thought that I would only be considered for the chorus, this excited me as I sing in a community pop choir on a regular basis.”
The performances will be socially distanced in line with See It Safely industry approved guidelines and all tickets are £10 available at www.lyric.co.uk