TBB Reviews 'The Suicide' @ The National Theatre Looking At How Theatre of The Absurd Resonates With Modern Life

It's not often that mainstream theatre presents a production which divides the theatre-community. Enter The Suicide. Adapted by British-Sudanese playwright Suhayla El-Bushra from Nicolai Erdman's original 1926 Russian satire of the same name, El-Bushra breathes new life into a theatre genre which definitely needed new life, and El-Bushra has largely succeeded. She transports ...

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Wil Johnson

TBB Speaks to Wil Johnson - Pioneer Black TV Detective, Veteran of Shakespearean Theatre, Currently in Talawa's King Lear.

Wilbert "Wil" Johnson is a Tottenham lad who is possibly one of our more important actors working today. The nation best knows him for his work in some of TV's best-loved shows, as well as BBC's groundbreaking, Babyfather. The significance of some of these roles makes him a TBB Treasure. But, ...

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#TBBmustREAD Tupele Dorgu Talks Being Legally Blonde!  

If I mention the name Tupele Dorgu there is a likelihood that you wouldn't be sure who I was talking about. But mention the name Kelly Crabtree and the curly haired ex-Coronation street alumni actress will spring to mind. Yes this character is her most famous role to date but ...

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Selina Thompson

Selina Thompson Writes About New Project 'Salt' Exclusively for TBB!!!

I’m sat on a train. The train is taking me from my Mum and Dad’s house, to a flat in Bristol – and that flat is going to be my home for the next few months. And while I’m there, I’m going to make the first iteration of Salt; my new ...

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Jonzi D

Credit Ben Wachenje

TBB's Be Manzini Speaks to Jonzi D Ahead of This Weekend's 13th Breakin' Convention

Jonzi D is in his lounge, in matching grey trackies and a top, roll up in hand, relaxed and open. The last time I saw Jonzi D, I stood next to him at a concert; pillar high hat and a faux-fur jacket, his swagger often makes him stand out. Our ...

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#TEAMTBB Downtime @ Prince/3RDEYEGIRL Concert @ Electric Ballroom 05/02/2014

He hates the Internet, he suspicious of technology, he can't stand amateur video footage and it would seem he hates money. Charging only £10.00 for the chance to see him perform, music legend Prince kicked off his UK tour at the Electric Ballroom in Camden on Tuesday 4th February. Yes there ...

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Ash Law

New Music Radar – TBB Speaks To Emerging Uk Rapper/Poet Ash Law

Ash Law is a talented London based lyricist quietly going about his business. This MC has so far, seemingly neglected to follow the popular ‘Grime’ or ‘Trap’ formula as a means of creating an instant buzz and instead stayed on a steady course of conventional UK Hip Hop. Ash’s delivery is ...

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TBB’s Verona Spence-Adofo Speaks to Michelle Gayle About Her Latest Role in CBBC's Wolfblood

Michelle Gayle is a recording artist, songwriter, actress and author. She started her career at a young age landing roles in popular children's shows such as Grange Hill (Produced by BBC) and Press Gang (produced by Richmond Film & Television). In 1990 Michelle joined the cast of the BBC's long ...

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#TBBmustRead TBB's Eysis Clacken Speaks to Actress Bunmi Mojekwu About New Production Company

Bunmi Mojekwu is a British actress with a vast career in TV, film and theatre. At the age of 17 Bunmi started her career at the Royal Court Theatre in the Lawrence Olivier awarding winning play 'Gone Too Far' playing the street wise character Paris. She then went on to star ...

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ShakaRa Speaks to the UK's Most Prominent Black Farmer Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones

You would be hard pushed to find about brand name more literal than “The Black Farmer”. It not only describes Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, (the man behind the brand), but reflects simple but effective work ethos that has made his business a success. The Black Farmer prides himself on providing good quality, ...

