Spencer Fearon at the BUFF 2014 UK premiere of 'The Trials of Muhammad Ali'

#TBBSUNDAYREAD Former Boxer Spencer Fearon Speaks To TBB About 'The Trials of Muhammad Ali'

Spencer Fearon is a fan of Muhammad Ali – unsurprising, since he had a 6 year career as a professional boxer (1997-2003) and has spent all of his time since promoting fights, managing fighters, commentating and commenting on fights. I caught up with him on a Friday night, after I ...

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Mo Ali, Director

#TBBSUNDAYREAD Albert Yanney Talks to Director Mo Ali Ahead of BUFF 2014 World Premiere of “Montana”

“If you are pigeonholed…break out of it…but do it cleverly” Call it irony or call it destiny in that so far… the life journey of director Mo Ali has been acutely cinematic. Born in poverty-stricken Saudi Arabia to Somali parents, the family migrated to England in 1992 and raised a young ...

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Kunga Dred Speaks to Director Mark One about Short Film ‘I Am Who’ Premiering at BUFF 2014

Kunga Dred Speaks to Director Mark One about Short Film 'I Am Who' Premiering at BUFF 2014

ON YOUR MARKS! In this fast paced, visually mediated world you could be forgiven for not knowing the name of Mark One Group creative agency. But you would have almost certainly seen some of the images created by this London based global reaching film and branding company. Founded by Mark One ...

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BBC Wales’ Launchpad Fund to Help Further Music Careers. Deadline to Apply 3rd November 2014

BBC Wales' Launchpad Fund to Help Further Music Careers. Deadline to Apply 3rd November 2014

The Launchpad Fund, part of the Horizons scheme to develop new contemporary music in Wales, is for those starting on their musical journey and at a crucial point in their development. Launchpad applications will be open from today to Wales-based artists and bands writing, producing and performing original contemporary popular music ...

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Creating Role Models Announce First EVER Back To Black, Black History Month Event @ BAFTA

Creating Role Models Announce First EVER Back To Black, Black History Month Event @ BAFTA

Creating Role Models are proud to announce the first EVER Black History Month UK event of its kind to take place at the prestigious BAFTA 195 Piccadilly on October 5th 2014 in celebration of Black History Month. Founded by Fredi Nwaka, Back to Black is a fund raising event in support ...

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ANSWER A Simple Question For Your Chance to WIN Exclusive Premae Make Over

ANSWER A Simple Question For Your Chance to WIN Exclusive Premae Make Over

To celebrate the opening of the Premae Beauty flagship store in London's world famous Whiteley's shopping centre in Bayswater we are offering you the chance to go into the store and get a FREE express make over AND the choice of one FREE product. All you need to do is answer ...

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British Urban Film Festival Secures Premiere Rights To Screen Critically Acclaimed ‘The Trials of Muhammad Ali’ This September in London

British Urban Film Festival Secures Premiere Rights To Screen Critically Acclaimed 'The Trials of Muhammad Ali' This September in London

The British Urban Film Festival has scored a major coup in its coverage of the event after securing the UK festival rights to screen the premiere of critically-acclaimed documentary 'The Trials ofMuhammad Ali' in the opening weekend of September. Outspoken and passionate in his beliefs, #TrialsOfAli examines how one of the ...

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Labrinth

Labrinth

Timothy McKenzie  better known by his stage name Labrinth, is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. Initially, he was tipped to work as a producer, but Simon Cowell signed him to his record label Syco Music as a solo act. In the process, Labrinth became Cowell's first non-talent show ...

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Kwabs

Kwabs

Hailing from the United Kingdom, Kwabs follows in the footsteps of other electronically-tinged soul artists such as Sampha and James Blake, bringing his warm baritone to soul pieces informed by modern electronic music trends.   Facebook / Soundcloud / Twitter / Spotify     If any information on this page is missing or incorrect please ...

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Ella Eyre

Ella Eyre

Ella McMahon, better known by her stage name Ella Eyre, is a British singer and songwriter signed to Virgin EMI Records. She's known for her collaborations with Rudimental on their UK number one single "Waiting All Night" and Naughty Boy and Wiz Khalifa on his single "Think About It". Her debut ...

