Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

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Singing and living the blues: Sharon D Clarke as Ma Rainey (centre) with the Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom company. Photo credit: Johan Persson

Theatre: Lyttelton, National Theatre
Play: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Playwright: August Wilson
Director: Dominic Cooke

Review by Joy Francis

August Wilson’s assured and passionate grasp of the dehumanising and insidious impact of racism and segregation on African Americans is shown keenly in his breakthrough play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

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Jamie Lloyd directs Uzo Aduba and Zawe Ashton in The Maids

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The Jamie Lloyd Company’s first production of 2016 will be the full-throttle UK premiere of a contemporary adaptation of Jean Genet’s powerful psycho-drama, The Maids, with an all-star cast: Uzo Aduba, Zawe Ashton and Laura Carmichael.

In a luxurious bedroom, two maids, played by Aduba and Ashton, fantasise about killing their employer, the Madam played by Carmichael. The pair play out dangerous and sadistic scenarios as they plan her violent death. This translation, by Benedict Andrews and Andrew Upton, was first performed at Sydney Theatre Company and it’s making it’s UK debut.

Uzo Aduba said “It’s work with a fresh edge. Jamie reinvents classic plays in a way that we’ve never seen before or have explored before.” Zawe Ashton added: “Jamie and I are reuniting on this production, having worked together on Headlong’s production of Salome, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve always been so excited by his vision as a director and to not only be collaborating with him but with two exquisite actors like Uzo and Laura on this fresh take on a classic text, is very juicy indeed.”

Date: From 20 February to 21 May 2016. Press previews are available from 25 February 2016 with Gala Night 29 February 2016.

Venue: Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY

Watch the trailer.

For more information and tickets, visit the website.

Photo courtesy of The Jamie Lloyd Company

Audra McDonald makes her West End debut in Lady Day

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Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winner Audra McDonald is to make her long awaited ‪West End‬ debut this summer, portraying legendary jazz singer ‪Billie Holiday‬ in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. This critically acclaimed production will play a limited engagement at the West End’s ‪Wyndham‬’s Theatre from 25 June to 3 September 2016, having broken box office records at the Circle in the Square in New York in a run that netted McDonald her record-setting sixth Tony Award. Written by Lanie Robertson and Directed by Lonny Price, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill recounts Holiday’s life story through the songs that made her famous, including God Bless the Child, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, Strange Fruit and Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.

For tickets click here

Photo credit: Evgenia Eliseeva

BBC Journalism Training Scheme

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This is a golden opportunity for creative and original talent to train and get experience in TV, radio or online with the BBC. People from all backgrounds are encouraged apply. You can also meet the team and find out more at the BBC ‘GET IN’ events here.

Deadline: 8 February 2016
Website: Click here

Escaped Alone

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The quiet apocalypse: Linda Bassett (Mrs Jarrett), Deborah Findlay (Sally), Kika Markham (Lena) & June Watson (Vi). Photo credit: Johan Persson

Theatre: Royal Court
Play: Escaped Alone
Playwright: Caryl Churchill
Director: James Macdonald

Review by Joy Francis

Caryl Churchill has rock star status in theatre, and among actors. Not only does her latest play Escaped Alone officially launch the 60th anniversary of the Royal Court Theatre, but it attracts a loyal – and starry – following. At a glance I spot Nikki Amuka-Bird, Stephen Rea and, unless it’s a convincing lookalike, Stephen Daldry.

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Literature laid bare

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With literary festivals continually failing to feature writers of colour with any consistency or commitment, Media Diversified founder Samantha Asumadu and her team Henna, Samira, Mend and Kelly, created the Bare Lit Festival, backed by a crowding funding campaign. She explains why.

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The Mother

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Book: The Mother
Author: Yvvette Edwards
Publisher: Mantle
Price: Hardback £12.99 and eBook £8.99

Review by Irenosen Okojie

In Yvvette Edwards’ stunning new novel The Mother, we find a couple struggling to cope after the murder of their teenage son. Not only must Marcia and Lloydie attempt to rebuild their lives following Ryan’s tragic death at the hands of a boy his age, but Marcia has to attend the trial of her son’s killer.

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Unhallowed Graves

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Book: Unhallowed Graves
Author: Nuzo Onoh
Publisher: Canaan-Star Publishing
Price: £8.99

Review by Ronke Lawal

In Unhallowed Graves Nuzo Onoh brings together three chilling stories of revenge, each more harrowing than the next. These stories are a graduation of sorts for Onoh, whose tales in her debut The Reluctant Dead were a superb introduction to her unique writing style.

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Interview with Gbolahan Obisesan

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Photo credit Daniella Baynes

Nigerian-born and London-based award-winning playwright and director Gbolahan Obisesan is a Genesis Fellow at the Young Vic. He first made an impact as a playwright with Mad About the Boy, which ran at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011 and won a Fringe First for Best Play. His career path is sprinkled with an interesting range of productions and collaborations with some of theatreland’s leading figures, including being resident director for the National Theatre’s 2009 production of Fela!, associate director to Dominic Cooke for The Way of the World and Greg Doran’s associate director for the RSC on Julius Caesar.

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Alice in cyberland: Carly Bawden (Alice) and Lois Chimimba (Aly). Photo credit Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Theatre: National Theatre
Playwright: Moira Buffini
Director: Rufus Norris

Review by Irenosen Okojie, the new musical created by Blur frontman Damon Albarn, Moira Buffini and the National Theatre’s artistic director Rufus Norris is an ambitious, fresh take on Lewis Carroll’s classic story.

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Superwoman?: Noma Dumezweni (Linda). Photo credit Johan Persson

Theatre: Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court
Play: Linda
Playwright: Penelope Skinner
Director: Michael Longhurst

Review by Ronke Lawal

Can women have it all – the career, the family, the relationship, the money and professional success? This now almost clichéd question on gender equality is a strong theme in Penelope Skinner’s hard-hitting play.

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