Cultural highlights for this month include theatre, podcast and something a bit unusual … auditions.
I’ve been part of the team meeting actors for my new play The Scar Test which will be at Soho Theatre in July. The play explores life for women in detention in the U.K. And although the play has a large number of characters in this first production it will be performed by 5 actors: 4 women and 1 man. So we’ve been meeting actors of different ages and ethnicity, it’s completely open. And I’ve been astonished by not only the quality of the actors we are seeing but the dedication and preparation they’ve put in, many learning lines in advance, all of them reading and having thoughts on the play and doing research themselves. It’s been a properly exciting process. So not a usual cultural highlight but a very real one!
My play experience was Black Lives Black Words at the Bush. Part of the reopening programming of the new building Black Lives Black Words is the brain child of award-winning American playwright Reginald Edmund, who produced the USA premiere at the Greenhouse Theatre in Chicago in July 2015. The Bush Theatre presented its UK Premiere in Oct 2015 produced by Artistic Directors of the Future. This new iteration featured two plays from African-American writers: #Matter (Idris Goodwin), This Bitter Earth (Harrison David Rivers), and four new plays by British writers: Womb (Somalia Seaton),The Principles of Cartography (Winsome Pinnock), My White Best Friend (Rachel De-Lahay) and The Interrogation of Sandra Bland (Mojisola Adebayo). Poet Anthony Anaxagorou also performed his poems If I Told You and Master’s Revenge.
The culmination of the evening was Mojisola Adebayo’s reimagining of The Interrogation of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman who was pulled over by police in Texas for failing to signal, the interrogating officer took against Sandra and arrested her. Three days later her body was found hanging in a police cell. Adebayo has transcribed the original interrogation and presents it here with a cast of seven women of colour playing Sandra. They are joined by more actresses from the community in a chorus as the piece continues. It was a powerful, breath-taking and unforgettable memorial, deftly directed by Omar Elerian.
Black Lives Black Words only had three performances and I do hope it will come back.
Finally a podcast – here was me thinking only BBC Radio could make compelling drama but Gimlet’s Homecoming proved me wrong. Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaacs and David Schwimmer lead the cast in what is billed as a ‘psychological thriller’ about a programme to rehabilitate disturbed war vets. I don’t want to give anything away so I wont say any more except have a listen – it’s free to download – but download all 6 because you will eat them up.