London's Tricycle Theatre to Present Not Black and White Season

News   London's Tricycle Theatre to Present Not Black and White Season
North London's Tricycle Theatre will present a three-month season of new plays that examines the state of Britain at the end of the first decade of the 21st century from the perspective of three leading black contemporary playwrights.

Presented under the umbrella title Not Black and White, Roy Williams, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Bola Agbaje will tackle the prison system, the mayoralty and immigration in their respective plays, directed by Paulette Randall, playwright Kwei-Armah and Indhu Rubasingham, respectively.

The season will run Oct. 8-Dec. 19, with all three productions eventually running together in repertory. The season will be designed by Rosa Maggiora with lighting by James Farncombe and sound by Tom Lishman. Casting for all three plays will be announced shortly.

In a press statement, Nicolas Kent, the Tricycle's artistic director, commented, "Three years ago the Tricycle launched a four month season with a black ensemble company premiering three plays chronicling the African-American experience in the 20th century. As we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century and, across London, black and Asian children outnumber white British children by about six to four, I thought it important and challenging to look at the society in which we live from the perspective of three leading black writers."

The season launches with the world premiere of Roy Williams' Category B, beginning performances Oct. 8 (prior to an official opening Oct. 12), then running in rep to Dec. 19. Williams has previously been represented at the Tricycle Theatre by the London premieres of his plays Starstruck and The Gift, and the 2008 run of his play Days of Significance in a Royal Shakespeare Company production. His other plays include Sing Yer Heart out for the Lads and Baby Girl (both at the National) and Lift Off, Clubland and Fallout (all Royal Court, with the latter televised by Channel 4).

In the play, set in a Category B prison, "Saul runs a tip-top wing - the screws love him for it, especially Angela. Prisoners follow his rules, and it's all gravy. But Saul's number two position is vacant, new inmates are flooding in, so everyone's feeling the heat. Errol could fill the gap, but he's up for parole in 6 weeks, and now new kid Rio's rocking the boat. No-one wants to go to Cat B, but the world on the outside is a different story." The play is directed by Paulette Randall, who last worked at the Tricycle when she directed August Wilson's Radio Golf. She has also previously directed Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running and King Hedley II there.

Kwame Kwei-Armah's Seize the Day begins performances Oct. 22 (prior to an official opening Nov. 2), then runs in repertory to Dec. 17. Kwei-Armah, who is a member of the Tricycle's Bloomberg Writer's Group, was last represented at the Tricycle by the 2008 run of his play Let There Be Love. He has also written three plays for the National, Elmina's Kitchen (which subsequently transferred to the West End's Garrick Theatre), Fix Up and Statement of Regret. The play revolves around "a black candidate for Mayor of London. A well-spoken, good-looking Londoner, with an appetite for change, he has sold his pitch on reality TV – but can he be the real people's candidate?"

Bola Agbaje's Detaining Justice begins performances Nov. 25 (prior to an official opening Nov. 30), then runs in repertory to Dec. 15. Agbaje's debut play Gone too Far was seen at the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs in 2007, and won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affliate Theatre. Her second play In Time opened the Tiata Delights season at the Almeida Theatre. More recently she worte Anything You Can Do for Soho Theatre.

In the play, "Justice is locked in a cold dark cell, his asylum application pending. His sister Grace would like to help, but has been told to leave it in God's hands. Government Prosecutor Mr. Cole has an infallible reputation for successful prosecutions - however he has had a change of heart – and job. His first case is for the defence of Justice – but in his new role is Cole the man to help? The cloud of recession looms, unemployment rises, and the fight to remain is tougher than ever."

Director Indhu Rubasingham has previously co-directed the Tricycle's The Great Game: Afghanistan season with Nicolas Kent; and has also directed Fabulation and Starstruck at the theatre.

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