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HOW NOT TO DROWN Will Embark on UK Tour

The tour will run Thursday 26 January - Saturday 1 April 2023.

HOW NOT TO DROWN Will Embark on UK Tour

In 2002, in the turmoil after the end of the Kosovan War, an 11-year-old was sent on the notoriously perilous journey across the Adriatic. He was accompanied by a gang of people smugglers to a new life in Europe - How Not to Drown is Dritan Kastrati's real-life story. Relying on young wit and charm on his journey to the UK, Dritan's fight for survival continues when he finds himself caught within the British care system, struggling to cling onto his identity and sense of self. Dritan plays himself at various points in the play which has been co-written with playwright Nicola McCartney, who is herself a foster carer, following 60 hours of recorded interviews between the two of them.

Featuring a diverse cast of five playing more than 30 characters, this is a vibrant story of endurance about a minor who wasn't safe or welcome anywhere in the world. This fast paced mix of physical theatre transports audiences from intimate spaces to locations the size of the ocean, journeying with the then 11-year-old Dritan to experience his world. A shape shifting set and immersive soundtrack of music and indecipherable languages accompany. With an emotional relevance to how the world feels now, this is one boy's story which hopes to give a voice to those who have been through similar experiences.

ThickSkin is well-known for searching out and nurturing emerging talent, showcasing unknown artists alongside a high calibre creative team. ThickSkin first met Dritan thirteen years ago through a theatre training programme for young people and have stayed in touch, mentored and supported him as a performer since then. Through How Not To Drown, ThickSkin and Nicola McCartney offered Dritan a platform and facilitated him as a co-writer of his first stage play.

Co-writer and performer Dritan Kastrati said: "This is my story, but it could be anyone's. Just for one second imagine there is a war happening in the UK now, which direction would you run for safety? It would be awful. British families fleeing, children separated from their parents. But it's happening every day across the world. It happened to me. I wanted to share my story, in my own words, as a child coming to the UK alone. It's a story we don't usually hear about asylum seekers. It's not a sad story, actually parts of it are pretty funny, but it is truthful and sometimes painful."

Director Neil Bettles said: "After the huge success of How Not To Drown at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, it feels timely and important to be sharing Dritan's story with a wider audience around the UK. It's a show that we are very proud of and includes all the hallmarks of a ThickSkin show - an urgency in its storytelling about an important social issue of our time, delivered with a fast-paced, cinematic, dynamic quality that we hope will have broad appeal.

"How Not To Drown is about losing identity and place in the world. I think it rings true for all of us that feel a little lost and take extreme actions to find ourselves again. Against the context of current world events, this compelling and uplifting true story feels as important now as ever. And having met Dritan Kastrati shortly after his story in the play ends, it feels right that ThickSkin were the company to help him realise his story on stage."

The tour will run Thursday 26 January - Saturday 1 April 2023.

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