Cast and crew members of The Lion King musical reportedly received racist and homophobic abuse 0n the streets of Dublin following their Bord Gáis Theatre performance on January 28. An Garda Síochána have been notified of the event, and are said to be investigating accordingly.
The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre confirmed the news via social media on the night of January 31, stating: “We are saddened to share that several of the performers and crew of The Lion King […] were recently subjected to racial abuse on their journey home from the theatre.
“It is shocking that something so vile and appalling happened to our colleagues who have brought such joy to thousands of theatregoers since the show opened on 31 December.”
The Lion King has been housed in the Dublin theatre for over a month, and will have its last show on Friday, February 4. Unfortunately, their experience of working in Ireland’s capital, which should have been joyous and welcoming, has now been tainted by this event.
“Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and Disney Theatrical Productions strongly condemn all forms of discrimination. We fully stand with the performers and crew and have put plans in place to support those affected by this incident,” the statement continued.
“Over the last 25 years, The Lion King has been a beacon of optimism and inclusion across the globe. Its very presence and the vision of the world that our audience experiences while watching the show, is in itself an instrument to change hearts and minds.”
— Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (@BGETheatre) January 31, 2022
Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, who plays Simba, posted an Instagram story detailing his feelings surrounding the event.
“A few nights ago members of our company were subjected to racial and homophobic abuse, both verbally and with the threat of violence,” he began.
“It was a huge blow that hit us hard as a company, opening old wounds for many, and reminding us that, while our talent and efforts to entertain are often welcomed by the world, that doesn’t always mean our humanity is recognised.”
The performer continued by defiantly saying: “Our company is an overwhelmingly glorious celebration of Black excellence and diversity in all its forms, and even if a vocal minority refuse to recognise our light, we can’t help but shine anyway.”
Ardern-Sodje concluded his statement with a Black Lives Matter sticker on his story, accompanied by the reminder, “that the night must end, and that the sun will rise”.
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The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and Disney Theatrical Productions confirmed that they have reported the abuse to local authorities, and also committed to making a donation to the Irish Network Against Racism in order to support the organisation’s vital work.
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