The Duke: Catching up with writer Shon Dale-Jones

    Writer, performer and Artistic Director of Hoipolloi Shôn Dale-Jones presents his one-man show – The Duke (awarded The Scotsman Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Fringe in 2016), which opens tonight. We’re thrilled to welcome this funny and poignant show to Tobacco Factory Theatres, the second performance to open in the all new Spielman Theatre.

    Earlier this year, the show was commissioned as a radio play for BBC Radio, and received a prestigious nomination for a Prix Europa Award in the Best Radio Fiction Category. To date, The Duke has raised almost £50,000 for child refugees via Save the Children Emergency Fund.

    Blending fantasy and reality, this playful show gently challenges our priorities in a world full of crisis. Weaving together the tragi-comic fate of a family heirloom – a porcelain figure of The Duke of Wellington, the quandary of a scriptwriter stretching his integrity and an unfolding disaster as thousands of children flee their homes.

    We spoke to Shôn about his inspiration for the show and why telling the story of The Duke is so important.

    What was your inspiration for creating The Duke?

    I felt compelled to raise money and awareness for refugees after seeing so many horrific images on the news day after day – I thought the best way to do this was to write a play and perform it for free.

    Do you have a favourite line or moment in the play?

    When my mother tells me, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever understand you, Shôni.’ I like it because it’s a very real and very warm thing my mother might say and the audiences always enjoy hearing it.

    How do you want audiences to feel having watched the show?

    Most audiences tell me they enjoy the show because it’s uplifting and it makes them feel there are things they can do for both refugees and loved ones who are becoming elderly.

    Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
    It’s storytelling. It’s mixing fantasy and reality. It has some magic realism. It’s standup meets theatre meets comedy meets drama.

    Why is the story of The Duke important?

    I hope because it humanises ‘refugees’. Refugees are people. It increases our empathy for them

    What do you hope that the audience will experience?
    A desire to give money and support to the appeal –  Save the Children’s Emergency Fund. A desire to empathise and be generous with the people we call refugees during this period of their lives. A desire to re-evaluate their value system.

    Finally, describe The Duke in three words.

    Warm, poignant, fun

    Catch The Duke at Tobacco Factory Theatres tonight and until Sat 03 November in the Spielman Theatre. To find out more and book, visit the main show page.

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