The European premiere of Claudia Rankine’s first published play, The White Card opens at Northern Stage, Newcastle on 29 April before touring to HOME in Manchester, Leeds Playhouse, Birmingham Rep, and Soho Theatre, London. The cast announced today is Nick Blakeley, C J Coleman, Kate Copeland, Estelle Daniels, and Matthew Pidgeon. The production will be directed by Northern Stage’s Artistic Director, Natalie Ibu.
Critically acclaimed on its debut in Boston in 2018, The White Card poses the question: can society progress when whiteness remains invisible? Written during an increasingly racially divided America and before the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests rippled across the globe, a wealthy, privileged white couple invite a talented Black artist to dinner. Tensions run high and a heated debate uncovers some uncomfortable truths that can’t be ignored about white privilege, cultural appropriation, and representation.
Claudia Rankine is the author of six collections of poetry, including Just Us: An American Conversation, Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; three plays including HELP, which premiered in March of 2020 at The Shed, NYC, The White Card, which premiered in February 2018 (ArtsEmerson/ American Repertory Theater) and was published by Graywolf Press in 2019, and Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; as well as numerous video collaborations. She is also the co-editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind (FENCE, 2015). In 2016, she co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII). Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. Rankine teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
Natalie Ibu is Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Northern Stage. Previously Artistic Director of tiata fahodzi (Dec 2014- 2020), the only Black-led theatre company in the UK with a sole focus on new work, during her time there Natalie increased the company’s activity levels including seven productions in five years, revived tiata delights in a reimagined format as a talent development festival at Watford Palace Theatre, presented work during the summer festivals, brokered the company’s first international collaboration and opened up talent and career development pathways for African heritage individuals. For her Northern Stage debut, she directed Jim Cartwright’s Road. For tiata fahodzi, Natalie’s director credits include i know all the secrets in my world which played 12 venues in spring 2016, and Arinzé Kene’s good dog which toured in spring 2017 and again in 2019 for a large eight-week midscale tour. Previously she was the Creative Producer for In Good Company, launching the regional artist development programme in the East Midlands for Derby Theatre, Embrace Arts Leicester, and Create Mansfield. Previous roles include Programme Manager at the Roundhouse, Creative Producer for Only Connect, Associate Director (Warehouse) for HighTide Festival Productions.
Natalie said ‘I’m immensely excited to be introducing this important play by a writer as inspirational as Claudia Rankin to the UK. We want people to be an ally, be in the room, be in the conversation, and ‘The White Card’ invites us all to take part in the debate.’
Nick Blakeley plays Eric. Nick is originally from the North-East and trained at Bristol University and The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He is an associate artist with Encounter and has recently been developing his own work during residencies with Camden People’s Theatre and artsdepot. Nick’s theatre credits include The Claim (Shoreditch Town Hall); Twelfth Night (Orange Tree Theatre); I Heart Catherine Pistachio (Soho Theatre / Yard Theatre); Brideshead Revisited (York Theatre Royal / UK Tour); Hapgood (Hampstead Theatre); Comment Is Free (Old Vic Theatre); The Last of the De Mullins (Jermyn St Theatre); Hard Feelings (Finborough Theatre); The Sunshine Boys (Savoy Theatre); 13, A Woman Killed With Kindness (National Theatre); and 24 Hour Plays (The Old Vic).
Television credits include Belgravia (ITV); Summer of Rockets (BBC); Theresa Vs Boris: How May Became PM (BBC); Beyond Reasonable Doubt (CNN); Doctors (BBC); and The Old Bailey (BBC). On film, Nick has appeared in Northern Comfort (Netop Films); Goodbye Christopher Robin (Fox Searchlight), and Eyes and Prize (Independent Film).
C J Coleman plays Alex. CJ has just graduated from Arts Ed and The White Card will be his debut role. Whilst training he received the Sir John Gielgud Award, and he reached the BBC Carleton Hobbs 2021 finals receiving a best duologue commendation.
