The Archers' Michael Lumsden to star in Burmese revolution play
The Archers actor Michael Lumsden will star in a new play to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1988 student uprising against the military dictatorship in Burma.
Eastern Star will tell the true story of relationship between a BBC World Service journalist, played by Lumsden, and a Burmese human rights lawyer, played by The Chinese Detective actor David Yip, and question who writes history, the activist or the journalist.
Yip stars as lawyer U Nay Min, while Lumsden, best known for playing Ambridge vet Alistair Lloyd, portrays BBC journalist Christopher Gunness.
The cast also includes Julie Cheung-Inhin as U Nay Min’s niece and Patrick Pearson as Gunness’s partner Jake Hansard.
After the revolution, Gunness went on to become director of communications with the United Nations in the Middle East while U Nay Min was arrested, imprisoned and tortured.
The play is set around their fraught and painful reunion 25 years after the revolution and examines the responsibility of global news corporations towards their sources, touching on the theme of news manipulation and fake news.
It is written and directed by Guy Slater, who got the idea for the script after hearing Gunness speak at a fundraising event.
Slater said: “Christopher and U Nay Min’s story is a moving and resonant one.
“I am delighted to be bringing it to the stage for the 30th anniversary of the 1988 student uprising. People rarely stop to think about the relationship between a reporter and his/her subject.
“It’s been a challenge and a delight to look at the story from both very complex and painful perspectives.”
Gunness added: “It’s surreal to have started a revolution by mistake without even realising it, but as a cub reporter at the BBC that’s just what I did.
“I never imagined that my reporting would play a part in shaping the fate of a nation and writing the first draft of its history.
“And with the Rohingya crisis deepening, that history is still being written.
“The true hero of this story is U Nay Min, and I am delighted that this story is being brought to the stage on this momentous anniversary.”
Eastern Star will run at London’s Tara Theatre from September 11 to September 29.