This World Refugee Day, six actors have teamed up with the International Rescue Committee and The Globe Theatre to share Shakespeare's rallying cry for humanity, The Strangers' Case. Meet them and learn why they have chosen to step up and stand with refugees.
"This speech is an urgent reminder of our collective responsibility to change our world for the better."
British actor Alfred Enoch is best known for his role as Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter film series. The son of actor William Russell, he is familiar with Shakespeare and has spent his whole life around the theatre.
"Collaborating with the International Rescue Committee and Shakespeare's Globe has been a really special way to mark World Refugee Day," he said. "To find a four-hundred-year-old text speaking so eloquently to the challenges facing our society in this day and age is a testament to the universal power and humanity of Shakespeare's writing. But it is also an urgent reminder of our collective responsibility to change our world for the better. We can take our cue from the speech by working to make ours a genuinely open and inclusive society that stands with and welcomes refugees. We must cleave to the hope that 400 hundred years from now these words will have lost, if not their power, then at least their pertinence."
Best-known for her role as Samantha Jones in the HBO romantic-comedy series Sex and the City, Kim Cattrall opens The Strangers' Case with William Shakespeare's powerful words "Imagine that you see the wretched strangers, their babies at their backs and their poor luggage, plodding to the coasts and ports for transportation."
A campaigner for better care for breast cancer, Kim has also spoken out about mental health. She is no stranger to London's theatre stages, starring in productions including Linda at The Royal Court.
Sex and the City earnt Kim five Emmy nominations and four Golden Globe award nominations. This World Refugee Day, she stands alongside actors and refugees alike to draw attention to this global crisis.
"I feel deeply connected to the issues facing refugees and people on the move."
Noma is an award-winning British actress, who was born in Swaziland, of South African parents. She lived in Botswana, Kenya and Uganda, before arriving in the UK as a refugee in 1977 when she was eight years old.
Noma has undertaken many roles in Shakespeare plays, including Anthony and Cleopatra, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and is currently playing the role of Hermione Granger in the West End and Broadway productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
"World Refugee Day is a unique opportunity to celebrate the contributions that refugees make to societies around the world," she said. "Having lived in Uganda, I feel deeply connected to the issues facing refugees and people on the move, as Uganda itself hosts around 800,000 refugees. I agree with Shakespeare – it’s important that we show our humanity and welcome them."
"It is vital to recognise that at our core, we are all connected."
Lena Headey has starred in various roles in films such as Waterland, The Brothers Grimm and The Broken, but she is best known for her role as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, which she has played since 2011.
Lena first travelled to Greece with her Game of Thrones co-stars. Lena became an official IRC Voice in January of this year, and said: "I believe it is vital to do everything I can to bring people together and to recognise that at our core, we are all connected."
"Refugees are on the move for a reason."
Indira Varma is another star from HBO's Game of Thrones. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1995, and has appeared in several television series’, including The Canterbury Tales, Luther and Target. She is also an acclaimed theatre actress, having played Bianca in Shakespeare’s Othello at the National Theatre, and Tamora, Queen of Goths in Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Indira visited the International Rescue Committee's programmes in Serbia in 2016, where thousands of refugees were stranded following the closing of borders along the Balkan route. “All these stories, all these people, are valid” she remarked at the time. “They are on the move for a reason.”
Having graduated from RADA in 2016, Jamael Westman’s first role out of acting school was in The White Devil at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
He now plays the title role in the West End production of Hamilton, for which he was nominated for this year’s Laurence Olivier award for best actor in a musical.
In the film, Jamael sits in the candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to read the lines: "You had taught how insolence and strong hand should prevail, how order should be quelled."
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