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Meet The Boy at The Back of The Class at The Grand this May

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Onjali Q. Raúf’s famous tale of The Boy at The Back of The Class has been beautifully brought to life in a heartwarming new production from renowned writer Nick Ahad (BBC’s Better, Emmerdale, Glory).

Join the class for an unforgettable lesson in the power of friendship and kindness at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Tuesday 7 to Saturday 11 May.

This captivating story is told from a child’s perspective and perfectly balances humour and compassion, highlighting the power of humanity in a world that doesn’t always make sense and reminding us that everyone needs a place to call home.

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

‘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!’

Nick Ahad

The Boy at The Back of The Class has been adapted for the stage by multi-award-winning journalist, writer and broadcaster Nick Ahad. Nick spoke about the thought-provoking and inspiring new production and why it’s a must-see for audiences both young and old this Spring.

Can you describe the play in three words?

Emotional. Funny. Surprising.

Is this your stage writing debut or have you written plays before?

My first play was actually produced in 2011, another play aimed at young audiences, Nor Any Drop, about how Bangladesh will be at the sharp end of climate change and why that matters to all of us. Produced by Red Ladder theatre company, it toured schools in the North of England. I then spent a couple of years writing on the ITV soap Emmerdale but have always written for theatre. I think The Boy at the Back of the Class is my sixth full play and I’ve written quite a lot of shorter plays too.

And what was it about Onjali Rauf’s book that made you want to adapt it?

Oh, it’s hard to find the words for how much I love Onjali’s book and what she has put into the world by creating it. As someone from a mixed-race background – my dad’s Bangladeshi, my mum’s white English – I’ve always questioned my place in the world, wondered where I belong, who I belong to, where is my place. Onjali’s book is a reminder that I’m not alone in that and, much more importantly, there are good people in the world who will make a place for people to belong. The children in the book, the ones who tell Ahmet, the refugee who is the boy at the back of the class, that he has somewhere to belong, are absolute heroes. So, I wanted to adapt the book to tell that story and lesson to an audience.

Tell us a little about the lead character Ahmet, played by Farshid Rokey?

Ahmet is a contradiction to me: he’s a little boy in a very particular situation who is looking for a home, a place in the world and a family, but he is also a symbol who stands for millions of other children. He could so easily have been Alan Kurdi, that poor little boy whose body washed up on a beach and whose image breaks my heart every time I think of it, but he is also a refugee boy who made it to somewhere safe and is flourishing. He’s also – and I think this is perhaps the most important message – any one of us if we had been born in his situation.

What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see The Boy at The Back of the Class?

If you’re thinking of booking to see the show, why haven’t you booked already! I want people to see the show because I think it’s important and there’s a message that I hope will spread as widely as possible, but to be honest it feels like audiences that have seen the show already might disagree – from the shouts and screams, whoops and cheers that we hear whenever we’re in the theatre, I think they’d tell you to book because it’s a brilliant night out!

Onjali Q. Raúf’s The Boy at The Back of The Class has been adapted for the stage by award-winning writer Nick Ahad (BBC’s Better, Emmerdale, Glory) and is at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Tuesday 7 May to Saturday 11 May with evening and matinee performances.

Age guidance ages 7+. 

Tickets from £18.50 with concessions. Blackpool Grand Theatre 1894 Club ticket offers and school/group rates are available. Please call the Grand Theatre Box Office on 01253 290190 or visit www.BlackpoolGrand.co.uk for full listings, bookings and further information.

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