Hackney’s Elliot Warren wins Olivier Award for debut play Flesh and Bone

PUBLISHED: 17:33 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:33 11 April 2019

The cast of Flesh and Bone at the Olivier Awards. Elliot, second left, and Olivia, centre. Picture: Pamela Raith

The cast of Flesh and Bone at the Olivier Awards. Elliot, second left, and Olivia, centre. Picture: Pamela Raith

Pamela Raith

Two years ago Elliot Warren was performing his debut play in front of two or three people a night. Now he’s won an Olivier Award for it.

Elliot Warren won an Olivier Award for his debut play Flesh and Bone.Elliot Warren won an Olivier Award for his debut play Flesh and Bone.

It’s been a meteoric rise to the top for Flesh and Bone, which is about a family living in an East End tower block up for demolition and features a mix of rap, grime, Tarantino-esque dialogue and Shakespearean language.

It was written out of frustration in 2016 when Elliot and his girlfriend Olivia Brady, both drama school graduates, were finding it hard to get work.

Elliot, 27, has lived all over east London, and his family have lived in Hackney for decades.

He and Olivia directed the play together and both star in it, along with three others. It’s fair to say it’s been a long old journey, from the play’s inception to rubbing shoulders with Ian McKellen and Gillian Anderson at the star-studded awards bash at the Royal Albert Hall last week.

Elliot in the production. Picture: SuppliedElliot in the production. Picture: Supplied

“It basically came out of the frustration between me and my partner,” said Elliot, who lives in Newington Green. “We weren’t getting any work and I said I’d always wanted to write a play so I did, I had to beg steal and borrow to do it and we got it on at The Etcetera Theatre in Camden. It was a great little room but sometimes we were doing it for two or three people.”

Someone then suggested they apply for The Charlie Hartill Special Reserve fund at The Pleasance Theatre in the Cally, which they were awarded to help fund a run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017.

After winning an Edinburgh First award in the first week, the show was a sell-out for the rest of the run, and last year it had a run at the Soho Theatre, to great reviews. Then a month ago Elliot got a call from the Olivier Awards.

“They said we were being considered. I was like: ‘What?!’.”

The cast attended the bash feeling quietly confident, having already seen off 95 plays to get through to the final five in the Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre category. That was until they saw the guests.

“When we got there and saw Ian McKellen was there and Judi Dench was knocking about, you don’t really think you’ve got a chance. I just had my thank yous prepared and wanted to say something about being a work class artist. When they read out Flesh and Bone it was probably the best moment of my life.”

Unsurprisingly, the play is now being optioned for TV.

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