Team Behind Idris Elba's Play Accused of Intimidation And Disrespect by Former Writers
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After Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley detailed their ordeal in a blog post, 'Tree' co-writer Kwame Kwei-Armah tweets his empathy but denies allegation that he 'refused to communicate' with them.

AceShowbiz - Two writers who reportedly helped to develop a play with Idris Elba are accusing the team behind the project of dismissing them and taking credit for their ideas.

Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley, who claim they were involved in the initial stages of "Tree", have come forward with allegations they were subjected to "intimidation and disrespect" and later given no credit for their work.

Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah, the artistic director of London's Young Vic theatre, are now credited as the sole writers behind the stage production, which is set to debut during the Manchester International Festival this month.

Allen-Martin and Henley have detailed their alleged ordeal in a blog post, in which they maintain Elba asked them to come up with an idea for a show inspired by his 2014 album "Mi Mandela", write a script and come up with a title, before Kwei-Armah took over the project.

The women claim they were later dismissed and threatened with legal action if they "spoke up".

"There is no way it's a different project, no matter how much it's changed," they wrote. "And the reluctance to take any accountability for the fact that until we fought it, the majority of the revised synopsis was our work, just without our names on it, is at best, sad and at worst, disgusting."

They also claim award-winning playwright Kwei-Armah "refused to engage" with them, and now call the whole experience "devastating proof of the way doors are shut on women, and on the underdogs."

"We became completely disposable because we're not famous or important enough," they write. "We were expected to shut up, lie down, and take it."

In response to the statement, Kwei-Armah has taken to Twitter to express his empathy for "the pain of being released from a project", but he maintains, "I never refused to communicate with you."

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Kwei-Armah took to Twitter to respond to the allegation.

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Kwei-Armah wrote a lengthy statement in response to the allegation.

"To almost single me out as the reason your script was not produced is neither fair nor correct," he adds.

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Kwei-Armah denied the accusation.

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Kwei-Armah expressed sympathy towards the writers.

Representatives for the Manchester Film Festival, Elba's production company Green Door and the Young Vic, are standing behind Elba and Kwei-Armah.

MIF artistic director John McGrath says, "His (Kwei-Armah) script for 'Tree' is entirely his creation and is, in my opinion, a resonant and exciting response to the themes of Idris' 'Mi Mandela' album."

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