We may not always see them on huge billboards in central London but Black Brits have been creating amazing content in the theatre space. Recently, iconic plays like Misty, Barber Shop Chronicles and Nine Nights have come and gone but there’s always a new wave of plays to discover. Autumn and Winter is the perfect time to get cosy in a dark theatre and immerse yourself in black stories. Here is a list of must-see plays from Black British theatre-makers this season.
Theatre: Trafalgar Studios
Runs Until: 12th of October
The Team: Adapted by Gbolahan Obisesan
Cast: David Alade, Valentine Olukoga
“In a small Nigerian town Ben, Obembe and their two older brothers slip away to fish at a forbidden river. Unnoticed and carefree they continue until the prophecy of a madman changes the course of their lives forever.”
Based on the Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel by Chigozie Obioma, The Fishermen has been brought to life on the West End, after a transfer from the Arcola theatre. With four-star reviews from The Guardian and The Stage, and only running for a few more weeks, it’s one to buy tickets for ASAP.
Our Lady of Kibeho
Theatre: Theatre Royal Stratford East
Runs until: 2nd of November
Cast: Michelle Asante ( Stan Lee’s Lucky Man)
Widely celebrated in the theatre world, this play makes a comeback to an east London stage. Marking 25 years since the Rwandan genocide, Our Lady, set in the 80s, is a story of a girl who sees a vision of the Virgin Mary, warning her of the atrocities to come.
It’s another work that has multiple four and five-star reviews. It also has a large black cast, which is a nice change from the usual small-scale Black British theatre with 1-3 people casts.
‘Master Harold’… and the boys
Theatre: The National Theatre
Runs Until: 17th December
The team: Directed by Roy Alexander Weise (Nine Nights, The Mountaintop)
Willie played by Hammed Animashaun (Barbershop Chronicles)
Sam played by Lucian Msmati (Amadeus)
Set in 1950s Apartheid South Africa, the story is about Sam and Willie, two boys who practice for a ballroom dance competition in the tea room of their Master Harris [who to complicate things, considers them his friends].
‘Master Harold’…and the boys, “explores the nature of friendship and the ways people are capable of hurting even those they love.”
We’re excited about this one- it’s a good combo of great talent and a big stage, a good opportunity for an interesting set and staging.
The National Theatre is also hosting a series of talks for people who are interested in the topics related to the play or behind the scenes look into the making of the show. Look out for the one on “The Radical Nature of Black Joy in Theatre’ on the 15th of November.
Run: 10th December- 21st December
The Team: Written by Winsome Pinnock (who The Guardian calls the Godmother of Black British playwrights!)
Cast: Stanley J. Browne, Reece Pantry, Evlyne Oyedoken
“Cyrus drives a Tube train. Sonny jumps in front of it. Desperate to arrive at the truth of what happened, Cyrus is brought to a troubling possibility: that all routes lead back to him.”
The Arcola Theatre, where this will be staged is a great venue. Very small and intimate, it feels like the actors are speaking directly to you. Mental health is a major theme in the story and so that intimacy will add to the emotional impact.
Black British Theatre Awards:
It’s not a play but it’s big news worth mentioning.
The first ever Black British Theatre Awards is launching this Black History month. Finally, we’re getting a platform that celebrates black contributions to British theatre across all aspects of production including acting, directing, design and more. Hit plays including Misty, Hamilton and Nine Nights have all made it to the shortlist and we’re excited to see who secures the first set of awards this year.