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The British Blacklist Reviews Amma Asante’s ‘Belle’ Out in UK Cinemas From Today

The British Blacklist Reviews Amma Asante's 'Belle' Out in UK Cinemas From Today

It was last year I discovered Belle and at first my interest was indifferent. Period drama, British so I assumed it was a full English and not really up British Blacklist's street. But when I saw the director's name Amma! Her surname Asante! Lead star Gugu Mbatha-Raw! The frantic search ...

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Zoe Sailsman Asghar, director of short film  'Longing'

Documenting Hopelessness. Writer-Director of Globetrotting Short ‘Longing’ Zoe Sailsman-Asgha Speaks Albert Yanney for TBB

Zoe Sailsman-Asghar is a writer-director and producer of 'Longing'. She carries years of experience working within development, production and distribution in the UK TV and film industry. She has worked at high profile multi-award winning film companies such as Pathe (The Queen, Slumdog Millionaire), DJ Films (Adulthood, Kidulthood, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, The ...

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Nellie Tandoh Reviews New Play ‘In Bed’ Written & Directed by Featuring Actor Adebayo Bolaji

in_bed

“Women analyse until there is nothing to analyse but the word analyse”

Seun and Nina have come to spend the night together to rehearse for a play, however the script ends up becoming a distraction when they begin to open up about their thoughts concerning past and present situations with the opposite sex.

Writer, director and featuring actor of ‘In Bed’, Adebayo Bolaji (Seun) alongside Allyson Ava Brown (Nina) take the audience through the aspects of a platonic friendship. Within that they open up in a sensitive yet profound conversational dialogue about their ideas, misconceptions and the confusing mixed messages both genders experience when it comes to the opposite sex and how these can become misinterpreted assumptions in a comfortable albeit intimate setting.

Bolaji is able to bring an essence of metaphysical theatre to the script making it possible for the audience to believe that this dialogue is taking place at present time, leading to it becoming more relatable. Set in Nina’s bedroom, the dialogue between the two characters has a genuine familiar feel to it. The great chemistry on stage between Bolaji and Ava-Brown definitely had the audience paying attention, whilst reminiscing, potentially in embarrassment, of discussions and situations they may have encountered in reality.

Allyson’s portrayal as a somewhat insecure woman in the form of Nina, made it difficult for me to side with her at the start of the performance as she openly flirts, overanalyses and throws assumptions about the males in her life towards Seun, however as the performance goes on, you see Nina unravelling (physically as well as emotionally), and suddenly begin to sympathise with her when she converses about the male figures in her life: her absent father, loving boyfriend and her feelings towards one of her co-stars, showing just how vulnerable and confused about what it is that she really wants when it comes to males. This possibly indicates to the audience and helps us understand why she has these expectations of how males should behave towards her. Allyson gives a vastly emotional performance portraying just how erratic the female mind can be.

Ade does the unexpected in depicting Seun, who in a tricky position and dealing with his own relationship problems, doesn’t submit to becoming the predictable ‘predator’ male. His oblivious yet strong-minded behaviour towards Nina as he advises her and contributes his reasons why males act a certain way, definitely had me questioning throughout the performance why he didn’t do the obvious thing. An assumption made on my behalf? Most definitely, and that’s quite possibly what the problem is! These moments displayed just how far mixed messages and certain actions are analysed in sight of the opposite sex. The two characters may have been comfortable with each other as friends, yet the thought of crossing that line had never been discussed, until now.

As a two piece cast, Adebayo and Allyson do exceedingly well in relying on each other whilst allowing their characters to remain very independent by bouncing off each other’s mannerisms and creating awkward pauses that aren’t awkward, highlighting the sexual tension between them. Despite advances eventually made on both parts, they are able to keep the audience guessing to the very end which direction will their intimate intentions go…will they or won’t they?

‘In Bed’ by Adebayo Bolaji and co-produced by What Was That? Productions & Ex Nihilo Theatre Group is showing until Saturday 20th September at the London Theatre Workshop.

Please go to the website to purchase tickets: https://kiosk.iristickets.co.uk

review written for the british blacklist by @Nellie_Ville

@DescantDeb Reviews ‘Malachi’ Premiere at Peckhamplex…Amongst Other Things.

malachi

September 8th saw the Peckhamplex cinema complex on Rye Lane screen the new short film directed by Daniel Bailey and written by Sanchez Brown, who personally greeted many of the audience. Peckhamplex director Simone Brown had put together an entertaining evening hosted by comedian and SBTV presenter Aaron Roach-Bridgeman, culminating with the main event – the premiere of Malachi.

