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BIRMINGHAM REP: City cladding victims back Grenfell play

BIRMINGHAM REP: City cladding victims back Grenfell play

Image: LDRS

City cladding scandal victims have praised Birmingham REP for choosing to stage a play about the Grenfell Inquiry.

Grenfell: Value Engineering – Scenes from The Inquiry – based entirely on the words of those involved in the inquiry so far – is due to come to Birmingham Repertory Theatre in November.

The inquiry into the 2017 disaster has so far made a number of findings including that there is “compelling evidence that the external walls of the building failed to comply with building regulations”.

Since the disaster, residents in high-rise buildings across the country – including Birmingham – have discovered their buildings are also unsafe.

They have seen their properties plummet in value at the same time as rocketing costs for insurance and 24 hour safety watches.

Victims of the scandal in Birmingham have voiced support for the staging of the not-for-profit play at The REP.

Paula Shalloo lives at Hemisphere Apartments in Edgbaston where residents faced extra costs of £2,000 per flat last year – while their homes have reduced in value to £0.

She said: “I think it’s great they are doing it. It is the only place it’s going to happen outside London. It’s really great The REP got it and they understand it is such an important issue.

“I think what the Grenfell Inquiry has shown is that there was a lot of wrongdoing on the part of various companies involved.

“I think anyone living in a building identified as having fire safety risks worries about how the building would react if there were a fire.”

She expressed her gratitude to The REP for the support being shown to BrumLag – a residents’ action group for cladding victims in the city.

At every performance, 25 tickets priced at £5 will be available for Birmingham residents in unsafe tower blocks and The REP will also be splitting a £3 donation from every ticket sold to BrumLag and The Grenfell Foundation.

Jim Illingworth, who lives at Islington Gates in the Jewellery Quarter and faced £18,000 in bills last year, said: “I am 100 per cent behind the whole concept of the production because it shows the need to highlight the deceitfulness of the industry.

“We are really happy that some of the money from the play will go to BrumLag and The Grenfell Foundation.

“It will help us with the lobbying and the exposure of the whole industry which the Government is trying to disguise.”

The play is presented by Nick of Time productions in association with The Playground Theatre, with a creative team who were responsible for the dramatisation of The Colour of Justice – The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

Sean Foley, Artistic Director of The REP said: “It gives the audiences a clearer overview of the dramatic evidence and a rare chance to share in the forensic work of the inquiry so that they can better understand the truth behind this avoidable tragedy that claimed the lives of 72 people.

“It is vitally important that Grenfell: Value Engineering is taken to audiences outside of the capital because the unsafe cladding scandal is not just London-specific.

“As a theatre, The REP has a strong history in producing and presenting challenging works of theatre, and I passionately believe that this not-for-profit production will contribute to a much wider debate on unsafe cladding which affects more than 30,000 people in Birmingham alone.

“This production is a really great opportunity for those communities directly affected by unsafe cladding, and the city at large, to get a better understanding of the inquiry and thus play a part in holding injustice up to account.

“We really want to encourage as many people living in in unsafe cladding tower blocks in Birmingham to come see the play and understand any repercussions the inquiry might have to present policy and future regulation which directly affects them.”

He said the play sheds light on problems “deeply embedded in our society but often swept under the carpet”.

He said: “This play is not just of profound importance to the survivors of the tragedy and their families, but to everyone living in the UK as it lays bare an extraordinary catalogue of greed, fraud, cheating, racism and lying – problems deeply embedded in our society but often swept under the carpet.

“If anything, Grenfell: Value Engineering exposes the fatal consequences of austerity and deregulation which continue to put the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living with unsafe cladding across the UK in dangerous peril.

“The cladding scandal has already claimed the lives of so many innocent people and so many others have endured immense pain and trauma as well as the devastating loss of their homes and belongings.

“Everyone has an interest in this and as people living in the UK we have a responsibility to try to make sure a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire never happens again.

“We hope that the presentation of this production at The REP can play a part in making sure the issues at the heart for the tragedy are dealt with.”

* Grenfell: Value Engineering – Scenes from The Inquiry is due to be shown at The REP from November 16 to 20. Tickets are available from: birmingham-rep.co.uk

 

Words: Mark Cardwell, Local Democracy Reporter


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