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Grenfell: In the words of survivors

Tower Blocks UK visited the National Theatre to watch a powerful verbatim play by Gillian Slovo - Grenfell: In the words of survivors. The script is based entirely on interviews, statements and dialogue from the residents and survivors of the tragedy.

The play opens with each actor introducing themselves and the Grenfell resident they are portraying and then moves into testimony of their history in the tower and what life was like before the fire. What really comes across is the closeness of this community and how they came together in the years prior to the fire to tackle various issues, including the stigma and attitudes they faced from the council and contractors when the block was badly refurbished. The emergence of the Grenfell Action Group is described as a response to these issues and the frustration residents felt when they were not being heard on concerns of fire and building safety.

The second half of the play covers the night of the fire on 14th June 2017 and the horror and impossible choices that the residents were faced with, as well as the chaotic, disjointed response from the services that were supposed to help them.

Hearing the residents words directly was harrowing and offered a difficult but necessary insight into their unimaginable plight and the suffering experienced by the community during and following the fire.

The play was written and delivered with a strong level of respect and sensitivity. It was clear that the cast themselves care deeply about justice for the survivors and bereaved and they give passionate and energetic performances - urging the audience to also take action themselves - to act upon their own sense of anger at how this was allowed to happen and to never let Grenfell to be forgotten.


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