First, the sold-out Theatre 4 was shown an extended trailer for London Reigns Sports by triple jumper and film maker Nonso Okolo. In answering Roach-Bridgeman’s questions afterward, Okolo revealed that his decision to combine the two resulted in the creation of the Road to Rio 2016 series of documentary film shorts. Having been in training since the age of 14, including during his Communication and Media studies at Brunel University, Okolo embarked on this film project in 2012 to showcase those 10+ years of training, injury and team dynamics that most sporting talents commit to, to become topflight, or elite, athletes. This is also a personal work showing the group of 7 long jumpers and 3 triple jumpers who have become not just team mates, but family. It is a group which includes Nathan Fox who placed 6th and Danny Lewis who placed 7th at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014.

The trailer was a series of fun-filled footage of the group’s time in America for some acclimatisation training (getting used to training in the heat/humidity similar to the forthcoming games). The film and, indeed, the young film maker were hugely impressive. It occurred to me that Nonso Okolo might be a modern sign of my hope inspired by The Trials of Muhammad Ali documentary which recently premiered at BUFF [Read the review here]. All of the discussion that TBB brought you in the form of an interview with ex-boxer Spencer Fearon [Read it here] and the post-premiere discussion [Read it here] might just be embodied in this contemplative young talent.

Next, came the ultra-short film Game Over by actor and film maker Cyrus Trafford. This was a brief exploration of the emotions which video games can stir up in young men, especially when the winning player indulges in particularly effective taunting. It was nice to see Sanchez Brown co-starring in the piece, along with Elijah Baker who also has a small part in Malachi. Trafford admitted to his host and the audience that he is embarking on various exciting projects, including his first feature which is due to be completed in November.

Then, the audience experienced  two powerful works by the intensely reflective performance poet Lionheart, given name Rhael Cape, who believes that there is strength in vulnerability. Both of his performed works were passionate and provocative, expressing aspects of relationships not often said aloud. Not often by a young black man.
Lionheart has already appeared on TV and in universities, competed in slams and won poetry championships. Team TBB are not surprised and we wish him luck for a future we are sure will be exciting!

Malachi came last of all. This is a stark thriller which presents the psychological suffering of a young man recently released from prison and who now attends a group for young people with traumatic pasts. It succeeds with many things: the lead actor, Solomon Israel, is a talent to watch, getting you to care for his character, ‘Ricky’, even as the full extent of his damaged psyche is revealed; it showcases what many young film makers are now attempting to show – that knowing the full story can colour an initial impression of black and white contrasts and muddy an apparently cut-and-dried situation; it examines emotional traumas, promotes the possibilities of seeking out help, and makes effective use of flashbacks. Where it is maybe not so successful is in presenting the story in so limited a time frame.

Brown admitted that he originally wrote a feature and the pace of the film, initially quite sedate, becomes accelerated in more of a frame-jumping way than in a considered, suspenseful way. Amidst this comes some of the most shocking revelations. Without some of the missing narrative, there is a real danger of the film being interpreted as perpetuating some of the labels attached to black British youth. Still, this film is certainly a positive advertisement for all of the talent involved: Sanchez Brown as a writer and actor, Daniel Bailey as a film director (he is originally a theatre director), Solomon Israel and Naydene Mills as actors.

There was a post-screening Q&A with all four of the young talents and the audience made great use of the opportunity. Brown is, unsurprisingly, a fan of the psychological thriller genre and used aspects of his own life in the story – the blossoming romance for one. The conversation addressed the continuing phenomenon of black British talent leaving for the USA, not least because Brown himself is leaving to attend film school in LA and Israel intends to follow… once he’s saved enough funds. After he starts to save… Bailey’s ambitions were to accrue enough industry power in the UK in order to employ actors and help stem the flow across the Atlantic.

The audience were enthusiastic, totally engaged and… young. Whilst I completely appreciated the optimism, the enormity of the task ahead for black actors and film makers and even for independent film making worried me a little. Even the setting seemed slightly surreal – Peckhamplex is an independent cinema which charges £4.99 entry (£5.99 for 3D) and has, amongst other things, Watch with Baby mornings on Thursday mornings. Not only independent, but community-spirited also – an almost completely unique phenomenon in itself!

