Parikiaki’s very own film critic, George Savvides, will star in Thought Virus by Peter Barnett which premieres at London’s Drayton Arms Theatre, (153 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 0LJ) from 26th – 30th September.
Directed by Jason Moore, the play centres on professional dancer Erkin, a young Muslim Uyghur from Zhinjiang Province in China.
After becoming famous as a model in Beijing, he is put in a detention centre for being in possession of some weed. After returning home, he is almost immediately re-arrested and taken to a ‘rehabilitation centre.’
When Covid hits, he is put into isolation and manages to film the prison on a mobile phone and show the world exactly what’s going on.
In the meantime, Erkin’s best friend Yusup turns out to be a spy and his family have their lives turned upside down by a government ‘homestayer’ who moves into their home, eventually driving Erkin’s mother to suicide.
The story follows Erkin’s amazing journey from celebrity model to prisoner, the prejudices he faces and the different people that he meets on that journey.
The play is loosely based on the true story famous dancer and male model Merdan Ghappar.
There are thought to be over 3 million Chinese Uyghur Muslims who have been forced into the so called ‘rehabilitation camps’ in China. The Chinese consider them a terrorist threat and hence are on a mass mission of brainwashing and ‘re-education’ at purpose built detention centres, to make them relinquish their religion and clear their minds from any ‘thought virus.’
Ex-inmates tell of torture, rape and brainwashing, as the Chinese authorities try to steer the Uyghur people away from their culture and their religion.
The play had an initial read through in June 2022 at the Arts Educational School in London and a further Spotlight Cast development read through at The Seven Dials Playhouse in October 2022.
Original music is by Jacob Bride and Mert Degirmendereli.
The cast includes Mert Degirmendereli, Baris Celiloglu, George Savvides, Lena Lapres, Guney Akis, Steve Hanzheng Wu, Terry Burns, Alan Wai, Tao Deng and Feride Morcay.
George Savvides received a BA (Hons) in Drama at Middlesex University before training at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
He combines his film and television work with regular stage appearances which include The Judge in Haram Iran (Above the Stag), the title role in Walaa (New Diorama), St John in the highly acclaimed site specific production of In the Beginning was the End (Dreamthinkspeak at Somerset House), Alfredo in Augusta (New End Theatre, Hampstead), Iskander in Birds Without Wings (Eastern Angles UK Tour), Remzi in The Battle of Green Lanes (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Friar Laurence in Romeo & Juliet (European Tour), Ali in Lockerbie 103 (UK Tour including the Traverse, Edinburgh), Priest in King Oedipus (Nuffield, Southampton), Jaime in The House Of The Spirits (UK Tour & Shaw Theatre), Pablo in A Streetcar Named Desire (Haymarket, Basingstoke) and Adu Deep in The Garden of Habustan (Tricycle).
For BBC Radio 4 he played Giaka in The Lockerbie Trial, Apostolis in Honey From A Weed and Mullah in The Interview.
He has also translated three Aristophanes’ plays: Clouds (Commission), Wealth (Warehouse Theatre, Croydon) and The Frogs (UK Arts Council Tour).

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