Casting Announced For Liberian Girl At The Royal Court

Casting is announced for Liberian Girl a new play by first time writer Diana Nneka Atuona. Directed by Matthew Dunster, the Alfred Fagon award-winning play follows one teenage girl’s story of survival.

The cast includes Cecilia Noble (recently nominated for an Olivier Award for her role in The Amen Corner at the National Theatre and who last performed at the Royal Court in Truth and Reconciliation) and Fraser James (who has previously worked with Matthew Dunster on Mogadishu,Troilus & Cressida, The Frontline and Love the Sinner). They will be joined by an exciting young cast of new talent including Landry Adelard, Michael Ajao, Mariéme Diouf, Edward Kagutuzi, Valentine Olukoga, Weruche Opia and Juma Sharkah.

Liberian Girl is part of the Royal Court’s Jerwood New Playwrights programme, which aims to discover and support the next generation of world class playwrights, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

Between 1989 and 2003 the Civil War in Liberia saw over 200,000 people killed, a million others displaced into refugee camps, and over 15,000 children recruited into ‘Small Boys Units’.

Named best new play of the year at the 2013 Alfred Fagon Awards, Liberian Girl powerfully explores issues of sexual violence in conflict and examines the female experience of war. It was performed as a staged presentation at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, chaired by William Hague and Angelina Jolie, at the Excel Centre, in June 2014.

After its run at the Royal Court, Liberian Girl will tour to the CLF Art Café at the Bussey Building in Peckham from 3 – 7 February and the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham from 10 – 14 February. For further details please visit www.royalcourttheatre.com.

The production is directed by Matthew Dunster, designed by Anna Fleischle, lighting is by Philip Gladwell, sound design is by George Dennis and fight direction is by Kate Waters.

Diana Nneka Atuona attended the Royal Court’s Peckham Writers Group, as part of the Royal Court’s Theatre Local workshops in 2012 and this is her first play.

Matthew Dunster directs. As a director, his recent credits include The Lightning Child by Ché Walker and Arthur Darvill at Shakespeare’s Globe, The Love Girl & the Innocent by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and You Can Still Make a Killing by Nicholas Pierpan at Southwark Playhouse, Mametz for National Theatre Wales, Before the Party for the Almeida Theatre, A Sacred Flame for English Touring Theatre, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Open Air Regents Park Theatre, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning at the Royal Exchange Manchester and Mogadishu at Royal Exchange, Manchester and Lyric Hammersmith, The Most Incredible Thing at Sadler’s Wells, The Two Gentleman of Verona at Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe. In 2015 he makes his RSC directing Love’s Sacrifice by John Ford. As a writer, his credits include Children’s Children at the Almeida Theatre and You Can See the Hills at the Royal Exchange, Manchester.

Cast Biographies
Landry Adelard has previously appeared on stage in Number 1, a solo performance at the Bush Theatre directed by Tim Hoare and The Killing Class at Oxford House. Landry also starred in the Young Vic and Guardian short film Colombite Tantalite. His television credits include Casualty, Excluded and Crimewatch (all BBC).

Michael Ajao recently appeared in Our Town at the Almeida Theatre. He made his screen debut in Joe Cornish’s critically acclaimed film Attack the Block and since then has appeared on television in Colour and The Damnation of Darwin.

Mariéme Diouf makes her professional theatre debut in Liberian Girl. Mariéme’s theatre credits whilst training at Arts Educational include Vernon God Little, As You Like It, The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, The Glass Menagerie, The Seagull and Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. She also appeared in the Olympics opening ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle. On film she has featured in Tarzan Untamed.

Fraser James has previously worked with Matthew Dunster on Mogadishu (Manchester Royal Exchange/ Lyric Hammersmith), Love the Sinner (National Theatre), Troilus and Cressida and The Frontline (both Shakespeare’s Globe). His other theatre credits include King Lear (Royal Court), President of an Empty Room (National Theatre), Our Country’s Good (Out of Joint), The Winter’s Tale (Southwark Playhouse), King Lear (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Chimps (Hampstead Theatre). Fraser’s screen credits include Sometimes in April, Wing Commander, Shopping, Outnumbered, Law & Order, Robin Hood, Judge John Deed, The Armando Ianoucci Show, In Exile, Life After Birth and Prime Suspect II.

Edward Kagutuzi’s theatre credits include Pandora’s Box (National Tour) and House of Corrections (Riverside Studios). On screen he has appeared in Law And Order: UK2, Dubplate Drama, Crimewatch, Brixton Hill Cop and The Mirror Boy. Edward also featured in Emeli Sande’s music video for hit record Heaven.

Cecilia Noble has just completed filming Paul Whitehouse’s new BBC2 series Nurse and feature film The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith. At the Royal Court Cecilia has previously appeared in Truth and Reconciliation, This Is a Chair and Sacred Heart. Her credits for the National Theatre include The Amen Corner for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Olivier Award nomination, The Recruiting Officer, Henry V and His Dark Materials. At the RSC she has been in Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night and The Tempest. Cecilia’s other theatre credits include Once a Catholic (Tricycle Theatre), The Tempest and Philoctetes (both Cheek by Jowl) and A Raisin in the Sun (Young Vic). Noble’s screen credits include Waking the Dead, Silent Witness, The Bill and Holby City.

Valentine Olukoga made his theatre debut in The Burning Bird at the Unicorn Theatre in 2012. He also performed in Cape at the Unicorn Theatre in 2013. Valentine has appeared in rehearsed readings for Not What You See and Machu bloody Pichu, both for Sixteenfeet Productions.

Weruche Opia has appeared on stage in Shakespeare Sonnets at Shakespeare’s Globe (directed by Mark Rylance), and The Inheritors, For Colored Girls and The Waiting Room at The National Theatre Nigeria. Weruche is an accomplished screen actor, with credits including Cleo in Bad Education, Suspects, Banana and Top Boy.

Juma Sharkah makes her professional theatre debut in Liberian Girl. Whilst training at Arts Educational Juma’s theatre credits include Harvest, Macbeth, Punk Rock, All My Sons, Three Sisters and Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. This year she was awarded the Laurence Olivier Bursary.

Visit The Royal Court website for show times and bookings

Diana Nneka Atuona: www.afridiziak.com

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