Whither Would You Go? - gala evening for refugee crisis

Sandra Giorgetti

For one evening only, a line-up of West End stars will perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, paired with refugee video stories, to raise funds in support of the work of UN Refugee Agency UNHCR.

Whither Would You Go? has been inspired by Shakespeare’s "refugee" speech from The Book of Sir Thomas More, written as a plea for tolerance during the London riots of May which took place 500 years ago this year.

Part of an international initiative—the first production took place Los Angeles earlier in the year—Whither Would You Go? is a response to the unprecedented level of forcibly displaced people around the world which includes an estimated 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Further productions are planned for New York and Sydney.

Participants for the 22 October event currently include Bertie Carvel, Lee Evans, Martin Freeman, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Wunmi Mosaku, James Norton, Jack Whitehall and Olivia Williams with further names to be added.

The evening includes a special guest performance by actor Jay Abdo, a refugee of his native Syria, which he left in 2011 to escape persecution after speaking out against the Assad government.

Director Jamie Lloyd said, "Whither Would You Go? uses the words of William Shakespeare to highlight our shared humanity. When we focus on what we all have in common, we can start a conversation.

"With more than 65m forcibly displaced people in the world—the highest levels ever recorded—we should be talking and we should be acting."

Whither Would You Go? will take place on 22 October at London's Harold Pinter Theatre.

All profits will go to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Those wishing to make donations may do so online.