For Black Boys…show black men as vulnerable human beings

By Asia Quidley , aged 16, a performing arts student

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is an incredible play that explores the struggles that black men go through in life.

Everything about this play is spectacular, even down to the set design and the music, which is significant to black culture.

The cast, who are on stage at all times, each give an amazing performance, and they tell the story of not just their characters, but the stories of many black boys and men across the UK – and world.  

Written so beautifully, the play focuses on six black men who are in therapy and this is where they pour their hearts out and share with each other their experiences of being black men and how it has affected them.

Throughout the play the men discuss their different beliefs on certain topics. For example, they speak about whether black history is important and should be taught in school, fatherhood, police profiling, colourism, sexuality, love, knife crime and many other complexities that are part of what it means to be a black man in Britain.

They express their pain and anger while telling their stories. There is brotherhood and hope as the men find a safe place with each other. When they embrace each other as a group, it is such a significant moment because oftentimes black men feel as though they are not allowed to break down and be vulnerable. But in the play, they dismantle these stereotypes and you get to see black men fighting through their fear and discomfort to be vulnerable.

Along with all the pain that is shown, there is also joyful energy when the boys are playful and euphoric. For Black Boys… is also full of comedy as the audience click and murmur in response during the play as they see themselves in the characters. The actors not only use words, but tell their stories through dance, song and physical theatre.

For Black Boys… should be seen, not just by black people but by people of all different races and genders as it is imperative that people hear and see black men as honest and sensitive human beings, which is something the world hasn’t always portrayed them as.

For Black Boys… is at the Apollo Theatre until 7th May 2023 and is written and directed by Ryan Calais Cameron.

Cast: Mark Akintimehin (Onyx), Emmanuel Akwafo (Pitch), Nnabiko Ejimofor (Jet), Darragh Hand (Sable), Aruna Jalloh (Obsidian), Kaine Lawrence (Midnight)

The play is inspired by Ntozake Shange’s seminal work For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.

Photo credit: Ali Wright