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The Lion King cast ‘racially and homophobically abused’ after Dublin performance

"This isn't the first time many of us have experienced something like this" says actor Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, who plays Simba.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Instagram/@stephenson_ltd

The cast of a touring production of the hit musical, The Lion King, has been racially and homophobically abused while performing in Dublin.

On Friday (28 January) at around 11pm some of the cast were making their way home on Hanover Street East after a performance at the nearby Bord Gais Energy Theatre when they encountered a group of young men who verbally abused members of the cast.

Speaking on social media following the incident, one of the actors – Stephenson Ardern-Sodje – said the group was also threatened with violence. 

“The night must end and that the sun will rise”

In his Instagram story, Sodje wrote that the incident was a “huge blow” that opened old wounds for many. He continued by saying that it reminded the cast that “while our talent and efforts to entertain are often welcomed by the world, that doesn’t necessarily mean our humanity is recognized.”

But he refused to let the incident put too much of a downer on things. He added: “This isn’t the first time many of us have experienced something like this, and it’s unlikely to be the last, but in these darker moments it’s good to be reminded… ‘that the night must end and that the sun will rise.’

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Stephenson Ardern-Sodje (@stephenson_ltd)

Screenshots of the posts were shared by Sky News’ Stephen Murphy. 

Rushand Chambers, another actor described the incident as “upsetting”, adding, “all the work, time and energy we’ve given to then be subjected to behaviour like this.”

The Bord Gais Energy Theatre condemned the abuse in a statement where it said, “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.”

It continued: “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 Siochana.”

The theatre added that it and Disney Theatrical Productions are donating to the Irish Network Against Racism. 

The Irish police, the Gardaí, confirmed to Attitude they are investigating reports of a public order incident. No arrests have been made and enquires are ongoing.

Anyone with information can contact Pearse Street Garda Station 01 6669000 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.

The Attitude February issue is out now. Get your copy here