A new verbatim drama about the 2003 siege of Fallujah in Iraq, starring Harriet Walter, premieres at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane on 3 May (previews from 1 May) for a run to 2 June 2007.

Writer Jonathan Holmes, composer Nitin Sawhney and artist Lucy Orta have collaborated to create the piece, named Fallujah, which merges accounts of what happened during the siege with art instillations and music.

The siege of Fallujah constitutes one of the most extensive human rights violations of recent times. Breaching over 70 articles of the Geneva conventions, US forces bombed schools and hospitals, sniped civilians (including children) holding white flags, cut off water and medical supplies, and instigated a chemical weapons assault. At the time, journalists from all nations were actively prevented from entering the city, and even now the full truth of these events has never been made public.

The promenade piece draws on research and interviews carried out by Holmes and triple Nobel Prize nominee Dr Scilla Elworthy. Alongside dramatic reconstructions of news reports and official US government statements, the play incorporates testimony from those at the heart of the siege: Iraqi civilians, clerics, US military and politicians, journalists, medics and aid workers and the British Army.

Walter plays Sasha, the reporter, in the production. Her many theatre credits include, most recently, Antony and Cleopatra for the RSC and Mary Stuart at the Donmar and in the West End. She has also starred in Dinner, Deep Blue Sea, Much Ado About Nothing, The Royal Family, Life x 3 and US and Them. On screen, she's been seen in Onegin, Sense and Sensibility, The Governess, Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Hard Times.

Holmes said in a statement: “The people I met needed a platform to tell their stories; it seemed to me that theatre could not only give this to them but also change the perceptions of those who came to hear them.”

Fallujah is presented in association with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and Ilium Productions. Ekow Eshun, artistic director of ICA, commented: “Fallujah is a timely and important play that blends art, performance and music to give expression to voices that, until now, have gone unheard. The artistic world has been slow to fully explore the ramifications of the Iraq war and I hope this powerful and moving production will illustrate the power that art has to address the urgent issues of our time. The ICA is proud to support such an exciting project.”

No further casting has yet been confirmed.

- by Caroline Ansdell