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Michael Buffong announces his first season as Artistic Director of Talawa

Michael Buffong

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

NEWLY appointed Artistic Director, Michael Buffong, has outlined his first year of programming for Talawa Theatre Company – Britain’s primary Black-led theatre company. Highlights for 2012/2013 include:

TALAWA FIRSTS

Curated by Michael Buffong, Talawa Firsts is a new studio season charged with developing and showcasing the best in Black British writing and emerging creatives. The aim is to provide a space to hear untold stories, written by thrilling new voices and directed by young directors.

Dad(die) by Charlene James, directed by Tinuke Graig – Wednesday, June 13 (7.30pm to 9pm).

Pregnant Jasmine and her boyfriend Isaac are going to get away, make a fresh start and be the perfect family. But before they leave there are a few things they need to say to Dad! Set in a run down bedsit, Dad(die) is the darkly comic tale of an absent father.

Stronger, written and directed by Alexander Williams – Friday, June 15 (7.30pm to 9pm).

Three women speaking, first as one but then emerging as three distinct, powerful voices, Stronger takes a look at what it means to be a Black women in the UK today.

Writer Alexander Williams has been a member of the Royal Court Writers Group, his plays have been read and performed at Battersea Arts Centre, Jackson’s Lane and Lauderdale House, and he is a published children’s author.

Stronger is presented by Golden Delilah, which was founded by Anniwaa Buachie and commissions new writing that has a strong female focus.

Rise by Cynthia Bernard, directed by Anthony Ekundayo Lennon – Wednesday, June 20 (7.30pm to 9pm).

Granville and Majorie have lost their son to gang violence. Jeremy has lost his best friend. Granville pushes through his grief, tries to find new purpose in life and teeters on the edge of a breakdown. But the death of her son is proving too much for Majorie. And Jeremy just cannot get over the loss of his closest friend.

Cortae by Shereen Jasmin Phillips, directed by Stef O’Driscoll – Friday, June 22 (7.30pm to 9pm).

Cortae is a young Black man living in inner city London. Follow him on his journey of self discovery as he struggles to reconcile being true to himself with trying to please the ones he loves.

First developed as part of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme, the play candidly examines attitudes to homosexuality in the Caribbean community. Shareen Jasmin Phillips’ work has been read and performed at the Lyric Lounge, Hampstead Theatre, Oval House and as part of Old Vic, New Voices.

Keepsake by Fraser Ayres, directed by Nadia Latif – Wednesday, June 27 (7.30pm to 9pm).

The Prime Minister has been kidnapped and is being held in a council flat on an estate. The captor is not insane or disturbed; simply, he has had enough. Believing that he is doing what many of us would wish to, he seeks to unearth the humanity of the Prime Minister by any means necessary and to find out what the hell is going on. But who will change who?

Echoes by N Richard Nash, directed by Erica Miller – Friday, June 29 (7.30pm to 9pm).

Within an asylum a couple fight to remain happily mad, as all they fear is sanity.

Talawa Studio, 53 – 55 East Road, London, N1 6AH

TALAWA YOUNG PEOPLE’S THEATRE (TYPT) – July 30 to August 25 (performances from August 23 to August 25 at The Embassy Theatre, Central School of Speech & Drama).

Now in its seventeenth year, Talawa Young People’s Theatre (TYPT) is an annual summer school for budding young theatre-makers (performers, writers, designers, stage managers) to develop skills and create a brand new piece of theatre for performance in a professional London venue. Past TYPT shows have been presented at Sadler’s Wells, the National Maritime Museum, Drill Hall and the Grahamstown Festival in South Africa.

This year, twelve 18 – 25 year olds will work for four intensive weeks with director Anthony Ekundayo Lennon, choreographer Coral Messam and other professional theatre practitioners to devise a piece that tells the story and poses the questions that the young company want to present.

GOD’S PROPERTYSOHO THEATRE

Produced in association with Soho Theatre, directed by Michael Buffong and written by award-winning playwright Arinze Kene, God’s Property will have its world premiere at Soho Theatre in February 2013 before touring the UK (dates to be confirmed).

It’s 1982 and Britain is gripped by economic downturn, riots and high unemployment. Teenagers are restless and in Deptford, London, sixteen year old, mixed race Onochie rules the family roost. That is until a barely known older brother (Chima) returns to make past wrongs right and rekindle a relationship with his skinhead younger brother, who no longer wants to be black.

Chima is also not welcomed in the area and has only a few hours to meaningfully connect with his brother.

But outside, a hostile community has been alerted to Chima’s return. He has been blamed for the death of a white girl and the community won’t be satisfied until he faces their rough justice. It leaves Onochie with the tough decision of siding with the community he has tried to belong to; or standing with the brother he doesn’t know.

Arinze Kene was named most promising playwright by Off West End.com (Offies) for his debut play Estate Walls which ran at the Oval House Theatre, and English Touring Theatre’s co-production of Kene’s play Little Baby Jesus was nominated for two Off West End Theatre Awards – Best New Play and Best Male Performer. He was also shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon award in 2009.

Kene was a member of the Young Writers’ Programme at the Royal Court Theatre. He was also invited onto the Soho Theatre’s Young Writers Group and has been part of the Soho Theatre HUB writer’s programme. He is currently part of the writing team on E20 for EastEnders.