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Boyle set to direct charity play

Award-winning director Danny Boyle is returning to the stage, 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.

"These young people have experienced some of the biggest things people should ever have to deal with on earth - they've suffered a great deal and somehow manage to keep going and creatively express what they've been through.

"It's great to be giving a big voice to small voices that are such a long way away."

He added: "It's to do with humanising the young people, to try and understand what they've been through and tell their stories.

"These very small fragile lives need to be empowered - the stories are like the children passing on their wisdom, which is deep and profound."

© Press Association