Award-winning director Danny Boyle will return to the stage tonight, with a one-off charity play starring Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch and actress Gemma Arterton.
Boyle, the talent behind ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, will produce and direct ‘The Children's Monologues’, a series of emotional stories written by 12 children in South Africa, at the Old Vic Theatre in London.
The monologues, which share memories of violence, rape and pain, will be read on stage by a star-studded cast including Cumberbatch, Arterton, Ben Kingsley and Eddie Redmayne.
Children living in rural South Africa were asked to describe "a day that made their soul happy or sad", and the play tells moving stories of life in communities rife with Aids, gangsterism and poverty.
Cumberbatch said the project was an "extraordinary" one to be involved in.
"It's pretty powerful stuff, there's a huge array of emotions involved - some of it winding and stomach-churningly awful.
"I hope to be involved in more of the charity's work in the future, maybe take some time to go to Africa and see how the work translates on the ground."
Arterton said she was excited about the performance, adding that she had one of the "darkest and saddest" monologues of the night.
Taking place in the run-up to World Aids Day on 1 December, ‘The Children's Monologues’ is organised by Dramatic Need, an arts charity whose trustees include Manchester-born Boyle and Sir Antony Sher, the Olivier Award-winning actor.
The charity has helped more than 5,000 African children change their lives through dance, drama, art and music.