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#TBBmustRead Nicholas Pinnock Discusses His Lead Role in ITV Crime-Thriller 'Marcella'

Marcella, ITV's newest 8-part police thriller-with-a-twist is the much-anticipated return to British TV of Anna Friel. It is also 'Scandi Drama' writer Hans Rosenfeldt's first English-speaking series for British TV. However, TBB are excited, because it brings Nicholas Pinnock to primetime terrestrial TV in a male lead role! He plays opposite ...

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Sheila Atim as 'The Woman' in Les Blancs at The National Theatre, 2016

Credit: Johan Persson

#TBBreviews MUST SEE 'Les Blancs' Currently Showing At The National Theatre

Les Blancs (The Whites) is African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry's final, unfinished work, yet, it debuted in 1970 on Broadway - 5 years after her death. Her ex-husband (Jewish publisher, songwriter and political activist Robert Nemiroff) fashioned that first version from the drafts she had been working on. It seems that, in ...

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Tbb’s Albert Yanney Speaks to Yolanda Mercy Ahead Of Solo Show ‘On The Edge of Me’ Focusing on Mental Health

yolanda_mercy_on_the_edge_meOn The Edge of Me is a ‘Solo Dark Comedy’ which fuses storytelling, poetry, live music and audience participation. This unique production combines the aforementioned elements as a gateway to exploring mental health issues in correlation to the dilemma of graduate unemployment.

Written and performed solely by playwright Yolanda Mercy; On the Edge of Me is heading to Wandsworth Arts Fringe Theatre this month.

Since 2015, the play has gone from strength to strength: rated four stars sold out in Soho; and winning the Rich Mix ‘Small Story Big City’ Emerging Artist Programme Award.

The play centers on the story of Remi, a recent graduate, who navigates the audience through her 21st century journey of discovery and struggles with unemployment and a mental health disorder.

We were delighted to be able to speak to Yolanda about OTEOM and its central themes this week.

Yolanda welcome to The British Blacklist. First of all, tell us about your working history in the Arts sector…

I always knew I wanted to work in the arts when I was younger. I wanted to be a backing dancer for someone like Jennifer Lopez or Janet Jackson. I attended the Brit school from age 14 and my main focus was dance but I did drama as an option. After the Brit school, I got a place at Trinity Laban – where I did more dance and developed my voice as an artist. It was during my second year, and a physical theatre module that I found Peter Brook on a shelf in the library. From that point my life was changed. I realised yes, I love dance and Janet Jackson but what I really love is how a production, song or art piece can tell a story. Stories with words and visuals really excited and led me to explore theatre more.

The first show I saw was “Rope” at The Almeida. This dark yet thought provoking show ignited my interest in challenging stories and things that make me question people and their moral compass. After my first time at the theatre that was it. I wanted more. So I joined the Young Vic Young people’s council and saw everything at the theatre. I did all of this during my degree… Then when I left I started grafting. I still remained close to the Young Vic although branching out to learn more.

I did my first paid acting job for ITV. It was a re-enactment of a robbery, after that I did Aladdin at the Lyric Hammersmith, The Street Scene – my first opera at the Young Vic, Bow Down – my first paid touring acting job, Poet’s Manifesto – my first lead role,  then I created On The Edge of Me – my first solo show.

When and why did you decide to write the ‘On the Edge of Me’?

Almost 2 years ago as a reaction to the things that were going on around me and I was personally experiencing. I knew a lot of people who were tackling the the dilemma of being qualified and unemployed leading to a mental health issues ranging from (mild to severe). However with all of this going on, no one spoke out about it, which made me question- why not? As a reaction to this, On The Edge of Me was born.

Do you believe there should be far more serious conversation and government initiative on this matter?

I think that people are now becoming more aware and open to having conversations about issues of unemployment and mental health. However, I think it’s time to convert the conversations into actions. We need to start implementing the ideas and putting things into place to support people.

Yolanda Mercy

Yolanda Mercy

How much background reading, field work and research did you undertake during the making of this production?

I did a lot of speaking to people, attending groups and testing out the play. By the end of this process, I was overwhelmed with how many people said that they felt like “I’ve written their lives”.

