A boy is wearing a red backpack, he has dark skin and hair, he faces away from the image so you can't see his face.

THE BOY AT THE BACK OF THE CLASS

Tue 12 - Sat 16 March 2024
Tickets Adults £25, Children £20*

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A Children's Theatre Partnership and Rose Theatre production

Based on the book by Onjali Q. Raúf
Adapted for the stage by Nick Ahad
Directed by Monique Touko

There used to be an empty chair at the back of the class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He’s nine years old (just like me), but he’s very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets – not even lemon sherbets, which are my
favourite!


After learning that he has fled his own war-torn country, Ahmet’s classmates have ‘The Greatest Idea in the World’ – a magnificent plan to reunite Ahmet with his family. An unexpected and often hilarious adventure follows, all topped off with a terrific twist.

Told from a child’s perspective, balancing heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class highlights the power of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense and reminds us that everyone needs a place to call home.

Photography by Manuel Harlan.

Running Time

Approx. 2 hours including an interval

Age Guidance

7+

Tickets

Tuesday: 7pm
Wednesday: 10.30am & 2pm
Thursday: 10.30am & 2pm
Friday: 7pm
Saturday: 2pm & 7pm

Adults £25, Children £20*

*All ticket prices include a £3 per ticket booking fee.

Assisted Performances:

Audio Described performance: Saturday 16 March, 2:00pm

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Priya Davdra Headshot
Priya Davdra (Mrs Khan / Mum)

Priya Davdra is a British Indian actress based in London. Priya graduated from the International school of screen acting and since then has been cast in various television shows, short films, and voice over work. Her most recent credits include Queenie (Ch4), Count Abdullah (ITVX ), There will be soft rains (Short film) and Eastenders (BBC1) where she was a series regular. Her passion for acting grew when she had her first debut as the lead in the Telugu feature film 'Naan Yaar' which was released in Chennai cinemas in 2016. Priya is also a trained Bollywood/Commercial dancer and has performed abroad and around the UK on stages such as the 02 & Birmingham NEC.

Sasha Desouza-Willock  Headshot
Sasha Desouza-Willock (Alexa)

Theatre credits include: Disruption (Park Theatre); Open (National Theatre) and Jugantor. Television credits include: Industry (Bad Wolf/HBO); Deep Heat (Slam Films/ITV2); London Kills (Acorn TV/BBC1); Inside Man (Hartswood Films/BBC); The Main Part (Studio 72/iPlayer); Adult Material (Channel 4/Fifty Fathoms Productions) and Doctors (BBC). Film credits include: Fired (iDream Productions).

Abdul-Malik Janneh Headshot
Abdul-Malik Janneh (Michael)

Abdul-Malik Janneh graduated from Rose Bruford College in 2022. Since then, he has filmed short film Said in Passing, music video We’d Be Good, and commercials for Starbucks, Curry’s and The Gym Group. He has just finished playing Father Glanville in Layered Reality’s The Gunpowder Plot.

Petra Joan-Athene Headshot
Petra Joan-Athene (Josie)

Petra recently graduated from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Recent stage credits include: Princess and the Frog (Hull Truck Theatre); The Hare, the Moon and the River (Tidal Tales Collective). Credits whilst training include: Emilia, Vanity Fair, Enemy of the People, As You Like It, Follow the Stars, The Humans and Meet Me At Dawn.

Joe McNamara  Headshot
Joe McNamara (Brendan)

Television Credits: Jeff in Call The Midwife S11 (BBC). Theatre Credits: Witness for the Prosecution (Eleanor Lloyd Productions / Rebecca Stafford Productions), Don Carlos (LAMDA), Othello (LAMDA), She Stoops To Conquer (LAMDA), and Uncle Vanya (LAMDA). Short Film Credits: 24 Hours (LAMDA).

Gordon Millar Headshot
Gordon Millar (Tom)

Training: BA Hons in Physical Theatre, East 15 Acting School. Theatre Credits include: Harry Potter & The Cursed Child (West End); M.E.H (The Outbound Project); FAQ (New Wolsey Theatre); 12 Million Volts (The Outbound Project); Goosebumps! (The Vaults); The Snow Queen (Z- Arts); The Tempest (Theatre Ark); Boy in At The Inland Sea (Big Brum Theatre Company). Voice Over: Neville Longbottom & Fred Weasley in A Journey To Hogwarts (Pottermore); Where the Street Ends (SAE). Workshops: Stranger Things: The First Shadow; Harry Potter & The Cursed Child.

