The Bone Sparrow
By Zana Fraillon | Adapted by S. Shakthidharan
Directed by Esther Richardson
Designed by Miriam Nabarro | Music and Sound by Arun Ghosh
York Theatre Royal, 25 Feb – 5 March
Following critically acclaimed productions of Noughts & Crosses and Crongton Knights, Pilot Theatre return to York Theatre Royal with the world premiere of award-winning Australian playwright S. Shakthidharan’s adaptation of The Bone Sparrow – Zana Fraillon’s beautiful, vivid, and deeply moving story for young adults about a Rohingya refugee boy who has spent his entire life living in a detention centre in Australia.
Directed by Pilot Theatre’s Artistic Director Esther Richardson (Noughts & Crosses, Crongton Knights and Brighton Rock), the new production has its world premiere at York Theatre Royal from 25 Feb to 5 March.
Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland, life behind the fences is all he has ever known. But as he grows, his imagination gets bigger too, until it is bursting at the limits of his world.
One night, Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl appears from the other side of the wires, and brings a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it, she relies on Subhi to unravel her own family’s mysterious and moving history.
Subhi and Jimmie might both find a way to freedom, as their tales unfold. But not until each of them has been braver than ever before.
The cast features Yaamin Chowdhury as Subhi and Mary Roubos as Jimmie. The company also includes Elmi Rashid Elmi, Jum Faruq, Kiran L Dadlani, Siobhan Athwal, Devesh Kishore and Mackenzie Scott.
Playwright S. Shakthidharan said:
“So often we are beaten down by the world. We reshape ourselves to fit into it. Subhi’s story is different. In The Bone Sparrow this imaginative young boy discovers within himself a strength that will change the world around him. It is a classic coming of age story: and yet, so much more. The Bone Sparrow is by turns a wondrous tale of epic, mythical adventure; a realistic appraisal of what it means to grow up without freedom; and a vision of renewed solidarity across our supposed divisions. I have had a great deal of fun collaborating with Pilot to develop a grand theatricality for this work and deepen its relationship with the Rohingya community. I hope audiences are as delighted and moved by this story as we were in the process of adapting it.”
The Bone Sparrow is the third co-production between Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Mercury Theatre Colchester, and York Theatre Royal who formed a new partnership to develop theatre for younger audiences. From 2019-2023 the consortium is commissioning and co-producing an original mid-scale production each year. Each production will play in all the consortium venues as well as touring nationally. Schools’ workshops and outreach projects, along with free digital learning resources, will be available alongside each of the productions.
The consortium’s previous productions were Crongton Knights and Noughts & Crosses, for which Pilot Theatre won Excellence in Touring at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards.
The production has also been developed in association with ATYP (Australian Theatre for Young People) and with the support of Bradford’s SBC Theatre, a group of creative professionals and artists who are committed to making work with, about and for those seeking sanctuary in the UK and internationally.