What are the acute challenges of executing this type of solo dramatic performance?

I think the challenge that held us back for a while was funding. This piece was rejected 3 times by the Arts Council but we were persistent. I worked a lot with the show’s director (and long-time friend), Jade Lewis, to find ways of being resourceful. Tapping into our networks opened up a lot of doors and possibilities which led to money. Eventually we received Arts Council funding. It has been a long journey, which at certain points left me feeling like I should just give up. However, every time I got close, an opportunity would come my way and I’d perform the play or lead a workshop about it (the way I created it); and then people would come up to me and say,“I’m glad you are sharing this story, we need more real life and relatable stories like yours“.

When people say things like that to me, I remember why I wrote this piece.

As much as this is a ‘one-woman show’, who else has been intrinsically involved in the making of this production?

Jade Lewis has been there a lot; she’s always supported me and helped me expand the vision for this piece… Even in the cold winters when we were emailing and hustling she was my rock and kept fighting for this piece. Alongside her I’d say my family, peers and audience who come to the show over and over again. They provide feedback and always support. In terms of the writing, I’d definitely have to give Jules Haworth (Soho Theatre) a lot of credit. She saw the piece 9 months ago and worked with me dramaturgically and really unpicked the piece to help me create the new and highly improved version of On The Edge of Me. In terms of making the piece happen smoothly, my show’s producer Gemma Lloyd, who is a boss! She is so positive and very supportive. She has been in the industry for over 15 years and made so many amazing projects. I always feel so blessed when I think that someone of her calibre and prestige is working with Jade and I. She’s helped us take our work to another level. Then last but by no means least, Rich Mix and Ideas Tap. They believed in my idea; supported it through to a full show, and without them I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in. Their support has helped me gain funding and more shows.

I find it interesting that you perform alone to address the topic of mental health; a characteristically “insular” personal or “individual” human experience. How intentional was this decision?

I wish I was a genius and could say I totally thought of that but it wasn’t. However, I intentionally involve the audience to help question and think about mental health and its perception as an illness.

What did you discover that impacted upon you the most regarding the mental health of graduates and its relationship to unemployment?

That a lot of people are affected by it, but no one speaks about it. However, I think this is slowly changing.

What do you hope this play will achieve for those who come to see it this month?

I want it to break down the barriers and stigma attached to unemployment and mental health issues by allowing people to start having a conversation around it. I think you said something earlier, which really resonates with this piece and the themes it addresses which is about “isolation”. Many people feel alone/and or isolated but I want this piece to support people in speaking out and getting the support they need. The aim is also to get people to start a conversation with people who they think may be affected.

When and where can we see you perform the play this month?

This month (May) I’ll be at Wandsworth fringe – Saturday 7th (2.45pm), Sunday 8th (6pm) and Sunday 15th (7.30pm).

I’ll be leading a FREE workshop using On The Edge of Me to explore how to create and produce a solo show 19th May 4.30pm at

Chorlton Arts Festival 27th May, 7.30pm

What are you doing once this interview is over?

After this interview, I am preparing for my creative day. I’m creating a new theatre show and web series – so I’ll be camping out at BAC to work hard!

To find out more /  book tickets to see On the Edge of Me go to: 




interview for the british blacklist by @AYanneyTBB

BOOK NOW For Last Few Performances of Olivier Award-winning ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ @ National Theatre

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOMAugust Wilson’s Olivier award-winning play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, directed by Dominic Cooke, with Sharon D Clarke leading the cast as Ma Rainey, ends its run in the Lyttelton Theatre on 18 May.

Chicago, 1927. In a recording studio on the city’s South Side, a battle of wills is raging. Ma Rainey, Mother of the Blues, uses every trick in the book to fight her record producers for control of her music. Hardened by years of ill-treatment and bad deals, she’s determined that ‘Black Bottom’, the song that bears her name, will be recorded her way. But Levee, the band’s swaggering young trumpet player, plans to catapult the band into the jazz age. His ambition puts them all in danger.

