Discover your new favourite drama with Hidden Histories
Shining a Spotlight on new and rarely performed classics from world drama
Throughout Spring 2016, the Belgrade Theatre will play host to a unique season of new and rarely performed treasures from the world of drama which include the UK premiere of Red Snapper, a new play by home-grown talent, Liz Mytton, Lorraine Hansberry’s 20th Century masterpiece, A Raisin in the Sun and acclaimed writer Ishy Din’s First World War epic, Wipers.
Running in the B2 auditorium throughout Spring 2016, the Hidden Histories season will shine a spotlight on fascinating periods of history from across the world. Like all great costume dramas, these exciting and powerful new productions will tell incredible stories from another time and place, giving a voice to stories from diverse communities both here in the UK and across the wider world.
Red Snapper by Liz Mytton
Jamaica, 1962. Five women, swimming against the tide…
The play is set in Jamaica in 1962 and follows the story of five women who have been given the task of planning a welcome meal for Fidel Castro, the Cuban Communist leader, who is visiting the island. 1962 was a time of mixed fortunes and uncertainty for much of Jamaica. The road to independence was both celebrated and contentious, and people from all parts of Jamaican society were touched by the subsequent changes to governance, economy and culture.
The James Bond film, Doctor No, was famously filmed there in the early 60s and masses of Jamaicans were thinking about whether they should move to the United States or Canada or the UK. And for those staying, there was the question of what the new Jamaica was going to look like once independence went through.
‘I wanted to write a play that looked at the lives of ordinary people and ordinary women in particular’
Liz Mytton, Writer
The story is told from the perspective of the wives of five town councillors who inhabit a small coastal fishing village which is under threat from the burgeoning tourist trade.
Each of the characters featured come with their own unique set of problems and it is through the process of planning, preparing and executing the meal that we learn more about their personal and political struggles.
Characters include Pearline (played by Cathy Tyson) who is the wife of a struggling fisherman, Gloria who is the owner of a seaside hotel which has benefitted from the success of Doctor No and the glamorous image of Jamaica it promotes, Sissy who is married to a lecturer who sees himself as part of a newly emerging class in Jamaica, Myrtle – the elder of the group – a more traditional, religious figure who enjoys her status as wife of the mayor and finally Danette who is engaged to be married to Myrtle’s son, a local Pastor with hidden secrets of his own…
Red Snapper is the debut play by home-grown writing talent Liz Mytton and the first full production to come from the Belgrade Theatre’s new writing programme Critical Mass for emerging playwrights from Black and Minority Ethnic Communities. Critical Mass is an open-access writing programme for ages 18+ which aims to develop writers from Black and Ethnic minority communities. First established by The Royal Court Theatre in 2004, Critical Mass offers a unique platform for the voices and stories of emerging young writers from Black and Ethnic communities nationwide. The programme has grown from humble beginnings into a nationally recognized programme attracting commissions from across the UK.
Red Snapper features an all-female cast including BAFTA and Golden Globe nominee Cathy Tyson, playing a collection of both male and female characters. Cathy Tyson is a BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated actress with over three decades of experience in the industry. She began her career at the Liverpool Everyman at the age of 17, before joining the RSC in 1984, and achieved widespread renown for her role in Mona Lisa alongside Bob Hoskins in 1986.
She will be joined on stage by Dawn Hope, who was last seen at the Belgrade starring as Clarity in the UK premiere of Cougar The Musical in 2015. Dawn’s previous theatre credits include The Scottsboro Boys for the New Vic, Porgy and Bess (Savoy Theatre), Rough Crossing (Lyric Hammersmith/National Tour), Piaf (Piccadilly Theatre/National Tour) and Chicago (The Cambridge Theatre/Sheffield Crucible).
Completing the cast is Gabrielle Brooks in the role of George/Dannette, Debra Michaels as Manny/Miss Myrtle, and Karlina Grace-Paseda as Gloria/Lincoln.
Times and Prices:
Red Snapper will run in B2 from Sat 5 – Sat 19 Mar. Tickets are priced from £9.50 – £17.
A Raisin in the Sun:
‘Sometimes it’s like I can see the future stretched out in front of me…a big, looming blank space – full of nothing.’ Walter Lee-Younger
A Raisin in the Sun is set in 1950s Chicago on the Southside. This intense family drama, written on the cusp of the civil rights era, follows the lives of the Younger family who await the arrival of a cheque for a life changing $10,000.
The play, which was the first ever on Broadway to be written by a black woman, explores the themes of social injustice, inequality and segregation in 1950s Chicago and is widely considered to be a classic of the 20th Century American drama cannon.