Kate Copeland plays Virginia. She trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her theatre appearance include Miss Bates in Emma (UK Tour), Emily in The First Man (Jermyn Street Theatre), David Copperfield, A Winter’s Tale, Julius Caesar, The Bay At Nice, Sleeping Beauty and the title roles in Nora (A Doll’s House) and Miss Julie all for the Mercury Theatre, Colchester; Nancy in Alarms And Excursions (Chipping Norton), Mrs Robinson in In Extremis (The Bridewell and Brighton Festival), Dilys in The Queen’s Knickers (Southbank Centre), Margie in Lilies on the Land (Fresh Glory UK Tour), Mrs Macbeth in The Judgement of Macbeth and White Queen in Alice Through The Looking Glass (both for Theatre Royal, Bath); Peter Pan, Cinderella (both for Duke’s Theatre, Lancaster); Sold (Theatre 503); Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest (GH Productions); Celia in As You Like It (Oxford Stage Company/Creation Theatre); The Twelve Pound Look and The Browning Version (Jill Freud and Co.); Shaw Cornered (Yvonne Arnaud and tour); Hedda Gabler (Acting With Insight); Secrets (Polka Theatre/Watershed UK Tour); The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Royal Shakespeare Company). Television appearances include Call the Midwife (Series 4-6), Casualty, The 4 O’Clock Club, Doctors, The Dumping Ground, Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, Man Like Mobeen, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Pennyworth, Impact, Trying and Danny Boyle’s forthcoming Pistol. Film includes Golden Years (Moli Films), The Ghost; Pride and Prejudice (Working Title), The First Man (SOFF Productions), Sanitarium (Cat’n’Cage Pictures), Waving in Trains (Made Up North Productions). Her radio and audio appearances include The Rose and the Ring and The Dreaming Woman (both for BBC Radio 4), ATA Girl, and ATA Girl 2 (Big Finish) which was a finalist in the US Audio Awards.
Estella Daniels who plays Charlotte, was nominated by YOU magazine as a 2022 rising screen star. She recently appeared in the BBC1/AMAZON hit Chloe and will feature in a recurring role for the ITV mini-series Litvinenko, produced and directed by Jim Field Smith. Some of her early work includes Sinbad (SKY 1) and the BBC’s hit show Death in Paradise. Other screen credits include Ashes to Ashes (BBC) Thorne (SKY 1) and Da Vinci’s Demons (BBC) by David S. Goyer. Her theatre credits include Racing Demon (Crucible Theatre) and Here’s What She Said To Me (Utopia Theatre/ Crucible Theatre) and debbie tucker green’s BAFTA-winning Random. She headed the cast in Oladipo Abaluoage’s Iya Ile (The first wife) (Soho Theatre/ Tiata Fahodzi) which was nominated for an Olivier Award, and Treasure Island (Theatre Royal Haymarket). She has been a favourite at Edinburgh Festival, receiving rave reviews for her performance in Alice Birch’s Little on the Inside, and appeared at the Arcola Theatre in Hoard and Octagon.
Matthew Pidgeon plays Charles His theatre appearances include The Mirror and the Light (RSC/Gielgud Theatre), Bitter Wheat (Garrick Theatre, West End), Local Hero (Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), This House (Chichester/The Garrick/UK Tour), Salome (RSC), The James Plays (National Theatre of Scotland/UK and World Tour), Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies (RSC/Aldwych Theatre/Broadway), Edward II, This House (National Theatre), Midsummer (Traverse Theatre/World Tour), Much Ado About Nothing, The Mysteries (Shakespeare’s Globe), Kyoto (Traverse Theatre) The Wonderful World of Dissocia, Realism, Caledonia (National Theatre of Scotland) The Lying Kind (The Royal Court), The Cherry Orchard, The Wizard of Oz, Vanity Fair, Pinocchio, The Glass Menagerie (Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh). Television credits include Life After Life, Crime, Taggart, Casualty, and Holby City. His film appearances include Mary Queen of Scots, Daphne, The Winslow Boy, State and Main, A Shot at Glory. On radio, he has appeared in ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Midsummer, Devastated Areas, Kaffir Lillies, The Black Sheep, Mary Stuart, The Cloths of Heaven, and Kyoto.
Following performances at Northern Stage, The White Card tours to
HOME, Manchester: 18 May – 21 May
Leeds Playhouse: 24 May – 4 June
Birmingham Rep: 8 June – 18 June
Soho Theatre, London: 21 June – 16 July