Cast includes John Paul Connolly, Clint Dyer, O-T Fagbenle, Tamara Lawrance, Tunji Lucas, Finbar Lynch, Stuart McQuarrie, Lucian Msamati and Giles Terera. The production is designed by Ultz, with lighting by Charles Balfour, music by Tim Sutton, movement by Coral Messam, sound by Paul Arditti and fight direction by Bret Yount.

  • Final performances: evenings at 7.30pm, matinees at 2.15pm
    May – Mon 9, Tues 10 mat and eve, Mon 16, Tues 17, and Wed 18 mat and eve.
  • Box Office: 020 7452 3000 / Information: 020 7452 3400
  • Book tickets online:  nationaltheatre.org.uk 

Read The British Blacklist review of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: http://www.thebritishblacklist.com

BFI London Film Festival & American Express Announce Renewed Sponsorship

60th_bfi_london_film_festivalThe 60th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® 5-16 October 2016

Following a successful six year collaboration, the BFI London Film Festival (LFF) and American Express today announce a continuation of their partnership, which will see American Express remain as Principal Sponsor and Preferred Payment Partner.

Over the last six years the LFF has gone from strength to strength and has seen a steady growth in audience numbers following the implementation of a new strategic and creative direction under Festival Director, Clare Stewart. Her innovative approach to programming has been coupled with an expanded footprint of venues across London.

In addition, support from American Express has helped to drive the reach of the Festival across the UK with the nationwide cinecast of Opening Night galas including the European premieres of Suffragette (2015), The Imitation Game (2014), Captain Phillips (2013) and Frankenweenie (2012). The company has also presented some of the LFF’s biggest and most significant gala screenings: Carol (2015), Foxcatcher (2014), Philomena (2013) the World Premiere of Rolling Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane (2012) which was simulcast to cinemas across Europe, as well as the Oscar®-winning film The King’s Speech (2010).

The London film festival has also screened noted films including Biyi Bandele directed ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (2014) starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, and his Nollywood inspired film ‘Fifty’ (2015). Bola Agbaje’s adapted play ‘Gone Too Far’ directed by Destiny Ekaragha was screened by the festival in (2014) and the poignant documentary about Mark Duggan’s murder, ‘The Hard Stop’ directed by George Amponsah got its London premiere at the 2015 London film festival.

As a corner stone of the partnership, American Express Cardmembers have received a 48 hour priority booking period before tickets become available to the general public through the American Express Invites programme.

The partnership has previously been amplified through a variety of creative, cross-platform programmes including red carpet reportage, a PR and social media activation themed around film trivia, a photography-led campaign which paid homage to trailblazing women of film and an annual Evening Standard supplement featuring festival news and highlights.

Find out more about the 60th BFI London Film festival here: http://www.thebritishblacklist.com/bfi-london-film-festival

Black Theatre Live Announce Britain’s First All-­Black Hamlet as 4th Touring Show.

hamlet_black_live_theatreBlack Theatre Live announce Britain’s first all-­black Hamlet as fourth touring show. The new adaptation from the consortium of eight venues will be directed by Jeffery Kissoon

Following the success of their first two productions, Macbeth and She Called Me Mother, and shortly after their upcoming tour of The Diary of a Hounslow Girl, Black Theatre Live has announced that it will be touring Britain’s first all-­black Hamlet from September 2016.

A co-production with Watford Palace Theatre and Stratford Circus Arts Centre, the show will be directed by Jeffery Kissoon, who has most notably worked for the RSC, the National Theatre, Robert Lepage, Peter Hall and in Peter Brook’s seminal production of The Mahabharata. Award-winning playwright Mark Norfolk, the inaugural winner of the Roland Rees Bursary, adapts the play from Shakespeare’s original folio edition to create a fast-moving, contemporary version that gets to the heart of a young man’s dilemma.