‘A Raisin in the Sun is the type of play I love – one with a domestic setting, universal themes and big emotions. Lorraine Hansberry was a visionary and a playwright I always introduce writers to. Like all great playwrights Hansberry allows her characters to speak the truth in a way that transcends time and place.’
Dawn Walton, Director
Characters include Lena, the mother and matriarch of the family, her son Walter, his wife Ruth and their son Travis who’s 10 as well as his sister Beneatha, who is in her early twenties. The family live on top of one another in a small apartment in downtown Chicago. Each family member has a very different idea of how the $10,000 should be spent.
The inspiration for Nina Simone’s much-loved song ‘Young, Gifted and Black’, Lorraine Hansberry won the New York Drama Critics’ Best Play of the Year Award at just 29 years old, becoming the first Black woman to do so. Before her untimely death at the age of just 34, Hansberry was a keen activist, applauded by many as an inspirational figure.
This brand new production will star Ashley Zhangazha as Walter, in one of the great roles of American theatre. Widely regarded as one to watch following performances in Henry V for the Michael Grandage Company and alongside Lenny Henry in Fences in the West End, Ashley won the 2013 Ian Charleson Award for his performance in Macbeth at the Sheffield Crucible.
He will be joined by Angela Wynter as Lena Younger. Angela had a long-running role in EastEnders, playing Yolande Trueman between 2003 and 2008. Other notable roles include Rafiki in the West End production of The Lion King (2001) and the title character in Robert Icke’s production of Catalysta. Angela will shortly be back on our screens as returning character Ifa Effanga in Holby City (BBC).
Fans of classic American drama on stage and screen such as Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’, Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Street Car Named Desire’, Reginald Rose’s ‘Twelve Angry Men’ and Alfred Uhry’s ‘Driving Miss Daisy’.
Times and Prices:
A Raisin in the Sun will run from Tues 22 – Sat 26 Mar in B2 (No performance on Good Friday). Tickets are priced from £12 – £27.
“We eat together, we fight together, we die together.”
Wipers is inspired by the real life story of Khuddadad Khan, the first South Asian soldier to be awarded a Victoria Cross for his extraordinary bravery at the First Battle of Ypres.
‘Not a lot of people know that over a million South Asian men volunteered to join the British Army during the First World War. As a nationality, they received one of the highest percentages of Victoria Crosses during the conflict. That’s an incredible contribution and something we should all be proud of’ Suba Das, Director
The action of the play takes place in October 1914 on the night of the first battle of Ypres, Belgium – known to the troops as ‘Wipers’. The British forces, bolstered by huge numbers of volunteer soldiers from across the Empire have suffered huge casualties in one of the first bloody battles of The Great War.
As a sole survivor on the battlefield holds off the advancing enemy troops, a group of South Asian and British soldiers seek refuge in an abandoned barn in the midst of a real-life hell on earth.
Wipers honours the contribution of the million South Asian soldiers who fought alongside British soldiers during the First World War.
‘At the end of the day, they were just young men. Yes they were from hugely different backgrounds but, against all the odds, they somehow found a way to come together in truly hellish circumstances. That’s what we want people to take away from the show – that extraordinary things happen when people come together’
Suba Das, Director
Characters include Sadiq, a young South Asian man who is dealing with the complexity of being from a really poor, rural South Asian background but being offered a way out of that life by the British Army, Thomas, a young British officer who is entirely out of his depth amidst the chaos and confusion of the trenches, AD – a gruff and straightforward member of the company and Ayyub, a fresh-faced new recruit who comes into the war a naive young soldier and leaves it a very different man…
Ishy Din came to playwriting late in life in his mid-40s after spending 20 years as a taxi driver. His first stage play Snookered premiered in 2012 in London. Set in a snooker hall, the play tells the story of four young British Muslim men on a night out to commemorate the death of a friend, who find their relationships compromised as long-hidden truths rise to the surface.
Directed by Suba Das, the cast includes Jassa Ahluwalia as Thomas, Waleed Akhtar as Ayub, Simon Rivers as Sadiq and Sartaj Garewal as A.D.
Fans of WW1 dramas such as ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘Flare Path’. Fans of historical period dramas such as ‘Indian Summers’, ‘The Crimson Field’ and ‘Our World War’ & wartime fiction such as ‘Birdsong’ and ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’.
Times and Prices:
Wipers will run from Thurs 12 – Sat 21 May in B2. Tickets are priced from £10.25