Streaming here from 31 July – 9 August
Original play by Bren Gosling has been reimagined into a unique film-theatre hybrid.
Heart-breaking and heart-warming new play explores three characters’ experiences of Diana, Princess of Wales’ famous 1987 visit to London’s first AIDS Unit.
Moment of Grace, written by Bren Gosling and produced by Backstory Ensemble in association with The Actors Centre and The National HIV Story Trust, will debut online at The Actors Centre from 7.30pm on Friday 31 July. The production will stream until 9 August.
Created as a three-character play, Moment of Grace looks at the famous visit of Diana, Princess of Wales to London’s first AIDS Unit in 1987, where she shook a patient’s hand without wearing gloves and in doing so triggered a momentous shift in public and media perceptions of people living with HIV and AIDS.
Moment of Grace explores the impact of this landmark day on three people: Andrew, a patient; Jude, a nurse on the ward; and Donnie, a fireman estranged from his son. The production also takes inspiration from the oral history testimonies that have been collected by the National HIV Story Trust’s archives, and other original interview material, ensuring real experiences are respectfully represented on-screen.
Originally the play was slated to run at The Actors Centre’s flagship venue, Tristan Bates Theatre, but during the Covid-19 lockdown, Moment of Grace was reimagined for the screen. Adhering to social distancing guidelines with actors self-shooting at home, the result is a powerful film-theatre hybrid.
Speaking about streaming Moment of Grace, Writer and Executive Producer, Bren Gosling said: “This story is key part of our recent queer and collective history, which is in danger of being forgotten. In the midst of our current, challenging pandemic times, Moment of Grace reminds us of how acts of kindness can effect a sea change in attitudes towards the marginalised, stigmatised and oppressed; it gives us hope.”
Theatre Programme Manager at The Actors Centre, Mitchell Reeve added: “We are proud to partner with Backstory Ensemble and the National HIV Story Trust to present this heart-wrenching, necessary and urgent story. Merging the immediacy of theatre with the possibility of film, Moment of Grace is a truly unique piece of work that we know will resonate deeply and powerfully with audience members."
The National HIV Story Trust said: “The National HIV Story Trust is recording and preserving stories told by people who have been touched by HIV/AIDS since the1980s. We seek also to re-imagine those experiences through the arts and are proud to associate with this dynamic production of Bren Gosling’s new play Moment of Grace.”
Moment of Grace will stream here on The Actors Centre website from 7.30pm on 31 July – 11.59pm on 9 August.
An exclusive Q&A will also follow the opening night screening at 9pm on 31 July with Bren Gosling (playwright); Nicky Allpress (director); Paul Coleman (producer/editor). The Q&A will include special guests Dr Robert Miller, consultant Physician at CNWL, UCLH and Royal Free Hospital , who witnessed Diana’s 1987 visit, and Leigh Chislett, who has worked as a nurse in HIV care for thirty years and now manages Europe’s largest HIV and Sexual Health Centre - 56 Dean Street.
About Backstory Ensemble
Backstory Ensemble Productions was set up in 2017 to platform the work of writer Bren Gosling. The sell-out Backstory Cabaret - an eclectic mix of original monologues, dance theatre and live music, began the journey, with subsequent events at Bloomsbury Theatre, Union Theatre and The Pleasance (in Untold Stories). Forthcoming productions include two full length plays - PROUD for ATG at New Wimbledon Theatre, Autumn 2020 and INVISIBLE ME showcasing in the 2020 Bloomsbury Festival on October 22nd.
About The Actors Centre
The Actors Centre Established in 1978, The Actors Centre is the UK’s leading professional development organisation, supporting actors and creative talent throughout their careers. Through an unrivalled programme of diverse workshops and masterclasses — led by distinguished practitioners from the worlds of theatre, film and television — The Actors Centre provides an essential space for artists to network, to share, to create, to thrive. We strive to programme an eclectic mix of original, evocative, diverse and challenging theatre that attracts a wide and varied audience.
At the core of our organisation is a commitment to supporting artists — offering opportunities to emerging, as well as established, artists and companies. Our flagship theatre space, the Tristan Bates Theatre, established in 1994, has become a celebrated off-West End venue, presenting high quality, four week plays and musicals. Our smaller space, the John Thaw Studio promotes work-in-progress and allows artists to receive vital feedback on work currently in development. The John Thaw Studio is also home to the John Thaw Initiative, with each season tailored towards supporting a particular demographic of artist, or a particular theme of work.
About The National HIV Story Trust
The National HIV Story Trust (NHST) was established as a repository of real life stories, to preserve the history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, remembering the stories of tragedy but also those of love, compassion and humanity. The lessons from the pandemic remain as pertinent today as they did in the 80s/90s. The NHST hopes the 100+ interviews filmed with survivors and victims’ families, partners and medical professionals, will be a voice for those who didn’t survive, a chance to honour those who did, and an education for those who live so freely today because of this generational struggle.
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