Mark Norfolk’s adaptation sees Denmark as a modern Black Empire of England where an intelligent young student returns to discover the world he once knew has crumbled. Faced with the new king’s change in regime and religion, and implored to defend what is left of his father’s decaying legacy, Hamlet now faces the greatest moral challenge – to kill or not to kill.

Director Jeffery Kissoon said, “In Hamlet we reflect on the Black experience, anxieties, and sensibilities in a modern era. Shakespeare’s wonderfully rich text explores a tormented humanity, asking the searching questions of life and death faced head-on by a young Black Prince. ‘Remember me’ is the theme of this production: by saying ‘Remember me’, the ghost of Hamlet’s father is urging Hamlet to remember not just him, but his background, heritage and all those that came before him”.

Jeffery Kissoon’s theatre credits include playing Antony opposite Kim Cattrall’s Cleopatra at the Liverpool Playhouse, Julius Caesar in Greg Doran’s production for the Royal Shakespeare Company and many Shakespearean and many classical roles under directors including Robert Lepage, Peter Brook, Peter Hall, Simon McBurney, Calixto Bieto, Nicholas Hytner and Trevor Nunn on productions such as Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, The Tempest, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Mahabharata, Waiting for Godot and The Crucible. His film credits include Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ham & The Piper, Dirty Pretty Things, Hamlet and on Television, Agatha Christie, Dalziel and Pascoe, Holby City, Casualty, Space 1999 and the recurring roles of Judge Anthony Abego in EastEnders in 2015, and Mr Kennedy in Grange Hill. As a director his work includes Ave Africa, an adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, The Meeting and Mark Norfolk’s plays Where The Flowers Grow, Naked Soldiers and Knock Down Ginger.

Mark Norfolk writes for film, theatre and radio. His recent films Shadow Gene, Ham and the Piper and Crossing Bridges which he wrote and directed, have won many international awards including a Screen Nation Film Production Award, Best Film and Director at Festfilm Kosovo, SevenArt Best Film, Best Feature Film at the Carmarthen Bay International Film Festival, Best Film at the Black International Cinema Festival and a Silver Chris Award at the Columbus International Film Festival. His theatre work includes Blair’s Children at the Cockpit Theatre, Wrong Place for Soho Theatre, Where The Flowers Grow, Naked Soldiers and Knock Down Ginger for the Warehouse Theatre and in 2015 he became the first recipient of the Alfred Fagon Award’s Roland Rees Bursary.

Hamlet will run from 14th September. Find out more: http://blacktheatrelive.co.uk/tours

#TBBwatch Narrative Eye Trailer for ‘Young Othello – The Tragedy of the White Swan’

young_othelloYoung Othello – The Tragedy of the White Swan is a new play written by the historian Onyeka, author of Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, their Presence, Status and Origins…

… The glint of the sun on a scimitar’s point … the edge of a blade unabated …the
trail of blood … the moving accident by flood and field … the indomitability of a
headlong run to Armageddon … and yet he stands astride the Mediterranean
defying time … “You know my name, but you know not me.”
Young Othello…

Inspired by the characters in William Shakespeare’s Othello: The Moor of Venice;  Young Othello will stage exclusively for the first time during the Shakespeare400  celebrations to commemorate the life and work of William Shakespeare.

Help celebrate Shakespeare400 with the launch of Young Othello #YoungOthello

Shakespeare400 – Re-Imagining Renaissance Theatre

During 2016 Narrative Eye will be hosting a range of activities as part of the Shakespeare400 celebrations to commemorate the life and work of William Shakespeare. The inclusion of African people in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, and the work of other writers of the time, supports a growing body of research into the presence of African people in Tudor England

Africans In Renaissance Theatre

Join the historian Onyeka to investigate the African characters in Shakespeare’s work and the significance to our understanding of race in Tudor England. Dates for lectures and workshops to be released soon.

Find out more: http://www.narrative-eye.org.uk/youngothello.html

Read The British Blacklist Archive interview with Onyeka: http://www.thebritishblacklist.com/tbbsundayread-interview-onyeka-nubia



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