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02nd Feb 2022

Lion King stars open up on racist and homophobic abuse they received in Dublin

Sarah McKenna Barry

“It’s just upsetting, all the work, time and energy we’ve given, to then be subjected to behaviour like this.”

Two cast members of Disney’s The Lion King, which is currently on stage in Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre have discussed the abuse that was levelled at them outside of the theatre over the weekend.

Earlier this week, the theatre and Disney Theatrical Productions issued a statement condemning the racial abuse.

It read: “We are saddened to share that several of the performers and crew of The Lion King, currently performing at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin, 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.”

They added: “We fully stand with the performers and crew and have put plans in place to support those affected by this incident. We also urge that those responsible be held accountable and have reported this incident to An Garda Síochána.”

Now, some of the performers have taken to social media to share their experience of the abuse.

Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, who plays Simba in the show, said: “A few nights ago, members of our company were subjected to racial and homophobic abuse, both verbally and with the threat of violence, while on the way home after the show in Dublin. It was a huge blow that hit us hard as a company, opening old wounds for many.”

Meanwhile, Rushand Chambers, who is an ensemble member, said: “It’s just upsetting, all the work, time and energy we’ve given, to then be subjected to behaviour like this. The marathon continues!

“Dublin has been a good experience as well. I want to make that clear. The theatre and the audience are beautiful. But we can’t ignore the ugly side too. The country needs healing.”