Farshid Rokey Headshot
Farshid Rokey (Ahmet)

Theatre Includes: He Said, She Said (Kiln Theatre/Synergy Theatre); The Boy With Two Hearts (National Theatre/Wales Millennium Centre); Flight (Bridge Theatre); Elephant (Birmingham Rep); The Jungle (St Ann’s Warehouse, New York); Goats (Royal Court); Asylum (Tamasha Theatre); 10,000 Smarties (Three Streets/Oxford Old Fire Station); Another World (National Theatre); Martyr (Bristol Old Vic/Traverse Theatre/Unicorn Theatre); Love Your Soldiers (Crucible, Sheffield); Star Crossed (Bush Theatre); The Kite Runner (Nottingham Playhouse/ Liverpool Playhouse); Mogadishu (Lyric Hammersmith/Royal Exchange Manchester/UK Tour).

Zoe Zak Headshot
Zoe Zak (Clarissa)

Zoe graduated from LAMDA in 2023. Credits include: The Devil's Hour (Amazon Studios); Doctors (BBC); REP (Brixton House); Soldier On (UK Tour, The Other Palace & Canadian Stage, Toronto; Foxfinder (Edinburgh Fringe); Pinch Punch (Old Vic, Rehearsed Reading); Street Scene (Young Vic/The Opera Group). Whilst at LAMDA, Zoe was a finalist in the BBC Carleton Hobbs Radio competition, receiving a special commendation from the panel. Productions included The Suicide (Dir. Oliver Dawe); Mosquitoes (Dir. Sara Aniqah Malik); Pomona (Dir. Emma Baggott) and Twelfth Night (Dir. Sophie Russell).

Megan Grech Headshot
Megan Grech (Ensemble/Understudy)

Training: Guildford School of Acting. Recent theatre credits include: The Corn is Green (dir. Dominic Cooke, National Theatre); Othello (Union Theatre); Broken Biscuits (GEST) and Romeo and Juliet (This is my Theatre). Film and TV Credits: Tehran (dir. Arun Gopalan, Maddox Films); Ghosts (BBC); Oi’ Pussy! (BBC3). Commercials include: McDonald’s and DHL. Recent workshops: The House of Bernarda Alba (dir. Rebecca Frecknall, NT Studio)

Adam Seridji Headshot
Adam Seridji (Ensemble/Understudy)

Adam Seridji is an actor and spoken word artist born and raised in South London. He has trained with the Battersea Arts Centre, Old Vic, National Youth Theatre and Theatre Peckham where he was part of the REP company in 2021. His TV credits are two episodes of Casualty (BBC). Theatre credits include CARE (Theatre Peckham), ONE WAY OUT (Theatre Peckham and Edinburgh Finge).

Onjali Q. Raúf (Author)

Onjali Q. Raúf MBE is a bestselling children’s author and human rights activist. She is the founder and CEO of two NGO’s: Making Herstory, an organisation working to end all forms of domestic violence, abuse and trafficking crimes perpetrated against women and children; and O’s Refugee Aid Team, through which she mobilises aid convoys and funds to help refugees surviving across northern France and beyond. She is the author of The Boy at the Back of the Class (Orion Children’s Books, 2018), which won the 2019 Blue Peter Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, The Star Outside My Window (Orion Children’s Books, 2019), The Day We Met The Queen (World Book Day, 2020), The Night Bus Hero (Orion Children’s Books, 2020), The Great (Food) Bank Heist (Barrington Stoke, 2021), The Lion Above the Door (Orion Children’s Books, 2021), Hope on the Horizon (Wren & Rook, 2022), Where Magic Grows: Unique Tales of Wonder and Enchantment (Orion Children’s Books, 2023). Onjali is also a Patron of VIP Reading, Facefront Theatre, and NIA, and was listed as one of BBC’s 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2019. Raúf was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to literature and women’s rights. 

Nick Ahad (Adapter)

Nick Ahad is a multiple award-winning journalist, writer and broadcaster working across TV, theatre and radio. Plays include: Redcoats (National Tour 2019, Mikron Theatre Company), Glory (National Tour, 2019, Dukes Theatre, Red Ladder, Tamasha), Partition (2017, 2018, Leeds Playhouse/BBC Radio), The Chef Show (National Tour 2016, 2018, 2019, Ragged Edge Productions, Stage Performance of the Year Rural Touring Awards 2018, Best Live Performance Cumbria Life Culture Awards), Coming Home Together (BBC Radio Leeds), Muslamic Love Story (DepArts), Second Gen (DepArts), A Muslim, A Jew and A Christian Walk into A Room; My Mum the Racist; Inner Voices (JB Shorts) and Nor Any Drop (Northern Tour Red Ladder/Peshkar); Muslamic Love Story (Theatre in the Mill, Bradford).

