The Island Nation

by Christine Bacon

Christine Bacon confronts [the Sri Lanka] issues head on… Ria Parry’s fast-paced production packs a lot into 90 minutes, there are strong performances from all and this courageous, heartfelt play deserves a wide audience.” – Camden Revue

‘Heartwrenching… an important piece of theatre’ – Theatre Bubble

‘Compelling’ – The Stage

Arcola Theatre, October 26 – November 19 2016

‘The world does not care. The world doesn’t even know. There are European tourists sipping cocktails right now on the beaches in the south, who have no idea what’s happening in the north.’

Sri Lanka, 2009. A 26-year civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers is coming to an end. The UN, the media and all other independent witnesses are barred from entering the war zone. What happens thereafter is the biggest unreported war story of this century.

Nila, a young Tamil woman is trapped in an ever-decreasing area of rebel-held territory. A British aid worker, Rebecca, wants to help her get out, but can she navigate her way through the UN system? Meanwhile, a Norwegian politician, Erik, tries to bring the warring sides together.

Based on true events, this visceral, ambitious new production takes us to the heart of the unfolding crisis and lays bare the true human cost of what still remains a black hole in history.

The Island Nation is written by ice&fire’s Artistic Director Christine Bacon, co-writer of On the Record (which premiered at the Arcola in 2011) and is directed by Ria Parry (Jane Wenham, The Witch of Walkerne, Out of Joint, Arcola; Albion, Bush).

This project has been supported by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Unity Theatre Trust, the Dischma Charitable Trust and the Fritt Ord Foundation .

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Writer Christine Bacon
Direction Ria Parry
Design James Button
Video Design Louise Rhoades-Brown
Composer & Sound design Harry Blake
Lighting Katy Morison
Movement Direction Kane Husbands
Dialect Kat Hicks
Casting Polly Jerrold
Assistant Director Emily Ling
Costume Supervision Sades Robinson


The Island Nation playtext is available to buy from Oberon Books

“Not least because of Channel 4′s Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields films and Frances Harrison’s book, Still Counting the Dead, the horror of the end of the war in Sri Lanka is not completely buried, as it was in the period immediately after the conflict. The global failure is still, however, too little known to a wider audience. The importance of putting these issues on stage, which touch us all… can hardly be overstated.”

Steve Crawshaw, Director, Office of the Secretary General, Amnesty International

“ice&fire’s stage drama brilliantly captures the dilemmas and arguments around the UN’s grave failure in the last phase of the Sri Lankan civil war and the wider indifference of the international community to the killing of between 40,000 to possibly 70,000 civilians. The play’s portrayal of real events – such as the shelling of UN staff and civilians in the safe zones – is deeply moving and disturbing even for me who has met those involved and studied the audio visual material that exists.”

Frances Harrison, Journalist and Author of ‘Still Counting the Dead: Survivors of Sri Lanka’s Hidden War’

“What happened in Sri Lanka in 2009 is probably the biggest hidden story about mass killings in recent history and we have to believe that the people responsible will sooner or later be brought to justice. The Island Nation is a carefully researched artistic response to these events aimed at a non-specialist audience, contributing in a unique way to a full reckoning of what occurred. The play also illuminates Norway’s most difficult role as a peace facilitator in the final decade of the conflict”

Erik Solheim, Former Norwegian peace envoy

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