You can find out about any of the mentioned artists and projects by visiting @ldnreignsports @CyrusTrafford @LionHeartfelt @sanchez_brown @NaydeneMills @_SolomonIsrael @DanielLBailey @Peckhamplex @ARoachBridgeman

 

review of  Malachi for the british blacklist by  @DescantDeb

Rickie & Melvin, Tinie Tempah, C4 & More Join Check One Two #FEELINGNUTS Testicular Cancer Campaign

#feelingnuts campaign supporters top: (l-r) Tinie Tempah, Louis Smith, Labrinthbottom: Tyson Beckford, Mo Farah, Melvin Odoom.

#feelingnuts campaign supporters top: (l-r) Tinie Tempah, Louis Smith, Labrinth
bottom: Tyson Beckford, Mo Farah, Melvin Odoom.

Check One Two was founded in 2012 by brothers, Simon and Andrew Salter, who were inspired to make a change after recognising that men are needlessly dying from one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

Simon and Andrew found out that if testicular cancer is caught early, it is 100% curable. However, being blokes themselves, they understood the male attitude towards health and knew that men are all a little too laid back to keep a check on their love grenades…

So, Simon and Andrew started Check One Two, a movement dedicated to changing the behavior of a generation of men, which would do so by reaching two goals:

  1. Spread awareness far and wide of #feelingnuts in funny, ball grabbing and pant dropping ways
  2. Educate men and the women in their lives about how to check their nuts for testicular cancer

Channel 4 has joined forces with the recently created movement Check One Two that to date has proved to be an incredible success. They’re on a mission to get everyone ‘feeling nuts’ and help understand the risks of testicular cancer. The recently commissioned comedy show ‘Feeling Nuts’ will be broadcast in October. It’s set to be an evening full of surprise comedy pairings, some seriously awkward conversations and a host of challenges, whilst encouraging the nation to feel nuts.

That’s where you come in…by simply sharing and tagging your tweets, vine videos, instagram pics, facebook updates and youtube uploads with #feelingnuts, not only will you be joining an incredible social movement, you’ll be helping to spread our message to millions of people and getting everyone checking their knackers!

Best of all, you could become a top campaigner of #feelingnuts by spreading this life saving message and be part of loads of live moments as the movement grows!
So are you #feelingnuts?

To find out more and get involved with the Check One Two #FEELINGNUTS movement go to their website: 

www.checkonetwo.co.uk/

ShakaRa Speaks On it: Boycott the Human Zoo & The POWER! of Black Art

SHAKARA_speaks_on_it

On Saturday 13th September I had the honour of pouring Libation at the Boycott The Human Zoo demonstration which took place at the Barbican. Special shout out to Sara Myers, who gathered the hundreds and amassed 20, 000 signatures (and counting) in protest against what is little more than an insult to the humanity of our ancestors.

For those who may not be aware, “The Human Zoo” is officially entitled ‘Exhibit B’; a so called “art” display conjured up by the mind of White South African, Brett Bailey. It features the bodies of Afrikan men & women in a live art format replicating the actually human zoos that were popular around Europe during the 17-1900s. Though this is the admitted inspiration behind the artist’s choice of exhibit, Mr. Bailey attempts to deny to racial implication of his “art” when attempting to explain its purpose:

Exhibit B protest en route to The Barbican, London

Exhibit B protest en route to The Barbican, London

‘Exhibit B is not a piece about black histories made for white audiences. It is a piece about humanity; about a system of dehumanisation that affects everybody within society, regardless of skin colour, ethnic or cultural background, that scours the humanity from the ‘looker’ and the ‘looked at’ “

So while the piece is not about Black histories, but rather “Humanity… regardless of skin colour” , Exhibit B still manages to feature exclusively Black bodies who will become the viewing pleasure of majority white audiences. This disingenuous explanation becomes ludicrous when it is considered that it would be relatively easy to include many different human bodies “regardless of colour”.

