A modern take on Jack and the Beanstalk: Left – Omar Ibrahim (Jack) and Michael Cahill (The Dame), and right – Gloria Onitiri (Grimm) and Paige Round (Grenthel). Photo credit: Ben Broomfield
Panto: Jack and the Beanstalk
Theatre: Park Theatre
Playwrights: Jez Bond and Mark Cameron
Director: Jez Bond
Review by Esha Chaman
Fee Fi Fo Fum. The bellowing voice of a legendary giant is booming through Park Theatre in a quirky musical adaptation of Jack in the Beanstalk. A bizarre mishmash of Shakespeare, singing mariachi shepherds and Tupperware (I kid you not), this production will leave you in stitches this festive season.
Award winning novelist Yvvette Edwards doesn’t fit the stereotype of a traditional writer. With a varied career covering housing and benefits, the Barnet-born, Hackney-based writer only started to take her career seriously at 40 years old. Her first book, A Cupboard Full of Coats – the story of Jinx whose mother was stabbed to death in their East London home, made a big literary impact and was longlisted for the Man Book Prize. It went on to garner numerous other nominations, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Writers’ Guild Awards, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and Waverton Good Read, and won the Kirkus Best Book of the Year Award.
Words of Colour Productions executive director Joy Francis explains why she felt it was time to challenge the underwhelming image of Black British love relationships by forming a partnership with former publisher and director of Write on Track Patsy Antoine-Isles to launch an innovative new online project.
There ain’t nothing like a panto Dame: Clive Rowe as Mother Goose. Photo credit: Robert Workman
Panto: Mother Goose
Theatre: Hackney Empire
Playwright: Susie McKenna
Director: Susie McKenna
Review by Joy Francis
Panto season has launched with an almighty bang in Hackney with the return of Mother Goose, Susie McKenna’s acclaimed camp-fest, played by the biggest panto dame in town – Clive Rowe.
Talawa Theatre Company will be touring its hugely successful production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, starring Ray Shell and Dona Croll. Talawa’s artistic director Michael Buffong will direct the classic tale set in 1947, about Joe and Kate Keller, an all American couple living with the ghosts of WWII. A self made businessman, Joe is a partner in a machine shop building fighter planes parts. Joe and Kate’s happiness is clouded by their son missing in action, presumed dead by all except his mother. The production will set out on a UK tour in February 2015 to commemorate 100 years since Miller’s birth.
Photo credit: Don Warrington as Joe Keller and Dona Croll as Kate Keller in All My Sons by Arthur Miller. Photo by Jonathan Keenan
The winners of the Search for a verse competition, a collaboration between Words of Colour Productions and Color blind Cards, were presented with their winning verses in specially designed cards at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London.
Natalie Ibu has been appointed the new artistic director of Tiata Fahodzi, replacing Lucian Msamati. Ibu, who takes up the role in December 2014, joins the company as it starts its residency at Watford Palace Theatre, giving it a creative home for the first time in its 17 year history.
Hackney Empire’s award-winning Mother Goose, starring Clive Rowe, returns to Hackney Empire with an all star cast. Acclaimed director Susie McKenna plays evil sorceress Vanity alongside Sharon D Clarke’s good enchantress Charity and Kat B as Billy Goose.
Book: Fashion Africa: A visual overview of contemporary African fashion (2nd edition)
Author: Jacqueline Shaw
Publisher: Jacaranda Books
Review by Joy Francis
Back in 2011, fashion designer and budding eco-entrepreneur Jacqueline Shaw self published the encyclopedic Fashion Africa: A visual overview of contemporary African fashion.
Fast forward three years and the leading blogger on African fashion has relocated to Germany as a lead designer, landed a publisher and the tome has been updated and revamped with new foreword by Chris Spring, curator of African Collections at the British Museum.
Marcus Gardley is a talented African American playwright and poet who is proving difficult to ignore. A few years into his career and he has garnered a number of prestigious awards, including the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award for Mid-Career Playwright, the Helen Merrill Award, a Kesselring Honor, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Scholarship and the ASCAP Cole Porter Award.
Creative differences: Rita Balogun (Innoncence), Rebecca Omogbehin (Chinedu) and Stephanie Levi-John (Esomo). Photo credit: Matt Hargraves
Play: How Nigeria Became: A story, and a spear that didn’t work
Theatre: Unicorn Theatre
Playwright: Gbolahan Obisesan
Director: Gbolahan Obisesan
Review by Joy Francis
Director and playwright Gbolahan Obisesan’s ability to imaginatively combine history, humour and Yoruba folklore has resulted in an uneven but engaging play about the creation of Nigeria 100 years ago.