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Certain Blacks: Harlem arts festival heads to east London

TOP TRUMPS: Byron Wallen

CERTAIN BLACKS: Harlem is a festival of new performance and theatre inspired by the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s – a time when new black theatre, literature, music and arts found its own unique voice within American culture.

The festival is run by Certain Blacks, an organisation which supports diversity in the arts and launched in 2016 with Certain Blacks: Art Ensemble.

Once again, Certain Blacks: Harlem takes place at the Rich Mix, London from September 7-10 this year.


Byron Wallen’s Indigo plus Addictive TV – Thursday September 7, 7.30pm

Winner of the BBC’s Innovation in Jazz award, Byron Wallen and his band Indigo perform music written for the centenary celebration of the leading light of the Harlem Renaissance, the revered American poet Langston Hughes, in a work originally commissioned by the Southbank Centre for the Poetry International Festival. The evening includes VJs Addictive TV presenting its new album, Orchestra of Samples.

Shabnam Shabazi: Body House (vers.iii) – Friday September 8, 7.30pm

Working with body casting, video mapping and spoken word, performance artist Shabnam Shabazi presents a reworking of Body House, commissioned by Certain Blacks. Shabazi says: “The provocation for Body House (vers.iii) is exile and displacement. The exile is never too dependent on permanence and knows everything is provisional. Unstable, shifting: to exist in more than one location, to exist in more than one place, forever moving, always walking...”

Lyrix Organix: Unfold – Saturday September 9, 8pm

Lyrix Organix presents its renowned UnFold live show that has entertained audiences at The Roundhouse and at the Brighton Festival, at the invitation of guest director Kate Tempest. UnFold champions exciting young poets, inviting them to collaborate exclusively with Lyrix Organix’s string section, live band and visual artists. This one-off show stars Laurie Ogden, Sophia Thakur plus special guests.

Fancy Chance: Flight of Fancy - Sunday September 10, 5pm

Cabaret queen, circus performer and former Alternative Miss World, Fancy Chance AKA Veronica Thompson brings her autobiographical solo show Flight of Fancy to Certain Blacks as part of her national tour. This globe-trotting, time-travelling mini-spectacle takes audiences from the performer’s humble origins as a Korean refugee to her former home town of Seattle, then to east London where she made her name as a prolific cabaret artist. A multi-faceted work incorporating performance, film and music, Flights of Fancy is both intimate and highly topical.

Crying in the Wilderness: Invisible Man – Sunday September 10, 7.30pm

Commissioned by Certain Blacks with a new live score from Byron Wallen, theatre company Crying in the Wilderness' Invisible Man is a play based on Ralph Ellison’s seminal novel about African American identity, Invisible Man, first published in 1957. Starring George Eggay (King Lear, Old Vic, 2016), this adaptation for stage is set to go beyond portraying the experiences of an individual, tapping into a shared human condition that speaks directly to us in the times we inhabit. Directed by Paul Anthony Morris. Dramaturg is Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE who will lead a post-show discussion on the night.

Rich Mix can be found at 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA. Call 020 7613 7498. For more information on the venue, visit: For more information on Certain Blacks, visit:

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