In a classic case of mixed messages, the Barbican explanation reads:

“The piece aims to explore the relationship between Western powers and Africa, ranging from exposing the abhorrent historical attitudes to race during the colonial era to questioning how far our society has moved on by holding up a mirror to contemporary issues…”

Pay attention to the juxtaposition between “Black & White” and “Western powers & Africa” in these quotes; are they seriously attempting to suggest that there is a difference between both dynamics? It would seem so, and there are some among the Black community who would support the “exhibit” and the intentions behind it. For those of you who do, I put it to you that if the dynamic between western powers and Africa were to be truly explored, especially within those same western powers, maybe the use of exclusively white bodies would have had far more value as art and as a social statement.

It continues to amaze me that while discussions of the Maafa (Afrikan Holocaust), that centre on the issues of Reparations continue to be deflected from via tales of Irish, Scots, Romans and others who have no doubt suffered, when engaging slavery purely for the purpose of commentary, white “artists” know how to find exclusively Black bodies.

In a previous ShakaRa Speaks – “Is It Now Time for a Film on The Enslaved Afrikans Who Fought Back?”, I address a point mirroring one made by Akala in relation to “Exhibit B”:

“Perhaps the Barbican would consider an exhibition with live white people used as dummies to pose as the many thousands of slave masters and overseers our ancestors majestically hacked to death during the Haitian Revolution?”

Such an exhibit would have a profound impact on perceptions – which brings me to the essential issue: In my humble opinion the level of debate that takes place among the Black community on issues like this has to do with the extent to which we understand the nature of “White Supremacy”. In this context, demonstrations for me are less an attempt to appeal to Whites in influential position, but rather a tool for appeal and education among ourselves. Quite frankly, what others think of us is irrelevant in the face of what we think of ourselves and how we perceive “exhibits” like the Human Zoo, will inevitably say something about how we see ourselves.

welcome_to_busseywood

In the words of Assata Shakur:

“Nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”

Therefore the idea that you can solve such issues by simply exploring ideas and perceptions of oppressive nations is a farce. Ironically, Brett Bailey’s nation of birth is the classic contemporary example of this. South Afrika is a nation that for the past 20 years has engaged in the biggest international mass media campaign on changing racial perceptions ever in human history. Once the image of racial degradation, the “rainbow nation” is now promoted as an oasis of racial harmony among the many atrocities that take place in the world. In spite of this however, little has changed in the living conditions of Afrikans and the White minority still dominate the land and the economy, reaping the rewards of the rape committed by their enslaver ancestors.

So it is necessary for Black people to overstand, we do not solve issues of White Supremacy by showing white people how wicked they, or their ancestors were. We do not even solve it by getting white people to understand why “The Human Zoo” is wrong. We only solve the problem when we are prepared to address the issue of POWER! As strategic and as effective as boycotts demonstrations and protests can be, in order to address the issue of power it is necessary to move beyond them. The real power lies in our ability to take charge of the narrative by telling our own story through our own art. The absence of that realization is exactly what empowers European “artists” to feel they have the universal right to define when and how Afrikan narratives should be represented.

People who are connected to their history and culture take charge of how it is represented before the world. The art that tells the story of said people is most often developed, defined and projected by them on their own terms, in their own interest. Therefore the rest of the worlds engage with them on those terms, within the parameters that are defined by them. It is therefore necessary for Black people to address the dynamic in which Non-Afrikans are for the most part the conduit through which the stories of the most sensitive aspects of our history are expounded upon.

By way of providing a positive example; The same day as the Boycott the Human Zoo demonstration, TBB’s own Kunga Dread hosted “Welcome to Busseywood”, London’s premier free Afrikan film festival. Among the features at the event was a screening of “Oya: Rise of the Orisha” , Nosa Igbinedion’s creative super hero take on ancient Yoruba spiritual tradition, exploring the relationship of contemporary Afrikans to our ancestors. Also showcasing were the crew of ‘All Knightz’, the UK’s number one Black Comics producers who in ‘Hard Wired’ have developed a futuristic Sci-Fi thriller based around the socio-political realities of the Afrikan continent.

My point is there are many who are creating and showcasing REAL ART that speaks to the Black experience. Such art goes well beyond the bounds of welling up feelings of sorrow for the suffering by our ancestors. It rather honours them by restoring their dignity and providing a new discourse on the possibilities for Afrika’s future, from the perspective of Afrikans ourselves.

