Renowned theatre company ThickSkin presents the intensely visual, uplifting and action-packed tale of positivity, hope and adventure How Not to Drown at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Wednesday 15 to Friday 17 March.

This fast-paced physical theatre production shares the inspirational true story of an eleven-year-old unaccompanied asylum-seeker arriving in the UK and is performed by an ensemble cast, starring Dritan Kastrati himself.

In 2002, in the turmoil after the end of the Kosovan War, 11-year-old Dritan was sent on the notoriously perilous journey across the Adriatic with a gang of people smugglers to a new life in Europe. Relying on young wit and charm on his journey to the UK, Dritan’s fight for survival continues when he finds himself caught within the British care system, struggling to cling onto his identity and sense of self.

I don’t know why my Dad let me go, especially when he knew how dangerous, how hard it was… I was too young, too weak to make this journey. I wouldn’t have sent me… He wouldn’t have sent me unless there was a reason.”

How Not to Drown is Dritan's real-life story and is co-written with playwright Nicola McCartney (herself a foster carer) following 60 hours of recorded interviews between the two of them. This vibrant tale of endurance transports audiences from intimate spaces to locations the size of the ocean, journeying with the then 11-year-old Dritan to experience his world. A shape-shifting set and immersive soundtrack of music and indecipherable languages accompany. With an emotional relevance to how the world feels now, this is one boy’s story which hopes to give a voice to those who have been through similar experiences.

ThickSkin theatre company is well-known for searching out and nurturing emerging talent, showcasing unknown artists alongside a high calibre creative team. ThickSkin first met Dritan thirteen years ago through a theatre training programme for young people and stayed in touch - mentoring and supporting him as a performer since then. Through How Not to Drown, ThickSkin and Nicola McCartney have offered Dritan an important platform and facilitated him as a co-writer of his first stage play.

Dritan Kastrati said: “This is my story, but it could be anyone’s. Just for one second imagine there is a war happening in the UK now, which direction would you run for safety? It would be awful. British families fleeing, children separated from their parents. But it’s happening every day across the world. It happened to me. I wanted to share my story, in my own words, as a child coming to the UK alone. It’s a story we don’t usually hear about asylum seekers. It’s not a sad story, parts of it are actually pretty funny, but it is truthful and sometimes painful.”

Director Neil Bettles said: “After the huge success of How Not to Drown at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, it feels timely and important to be sharing Dritan’s story with a wider audience around the UK. It’s a show that we are very proud of and includes all the hallmarks of a ThickSkin show - an urgency in its storytelling about an important social issue of our time, delivered with a fast-paced, cinematic, dynamic quality that we hope will have broad appeal.

“How Not To Drown is about losing identity and place in the world. I think it rings true for all of us that feel a little lost and take extreme actions to find ourselves again. Against the context of current world events, this compelling and uplifting true story feels as important now as ever. And having met Dritan Kastrati shortly after his story in the play ends, it feels right that ThickSkin were the company to help him realise his story on stage.”

This is unmissable theatre at Blackpool Grand…

ThickSkin’s award-winning How Not to Drown starring Dritan Kastrati is at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Wednesday 15 to Friday 17 March with an audio described performance on Thursday 16 March and a post show talk available on Thursday 16 March following the show.

Tickets from £15.50 with concessions/group/school rates available. Age recommendation 14+

Visit or call the box office on 01253 290 190 for bookings and further information.


ThickSkin’s How Not to Drown – Wed 15 Mar to Fri 17 Mar at 7.30pm – Age 14+

Audio Described – Thu 16 Mar at 7.30pm + post show talk

Grand Theatre, 33 Church Street, Blackpool FY1 1HT

Box Office 01253 290 190

Facebook - @blackpoolgrand

Twitter - @Grand_Theatre

Instagram - grandtheatrebpl




  1. Patrick Joseph
    This dynamic theatrical performance left a deep impression on me. From beginning to end, she captured my attention and evoked real emotions. The actors on the stage were easily transferred from one emotional nuance to another, perfectly conveying the mood and meaning of what was happening.
    I have time to attend my favorite performances "" it's cool that there are such assistants for doing homework.

    One of the most important advantages of this production is the magnificent performance by the actors of their roles. Their professionalism, bright performances and genuine passion for the theater penetrated through every frame. I felt their energy and strongly empathized with each character.

    Also of note is the excellent use of stage space and scenery. Each element was thought out to the smallest detail, and this added atmosphere and realism to what was happening. I was surrounded by colorful costumes, impressive sets, and skillfully used lighting that created unique images and scenes.

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