Interview with Marcus Gardley

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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.

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How Nigeria Became: A story, and a spear that didn’t work

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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.

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The Scottsboro Boys transfers to the West End

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The Scottsboro Boys, Kander and Ebb’s (Cabaret, Chicago) award-winning and final musical, has transferred to London’s West End for a strictly limited season following its highly acclaimed and sold-out season at the Young Vic. The recipient of the prestigious Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, the critically acclaimed production is directed and choreographed by five-time TONY Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers and Bullets Over Broadway).The show has been nominated for 12 Tony Awards and six Olivier Awards, in addition to winning the Critics’ Circle Best Musical of 2013.

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The House That Will Not Stand

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Women on the edge: Michele Austin (La Veuve), Ronke Adekoluejo (Odette), Danusia Samal (Maude Lynn), Ayesha Antoine (Agnes) and Martina Laird (Beartrice). Photo credit: Mark Douet

Play: The House That Will Not Stand
Theatre: Tricycle Theatre
Playwright: Marcus Gardley
Director: Indhu Rubasingham

Review by Joy Francis

Set in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1836, The House That Will Not Stand by the African American playwright Marcus Gardley is tightly stitched with intrigue, mysticism, melodrama and racial politics.
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Warde Street

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Broken friendship: Omar Ibrahim (Ashfaq) and Shane Noone (Eddie) Photo credit: Chris Gardner for Rare Moustache

Play: Warde Street
Theatre: Park Theatre
Playwright: Damien Tracey
Director: Jenny Eastop

Review by Joy Francis

With newspaper headlines gripped by the international threat posed by ISIS, the Jihadist militant group in Iraq and Syria, Warde Street’s focus on the personal impact of 7/7 is both timely and uncomfortable.

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Interview with Bola Agbaje

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Words of Colour Productions has profiled the talented playwright Bola Agbaje‘s career since she won a well deserved Laurence Olivier Award for her debut play Gone Too Far! at the Royal Court Theatre in 2007. Numerous plays (such as Off the Endz, BELONG, Women, Power and Politics) and many awards later, Agbaje has turned her attention to film by putting Gone Too Far! on the big screen as a comedy. The film centres on the relationship between two estranged brothers (Londoner Yemi and Nigerian Iku) who are reconnected by their mother in Peckham. Their exploits and cultural differences as they struggle to bond are explored over one hilarious day.

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Jean Binta Breeze supports Time to Change campaign

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Internationally acclaimed spoken word artist and poet Jean Binta Breeze is supporting a new social marketing mental health campaign targeting people from African and Caribbean communities. From 10 October to 23 November 2014, Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health anti stigma campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, will use the campaign to exploring the theme ‘forget the label…just listen’. Binta Breeze has been appointed as a Time to Change media champion through the support of cultural organisation renaissance one.

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Interview with Walter Mosley

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Walter Mosley is one of the world’s most admired writers, and certainly one of the most respected African American scribes. Of mixed race heritage – a Jewish mother and African American father – this only child was surrounded by storytelling while growing up (from his Russian relatives on his mother’s side to tales of the Deep South on his father’s).

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The complexity of race and identity: Steve John Shepherd as the troubled Paul Ryman. Photo credit: Richard Davenport

Play: Albion
Theatre: Bush Theatre
Playwright: Chris Thompson
Director: Ria Parry

Review by Natalie Gormally

Chris Thompson’s explosive new play examines the turbulent rise of the new far-right in modern day Britain.

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SI Leeds Literary Prize events

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A national, biennial award for black and Asian women writers in the UK, founded in 2012, the SI Leeds Literary Prize is hosting two events. First the SI Leeds Literary Prize readings sees award winning writer, broadcaster and journalist Dreda Say Mitchell (pictured, left) introduce the SI Leeds Literary Prize shortlisted writers at Rich Mix in London. The second event is the SI Leeds Literary prize celebration, featuring A Little Dust on the Eyes by Minoli Salgado which won the inaugural SI Leeds Literary Prize. Acclaimed author and literary critic Bernardine Evaristo (pictured, right) will introduce this debut novel. This pre-award announcement celebration features discussion and performances, including readings from the 2014 SI Leeds Literary Prize shortlist. It includes the opportunity to meet Minoli and buy her book. There will also be a drinks reception on the Level 5 Balcony Bar after the event.

SI Leeds Literary Prize readings

Date: Monday 22 September 2014
Venue : Main Space, Rich Mix 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA
Time: 7.30pm
Price: Free, but booking required.
Bookings: To book, click here

SI Leeds Literary Prize celebration

Date: Wednesday 8 October 2014
Venue : Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall, the Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
Time: 7pm
Price: Free, but booking required.
Bookings: To book, click here

Is English we speaking?

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Is English We Speaking: A Reading by Jamaica’s Poet Laureate Mervyn Morris (pictured) with special guests John Hegley and Mimi Khalvati, is being hosted by Wasifiri as part of its 30th birthday celebrations. Morris is one of the finest international contemporary poets, and was recently appointed poet laureate of Jamaica. He has also nurtured generations of outstanding Caribbean voices over decades. In London for a rare appearance, Morris will read the incisive poetry that characterises his work, which ranges from the personal to the political, from the local to the universal, and which has come to be seen as some of the best writing to emerge out of the Caribbean in modern times. He will be joined by John Hegley and Mimi Khalvati (pictured), two highly distinctive poets whose work challenges and engages diverse audiences in its choice of subject, language and form.

Date: Monday 13 October
Venue : Conference Centre, British Library, Euston Road, London NW1
Time: 6.30pm
Price: £10.00; £8.00 (over 60s); £7.00
Bookings: To book, click here