Hussan and Harry
Based on true stories collected from the city and written by Nick Walker
Directed by Justine Themen
In association with Talking Birds
Written by Nick Walker, the play was based on true stories collected from the city and was a collaboration with local theatre company Talking Birds, with support from Coventry City Council Youth Service.
The production followed the story of Harry, who was fourteen when Coventry was bombed. His city was devastated, taking with it friends, family and neighbours. As the sky burned above, the rubble below buried a tragedy so deep that even the front line was a happier place than Harry’s home.
Sixty years later, a group of teenage boys are housed next door to him. For the boys, the city is both welcoming and hostile. It is a refuge where they are met with mistrust and resentment – not least from Harry. However, it is also the start of an unexpected friendship.
The play questions whether Harry and the boys can find similarities in their past to help them deal with the wounds of the present and explores what it means to live in a city of reconciliation.
The project started in September 2004, when, as part of their reminiscence training, participants of the Belgrade Youth Theatre interviewed elderly Coventry residents who had lived during the war. The particpants worked alongside Yuva, a group run by Coventry City Council Youth Service for young people people newly arrived in the city, and used interviews and improvisations from both groups to create Hussan and Harry.
Director Justine Themen commented:
“Hussan and Harry was conceived in response to a combination of two factors – the first, the anniversary of World War II (with all its very particular repercussions for Coventry) and the second, the fact that many of the refugees now arriving in the city are escaping situations of warfare in their own countries.
“We felt that a show that combined these elements would enable us to use an improved understanding of our own history to better understand the history of the new incoming communities, our new neighbours.”
Writer – Nick Walker
Director – Justine Themen
Movement Director / Assistant Director – Helen Tennison
Designer – Janet Vaughan
Sound Designer – Derek Nisbet
Lighting Designer – Jo Dawson
Costume / Props – Anna Lewis
Producer – Jenny Evans
Production Manager – Ian Lewis
Stage Management – Elizah Jackson
Lighting Operation – Glyn Edwards
Sound Operation – Charlotte Ford
The Belgrade Community & Education Company:
Associate Director – Community & Education – Justine Themen
Administration – Ann Coyne and Lori Ford
Coventry City Council Youth Service:
Senior Youth Worker – Sheila Bidmeade
P/T Assistant Youth Worker – John Nisr