Behind The Scenes: The Duke

Behind The Scenes: The Duke

Hoipolloi bring The Duke to IYAF on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th July – the show has been produced in aid of the Save the Children Emergency Fund and has raised over £47,000 for the charity to date. We talk Shôn Dale-Jones about the inspiration behind this funny, poignant and playful show.

I made The Duke back in 2016 because I wanted to find a way of doing something practical about the refugees’ crisis. I’d been becoming increasingly alarmed by the state of the world and felt motivated to try to do something to make it better.

I couldn’t watch more images of the terrifying reality that these people are suffering without contributing towards the relief effort. I’m not a doctor or an engineer – I’m a writer/performer – and so I decided I could write a show which connects us to the crisis and raises money to support Save The Children’s work.

The show is essentially about kindness and generosity and value, in all shapes and forms. A blend of theatre, comedy and storytelling, it weaves together a number of storylines: about me dealing with making compromising changes to a film script I’ve devoted myself to for ten years, my mother’s loneliness, the fate of a valuable family heirloom – a porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback that my father invested in – and my increasing concern for refugees. Across it all, the aim of the show is to increase our ability to empathise.

In the show, as in my life generally, I question the value of what I do, as an artist and as a human being, and am trying to find ways to make any difference, however small. We have a major job to do as people to stop those in power from dismantling the 151 Refugee Convention.

One of my aims with the show is that it will make us think about what it is we value, what we can give, and create a conversation about the refugee crisis. We can’t keep closing our eyes. The Duke is my small way of doing something.

Hoipolloi’s The Duke is being performed at the International Youth Arts Festival on Saturday 07 and Sunday 08 July for more information and tickets click here

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