Radio work includes four-part comedy Umbreen’s Junction for BBC Sounds, starring Reece Dinsdale and co-written and co-directed with Yasmeen Khan. He also wrote the opening episode of a five-episode audio drama produced by Claybody Theatre.

He is currently under commission with Leeds Playhouse, Rifco Theatre Company and Northern Broadsides.

His TV writing includes an episode of Better, a BBC primetime drama made by Sister Pictures, several episodes of Emmerdale and an original series developed by BBC Drama and Avatar Productions. He has an original series in development with SISTER Pictures and was the runner up in the Red Planet Prize in 2020.

As a broadcaster he has presented hundreds of hours of live radio for the BBC and many on-camera events for arts organisations and festivals. Nick is an award-nominated broadcaster for BBC Radio Leeds where he has presented his own weekend shows since 2014. In November 2020 he joined the leading BBC Radio 4 arts programme Front Row as a presenter. Nick has appeared on BBC Breakfast as a cultural commentator and hosted dozens of live events for festivals and arts organisations. Former Arts Editor of the Yorkshire Post, he is currently the Yorkshire Post theatre correspondent/ chief critic and his feature writing has appeared in the Guardian and The Independent. He regularly reviews theatre for the Guardian.
 

Monique Touko (Director)

Monique Touko is a London-based multidisciplinary artist working in theatre, radio, TV and film.  She was the recipient of the 2022 Stage Debut Award for Best Director.  Her directing training includes Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme at Royal Exchange Manchester. At the Young Vic, her training has involved the Intro to Directing course led by Sacha Weres, Boris Karloff Trainee Assistant Directors Programme and the Jerwood Assistant Director Scheme. In 2022, Monique was selected to take part in the National Theatre’s annual Directing Course. 
 
Monique’s skill set includes facilitation, devising, international work, new writing, script reading, drama school shows and projects, training actors and working with young people.  She is also part of The Ubunifu Space- A definitive guide to music and culture from the youth of Africa and the diaspora – the Ubunifu way. Monique is project manager for the Space and regular member of the UK reaction team on the YouTube channel which has a global following of 320K+ subscribers and over 50 million views.

Theatre Credits: Days of Significance (Guildhall School of Music and Drama); School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Lyric Hammersmith); We Need New Names (Fifth Word Theatre); Gone Too Far (Theatre Royal Stratford East); The Clinic (Almeida Theatre); Gloria (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland); Fair Play (Bush Theatre); Malindadzimu (Hampstead Theatre); Yerma (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts); Dance Nation (Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance); Blank (Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance); Blood Wedding (Young Vic); Rosmersholm (Duke of York Theatre); Richard II (Shakespeare's Globe); This Might Not Be It (Bush Theatre); Cock (Chichester Festival Theatre); Noughts and Crosses (Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts); On the Exhale (Traverse Theatre); And I dreamt I was drowning (Talawa); Yellowman (Young Vic); Kanye The First (HighTide); ALT Showcase (Southwark Playhouse); The Place Where We Lived (HighTide); B!RTH Festival (Royal Exchange); Wishlist (Royal Exchange / Royal Court). TV & Film Credits: Bail (Franklyn Lane Film Productions).
 

Gallery

  • Two beefeaters stand in front of a gym wall
  • 3 kids surround a girl reading a note
  • Actors playing a game
  • Kid holds an apple in a performative manner
  • actor portraying child crouches with backpack
  • Man and woman in winter garb chat
  • 3 actors observe girl writing on notepad
  • Girl actress sits pouting while another girl sits on floor consoling her
  • group of actors portraying children  pantomimes driving bus while two other children sit behind
  • Women dances in ballet while a group of actors portraying children look on.
  • Group of actors portraying children stand posing
  • Actors portraying children sit in class

Videos

Rehearsal trailer

  • 'A lovely, warm-hearted celebration of courage and friendship'

    THE GUARDIAN
  • 'This is a beautiful, open-hearted debut that should help children be the best they can be and realise the power of kindness'

    BOOK TRUST