Opening The Bunker’s Autumn Season the curated festival This is Black will premiere theatre productions by four new and exciting Black writers across an alternating double-bill. Exploring identity, family relationships and universal struggles, the festival will showcase All the Shit I Can’t Say to My Dad by Abraham Adeyemi and Blue Beneath My Skin by Macadie Amoroso with PYNEAPPLE by Chantelle Alle and Melissa Saint and Teleportation by Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo.
The festival will also feature a visual art exhibition curated by Sophia Tassew, an art director and creative who has curated a number of sell-out exhibitions with brands such as ASOS and Converse. The exhibit will run every Sunday, highlighting the work of artists Amaal Mohamed, Sharon Adebisi and Taja Boodie in response to the stimulus, ‘What does it mean to be Black in the UK? Past, present and future’.
Abraham Adeyemi’s All the Shit I Can’t Say to My Dad is a musical exploration of unresolved conflicts within a strained parent relationship, from differences of faith to absent fatherhood. Through music the relationships are analysed and unspoken truths surface. Director Jade Lewis (Superhoe, Royal Court and Brighton Festival, Assistant Director for Nine Night, National Theatre and Trafalgar Studios) will bring the production to life, with casting still to be announced.
Macadie Amoroso will both write and star in her one-woman debut, Blue Beneath my Skin, directed by established actor Janet Etuk (TAO of Glass, Royal Exchange Theatre; Love, National Theatre, Birmingham Rep and UK Tour). Using her own experiences and poetic prose to capture the mixed-race experience of identity and knowing your heritage, Macadie explores the universal struggles of humanity – we can all feel blue regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity.
A debut from the SPYCE collective, PYNEAPPLE by writers Chantelle Alle and Melissa Saint, is a vibrant and humorous new play grappling with the stereotypes surrounding young black women. Set in a London hair salon, shampoo and social conditioning get the theatre treatment as a group of women come together with difference voices but same shared experiences. Directed by Abigail Sewell (The Lost Ones, Ovalhouse; Assistant Director for Pah-La, Royal Court Theatre; Things of Dry Hours, Young Vic) the cast includes co-writer Melissa Saint, as well as Amba Rose Mendy, Elise Palmer, and Odera Ndujiuba.
Differing cultures collide in the debut play Teleportation by actress Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo (Doctor Who, BBC; The Mountaintop, Young Vic) when a carer meets her new disabled companion, exploring how two polar-opposites can share a single spirit, question their prejudices and discover themselves through one another. This will be directed by festival curator, Steven Kavuma (BOYS, Dalston Eastern Curve Garden; Assistant Director for Still No Idea, Royal Court Theatre), starring actress Antonia Layiwola.
This is Black curator Steven Kavuma commented: “As a writer and director, I have always wanted to go and showcase my work at the Edinburgh Fringe but have felt mindful of participating as I am aware of the mental and physical baggage it involves to be a Black artist presenting work in Edinburgh and other fringe theatre spaces which are often occupied by white people. I have heard stories from friends about their experiences from racial profiling, racist comments and white audiences unwilling to take flyers for their shows.
It feels as though there is only space, time, money and resources for a particular kind of person in this industry, who is always given the license to make “edgy”, “radical” and “experimental” work. When we do make work and take ownership of spaces, it is often branded by some critics as “aggressive”, “too loud”, “too violent” and “not challenging enough”. As an artist, this annoys me but as a Black person making work, it displaces me in this industry and in this country.”
Kavuma added: “I believe that Blackness is not one dimensional; it is layered, complex, beautiful, ugly, angry, loud, and everything more that is unsaid and with all the plays in this festival, we aim to offer audiences a varied depiction of Black stories. With the DJ sets and exhibition, I hope this will begin to deconstruct how none or not regular theatregoers interact and engage with theatre.”
This is Black aims to support, encourage and celebrate Black artists, and to create a supportive fringe festival experience that existing platforms do not always successfully provide. Friday and Saturday nights will also include a DJ set until late from Ashleigh Simone who has DJed events such as Sony Music Entertainment’s International Women’s Day Event, Boxpark Croydon Ree-Up Presents and Syco’s Annual Summer Party at the V&A museum.
This is Black festival will run at The Bunker from Monday 5th – Sunday 25th August 2019.