For more info on the campaign Visit: http://boycotthumanzoouk.com

 

feature by Tafadzwa ShakaRa Mbandaka /  @ShakaRaBKS for the british blacklist

Nellie Tandoh Speaks to Savannah Gordon–Liburd Lead in Roy Williams’ ‘Antigone’

Savannah Gordon-Liburd in rehearsals of Antigone

Savannah Gordon-Liburd in rehearsals of Antigone

BAFTA award winning playwright Roy Williams brings his adaptation of Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ on a UK tour starting this September 2014, before it returns to Theatre Stratford Royal East in early 2015. Bringing to life this character of a well know Greek classis is Savannah Gordon-Liburd, who we get to talk to about her role, her theatre experiences and what’s next on the agenda…

Could you tell us a little bit about Antigone?

It’s basically a story to do with loyalty, truth, life and death. Antigone’s brother is killed and she wants to bury her brother, but she’s been told she’s not allowed to. So it follows her story of going against everyone to do what she feels is right and that’s when it comes down to family and loyalty.

The original Greek play includes the surrounding themes of incest, loyalty, and conflict, how has this version brought it up to date?

Everything is still in there! There’s still the incest and she gets called inbreed a lot of times. Even though her family are high up in society, everyone is still aware of their secrets. So we haven’t changed the story that much to be honest. It’s really contemporary, but the actual back story remains the same.  The language; the environment and character names have changed. Things like Creo, his names Creon in the original, instead of just being ‘King’, even though we sometimes call him ‘King’ in the play, it’s more like he sort of runs the streets, that type of thing to make it more relevant and more modern.

In regards to the above, how does this play stand out from other versions that have been done?

To be honest, when I first got told about doing this play, I didn’t really know anything about Antigone. As I started researching the story, I think we are probably the first mainly black cast ever! So that’s definitely different. Being the black Antigone, the female lead, that’s definitely a first.

Could you tell us a little about Antigone and how you went about developing her character?

She’s confident, brave, headstrong, but she is still an 18-year-old girl. So it was just about me being able to put myself in that position of thinking about if that was to happen to my brother that died. We do a lot of character improvisations that Marcus [Romer] the director gets us to do. Trying to find our character [be it through], random telephone conversations that we might have  - that you’ll never see in the play,  to help us build our character and who we are; having random conversations with other cast members that I might not even interact with in the actual play. I also watched an old version of Antigone. Doreen Blackstock (who plays Eunice) told me about it. Juliet Stevenson had a version, which I watched on YouTube and that was literally the only one I watched, because I didn’t want to get too influenced by what other actresses were doing. I did find her quite easy to play.

The play is aimed to create an innovative and exciting way for a young theatre audience to enjoy a Greek classic – do you feel that this version will do this?

Yes, definitely! Because even though Antigone is quite dramatic, with a lot of death and crying, we’ve all added so many comedic parts to it. We’ve got really funny characters, such as ‘Soldier 3′ played by Sean Sagar; he’s really funny and brings a lot of comedy to the play. So when there is a death scene, he’ll bounce on stage and make you laugh. Your emotions will be all over the place. I think that will be good for the young people as well as the language, it’s up to date so they’ll understand it more. I know a lot of schools are doing Antigone, so as the old version may be difficult to understand this makes it a lot more simpler to watch, it’s a lot more easier to follow. Instead of King or Queen and this war or that war, we sort of bring it down to maybe gang related violence and people running the streets and a girl getting called a slag because she’s seen as a disgusting inbreed…that type of thing. There are parts that are really, really funny and I think they’ll enjoy. We’ve had a couple of young people come in and watch to study it and everyone has loved it.

antigone

Even though it’s mainly aimed at a younger theatre audience, will older members be able to enjoy as much?

It’s not mainly aimed at anyone to be honest. I think it’ll be interesting to see it being told from a different point of view and in a different way, but you might understand and see the story differently from how you may have read it. I even had a conversation with someone the other day and I said even enough older people find it difficult to read old plays, to understand and grasp the concept of what it’s actually about, so I think it’s interesting if they know the story, to see it being told this way and say ‘oh that’s what it meant!’ or ‘I understand it a bit better now’.

That’s what I find is different about this play, because a lot of the classics do get redone, but they still keep the same language and atmosphere, leaving you still a bit confused…

Exactly! It’s like I didn’t understand it reading it, so why would I understand it on stage! The language is just like how you and me are talking now, so it’s so much easier to follow. The story and the meaning behind it is exactly the same.

What about this play and the character made you want to be a part of it?

