Isis play cancelled before opening night at Swiss Cottage school

Homegrown was due to be shown at UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage. Picture: Helen Maybanks

Homegrown was due to be shown at UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage. Picture: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

A play about young radicalised Muslims travelling from London to Syria to join the Islamic State has been cancelled a fortnight before it was due to open.

Homegrown, a production by the National Youth Theatre (NYT), was to feature a cast of 112 and promised to explore “the implications of radicalism and extremism on the people and communities behind the headlines”.

The creation of director Nadia Latif and playwright Omar El-Khairy, it was inspired by the story of three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green Academy who travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State back in February.

It was heralded as one of the biggest productions in NYT’s 2015 season.

The play was due to be premiered at the UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage next Wednesday – just a stone’s throw away from the Mozart Estate in Queen’s Park where infamous Isis terrorist Mohammed Emwazi grew up – after Tower Hamlets council expressed concern over it being held in Bethnal Green.

But last Thursday (July 28), the NYT cancelled the play claiming the production did not meet standards set.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, organisers said pressure may have been placed by the police and local authorities to have the play cancelled.

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Saying voices “had been silenced”, Ms Latif and Mr El-Khairy claimed police had previously wanted to look at the script of the play and even considered placing plain-clothed officers in the audience.

Camden Council denied playing any part in getting the play cancelled, with a spokesman adding: “We have had no involvement with this play in any form, or spoken to anyone about it.”

A spokesman for the NYT said: “The production of Homegrown will no longer go ahead. After some consideration, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot be sufficiently sure of meeting all of our aims to the standards we set and which our members and audiences have come to expect.”

“All purchased tickets will be fully refunded. Contact the National Theatre Box Office for further details.”

A number of young actors who were due to star in the play tweeted their reaction.

Qasim Mahmood tweeted: “Our voices were silenced today.”

David Hall tweeted: “I don’t know how anything can ever change when we are too scared to say the things that need to be said.”