A benefit performance of the Young Vic's sold-out show A Season in the Congo goes on sale today to raise vital funds for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
All monies made from the matinee performance at 2.30pm on Wednesday 14 August will go directly to support Oxfam's work with Congolese refugees displaced by the current conflict. We are hoping to raise £10,000; tickets will be sold at Young Vic prices, with an added top price band at £50.
The production stars Olivier Award-winner Chiwetel Ejiofor as Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Congo. Earlier this year, Chiwetel joined director Joe Wright and Young Vic artistic director David Lan on a research trip to DRC with Oxfam to visit the country that inspired Aimé Césaire's epic drama which tells of this vibrant nation's turbulent first year of freedom.
A Season in the Congo may be a historical play but its themes continue to reverberate today. In July 2013, tens of thousands of people fled DRC into Uganda after a rebel group attacked a town on the border of the East African country. People fled for their lives with very little and are in urgent need of basic supplies and services. Oxfam is working to provide water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for almost 18,000 refugees living in Bubukwanga camp, western Uganda.
Chiwetel Ejiofor said: "Visiting some of the camps in DRC with Oxfam, I saw some of the bleakest things I've ever witnessed. Thousands upon thousands of people have fled their homes in the east of the country to escape violent rebel forces. It is the sheer scale of it that is almost incomprehensible. David Lan, Joe Wright and I were all deeply moved by this experience, and this fundraiser is just a small way for us to honour the families we met who are trying to live with dignity in desperate conditions"
Director, Joe Wright added: "Our trip to DRC was a life-changing experience. I've never had my heart broken as I did visiting the camps of refugee families. What I most remember now are the faces of the Congolese people we met, especially the children's faces, thousands and thousands and thousands of them, lost, abandoned and forced to fend for themselves in the cruellest circumstances. There are more than two million people homeless and dispossessed due to the conflict in DRC, and in the week the play opened here in London, thousands more families were forced to flee their
Oxfam is delivering more than 70,000 litres of water to the camp in Uganda every day and has set up a water system to ensure refugees have safe access to clean water. Alongside other aid agencies, Oxfam is building toilets and bathing shelters, as well as promoting good hygiene practices.
Any money raised by this benefit performance on 14 August will be channelled directly to this response:
£10 can buy a hygiene kit for one family
£25 can provide ten 14-litre buckets for carrying and storing water
£50 can build a basic latrine that 40 people can use.
Notes to Editors
1. A Season in the Congo tells the true story of the 1960 Congo rebellion and assassination of the political leader Patrice Lumumba in three turbulent acts. After taking control of the newly-formed coalition government, the charismatic leader is immediately beset by resistance from European economic interests, American policymakers and long-simmering tribal divisions. Securing the assistance of a UN peacekeeping force only serves to further divide the Congolese people as Belgian arms and soldiers start to pour into the country. Stripped of his position and placed under house arrest,
Lumumba attempts a final march to power but is fatally betrayed by a former ally.
2. Joe Wright's stellar film credits include the six-time Oscar nominated Atonement which premiered at the 2007 Venice Film Festival; he was the youngest director to ever open this prestigious event. He received four Oscar nominations and won a BAFTA for Pride & Prejudice in 2005. His boldly theatrical adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jude Law and Keira Knightley was one of the biggest film openings of autumn 2012. His production of Arthur Wing Pinero's Trelawny of the Wells is currently playing at the Donmar Warehouse.
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Patrice Lumumba in his Young Vic debut. He received an Olivier for his portrayal of Othello at the Donmar Warehouse in 2008, and a Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Award for his role in Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange at the National Theatre in 2000. Chiwetel has received three Golden Globe nominations for his work on screen. Film and TV audiences will have seen him last in Stephen Poliakoff's BBC drama Dancing on the Edge as well as in Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things, the dystopian sci-fi Children of Men and thriller Salt. He will star in
Steve McQueen's hotly-anticipated film 12 Years a Slave, opening later this year.
A Season in the Congo listings information
Box office: www.youngvic.org / 020 7922 2922
Tickets: £10, £19.50, £25, £32.50, £50 (14 August Oxfam benefit performance only)
Aug 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 Performances at 7.30pm. Dates in bold at 2.30pm & 7.30pm