Idris Elba has responded after two writers on his play “Tree” claimed they were pushed out of the production.
Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley accused Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah of not giving them credit despite claims they worked on the project for four years.
However, Elba insisted: “As new ambitions started to be proposed as the jumping off point for development, Tori and Sarah decided they didn’t want to pursue [them] and declined to work any further on the project. This is not uncommon in the creative process.
“We wanted to offer an opportunity to support these new writers while creating a piece of work of scale and to a director’s vision.
“The outcome is an accusation of plagiarism and discrimination. However frustrating this has been for all, we will continue to offer opportunities and to support the next generation of writers and talent.”
“Tree” is making its debut at the Manchester International Festival and will run until July 13.
Elba’s comments come after Allen-Martin and Henley released a lengthy blog post about the matter.
They claim Kwei-Armah, who also released a statement on Twitter, took over the project, and they were later dismissed and “threatened… with legal action if we spoke up.”
They also say they realized that “moving the original writers off a project isn’t unusual and can be done professionally and amicably. However, the levels of intimidation and disrespect we faced were totally unacceptable, soul-destroying and as we’ve since heard — not uncommon for up-and-coming theatre writers, particularly female ones.”
“We became completely disposable because we’re not famous or important enough. We were expected to shut up, lie down, and take it.”