Moment of Grace, a new drama inspired by the monumental action taken by Princess Diana when she visited a London AIDS ward in the 1980s, will be streamed by The Actors Centre later this month. The production premieres on 31 July and will be available to watch until 9 August.
Bren Gosling’s play was originally due to run at the Tristan Bates Theatre in June and July. When COVID-19 closed the theatres, Gosling was so determined to bring an important story to a wider audience that, together with director Nicky Allpress and producer Paul Coleman, he worked to film the production.The result is a unique theatre/film hybrid production of new play writing made within the restrictions of lockdown. It is a tale about one pandemic, created as the world struggled to come to grips with a new one.
Moment of Grace is set in 1987. Princess Diana’s landmark visit to a London AIDS ward has sparked world-wide interest, with camera crews and a televised interview. But AIDS remains taboo. Even being seen to work on this ward could cost you everything. To change public misconceptions, would you have risked it?
Told through the eyes of Jude, a nurse on the ward, Andrew, a patient, and Donnie, a fireman estranged from his son, this ground-breaking new play Moment of Grace tells how the Princess’s visit brought critical attention to AIDS awareness through empathy and acts of kindness. At a time when we are wary of coming in contact with each other, it is the story of the power of a handshake.
Speaking about streaming Moment of Grace, Writer and Executive Producer, Bren Gosling said:
“This story is key part of our recent queer and collective history, which is in danger of being forgotten. In the midst of our current, challenging pandemic times, Moment of Grace reminds us of how acts of kindness can effect a sea change in attitudes towards the marginalised, stigmatised and oppressed; it gives us hope.”
A stage version of Moment of Grace premiered to sold out audiences at Bloomsbury Festival in in 2018 and played a special performance at St Anne’s Church, Soho, on World AIDS Day the same year. The play won the 2020 No: Intermission International One Act Play Festival and was due to air in the NO: Intermission Festival in Sydney Australia this month. That run was also cancelled due to Covid.
Lucy Walker Evans, Luke Dayhill and Andrew Paul star in the production, which was filmed during lockdown using a sanitised smartphone camera and basic kit couriered between performers.
Walker Evans reunites with director Allpress, who she previously worked with on the 2019 staging of Market Boy at the Union Theatre. Her other credits include Conquest (Bunker Theatre and The Vaults), ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Tristan Bates Theatre) and Punk Rock (Pocketful Productions).
Oxford School of Drama graduate Dayhill boasts credits including Small (Soho Theatre), Three Sisters (North Wall Arts Centre) and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Chapel Street and Osama The Hero (all Hats Off Studios).
Paul is best known as The Bill’s PC Dave Quinnan, a role he played in the long-running ITV drama for 13 years. He also played Maxwell Moon in EastEnders, appeared as a regular in Where The Heart Is and had roles in cult hit films Scum and Bugsy Malone.
Gosling and Allpress have been supported by the National HIV Story Trust in turning their vision of a stage show into a film, with a grant from The SE Franklin Trust. The National HIV Story Trust is a UK charity, which aims to preserve and tell the story of those affected by the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.
The National HIV Story Trust said:
“The National HIV Story Trust is recording and preserving stories told by people who have been touched by HIV/AIDS since the1980s. We seek also to re-imagine those experiences through the arts and are proud to associate with this dynamic production of Bren Gosling’s new play Moment of Grace.”
When Moment of Grace premieres on at 7.30 pm on 31 July, it will be followed by an exclusive Q&A featuring Gosling, Allpress and Coleman along with special guests Dr Robert Miller, consultant Physician at CNWL, UCLH and Royal Free Hospital , who witnessed Diana’s 1987 visit, and Leigh Chislett, who has worked as a nurse in HIV care for thirty years and now manages Europe’s largest HIV and Sexual Health Centre – 56 Dean Street.