Marcus actually approached me ages ago with the idea, because I worked with him in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner in 2012…This would have been my first lead. I thought I definitely want to try it and see how it is, I mean you wouldn’t say no, and to play a female lead and because I knew I would be one of the first black female leads for a play like this and because I loved her character, she’s different and to bring something so old, up to date and to modernise it, I thought it was interesting. I love how strong and how loyal she is, and all the things she has to go through and still be strong, whilst battling [other] emotions as an 18 year-old. Working with Roy [Williams] again, everyone knows Roy; he’s such a good playwright so I couldn’t turn it down.

Apart from being a Greek classic, how has this production differed from others you have been apart of?

This is only my fourth production. My first one was Mogadishu and I did that twice and then the last one was The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, so I don’t have that much to base it off, but Antigone is just not your typical story. The plays I’ve done have always been about strong males, what they have had to go through and their experiences at home. So this one is mostly to do with her as a woman being surrounded by all these strong men and being able to stand up and say what’s right and not care what anyone else is doing. She just goes with her heart and what she knows is right. I’ve always played the lead role’s girlfriend, that’s always been my thing, so for me to actually play the lead female that’s completely different from anything I’ve ever done.

As you mentioned before, you’ve worked with Roy before in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner; what has the experience been like working with him and the rest of the cast this time round?

It’s been great. Three of the cast members are people I worked with on Loneliness…I’m already used to them and how they work. Working with Marcus, we already know how we work together. He allows me to give my opinion and point of view on how things should be done and Roy, he’s really good. With the script, if I don’t understand something or I feel there should be a slight word change, he loves input as well, because then he knows you’re actually really into what you are doing. It’s been easy to work with them, but there was obviously that tiny bit of pressure knowing that they have given me this role and I have worked with them before, so I have to prove to them that they have made the right decision, But then it’s also easy because they know when it comes to show night I’ll be able to do what they want me to do. To work with people you have worked with before, you sort of know their routine and I’m able to stand up and suggest things without feeling like I’m going to get in trouble for it.

Is acting something that you have always wanted to do?

Yes it is. I started doing drama lessons and classes when I was about 5, then I’ve gone to Saturday schools, things like that. I did it at college, got my agent after my last college show and then went into working professionally from then. I haven’t had an interest in anything else. I love animals. I have literally always thought what would I do if I didn’t do this and the only thing that I’m passionate about besides acting, is animals so something like that – God knows! I would probably be saving abused pets.

How has your journey been within the acting industry?

Up and down, because even though I did get my agent straight after college, I didn’t go into doing major work, just a few bits here and there. Then in 2011 when I did Mogadishu at the Royal Exchange and Lyric Hammersmith that’s when things started to go really well for me, like getting to do BBC Dramas and more casting agents and directors knowing who I was. I was getting more auditions and then that’s when I did [Mogadishu] a second year, then got Loneliness, doing this and I’ve done bits of TV in between, but it has been up and down. There are times where you just don’t hear anything for ages and there’s another point where you are constantly out for auditions. It has been all over the place, but I’m hoping once this is done there will be a lot more constant work coming through.

Would you ever consider writing your own production in the near future?

I have thought about it. When I’m on stage, watching directors I think hmm I’d love to do that. I’m not that good at writing! I tried to write something once before and it probably wasn’t that great (laughs). I thought it was great at the time, but I don’t think I have it in me to write. I’ve got the ideas there but to get it down on paper is a bit difficult for me. But I think I would definitely love to direct.

What’s next on the agenda after Antigone?

No idea, because this is such a long process and it doesn’t finish until next year March, I haven’t really been able to book anything. There’s a film coming out that I’m in called Honeytrap, directed by Rebecca Johnson, so I’ve got London Film Festival to look forward to and when the film is released properly in cinemas, which should be early next year, possibly when I’m at Stratford. As it’s such a heavy schedule, you don’t really get any time to yourself, except Saturdays – Mondays; whilst we’re on road we work on Saturdays as well, so it’s actually only Sundays and Mondays off once we’re actually performing. Who knows, hopefully I get loads of good stuff after this.

A Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre & Theatre Royal, Stratford East Production – Antigone starts its UK Tour from 19th September. Please see below for all dates and links to purchase tickets:

 

interview with Savannah Gordon-Liburd written for the british blacklist by @Nellie_Ville

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