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Belgrade Theatre to Stage Fifth New Black Showcase

DIVERSITY: Belgrade Theatre presents the New Black Showcase

THE BELGRADE Theatre is preparing to present its fifth New Black Showcase, giving audiences a chance to hear stories from the most exciting new writers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. Four new plays will be showcased across three nights from Weds 1 – Fri 3 November, as script-in-hand readings by a professional company of actors in the theatre’s B2 auditorium.

The showcase draws upon the success of the Belgrade’s biennial Critical Mass programme, developed by Royal Court Theatre Associate, Ola Animashawun. Approaching its sixth year, the Belgrade continues to support the development of writers from the region’s diverse communities by offering twenty BAME playwrights the chance to hone their skills on a 10-week script-writing course. This year’s New Black Showcase will present work developed on this course, written by Critical Mass graduates Erinn Dhesi and Angela McNab.

It will additionally showcase a pair of extracts performed by futuretheatre, an emerging company aiding the development of existing and emerging diverse voices. futuretheatre is led by actor and emerging producer Toyin Omari-Kinch and director and applied theatre practitioner Jouvan Fucinni.

For the playwrights, it will be a chance to hear their words performed for the first time. For audiences, this is a chance to discover new and unique stories from the best emerging writing talent from the Midlands.

On November 1 at 6pm, audiences can sample Erinn Dhesi’s play, #ADJUSTMENT, directed by Hannah Barker. Mother and Bibi speak Punjabi. Miah and Roma speak Emoji. As phone calls and texts flood the home, can the family figure out what happened to Miah?

This is followed by The Merchant of Port Royal on Thurs 2 Nov at 6pm, written by Angela McNab and directed by the Belgrade’s Associate Director, Justine Themen. Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is given a Caribbean twist as Maroon rebel Accompong attempts to woo the Queen of Blue Mountain whilst Chief Cudjoe makes a deal with an infamous Jewish trader.

futuretheatre will be taking over the B2 stage for the final performance on Fri 3 Nov with two new works in progress directed by Jouvan Fucinni.

Invisible by Daniel Anderson is set in a new super max prison in Birmingham 2025, where an Artificial Intelligence known as the Guv’nor sees to all prisoner needs, maintains order and deals justice. When Pastor Richards sees the mistreatment of prisoners by a machine, his conscience demands he act in their defence. But in a Britain fearful of revolutionaries after a failed coup, political dissent is the quickest way to put a mark on your back, even for a man of God.

Ninety Days by Ashok Patel will transport audiences to 1972, Uganda, in a tense new drama about family, fear and nationalism. The Mavani family and their live-in workers, the Zulukas, have lived in harmony for a generation. When President Idi Amin decrees the expulsion of all Asian Ugandans within 90 days, loyalties are tested and power shifts.

The Belgrade Theatre’s Associate Director, Justine Themen said, “We’re very excited to present our fifth New Black Showcase, offering new writers from diverse backgrounds a platform for their voices to be heard and to share stories that bear witness to their experiences.

Our Critical Mass programme has spawned many great writers over the years, including Liz Mytton, whose play Red Snapper went on to be professionally staged in a full scale production here at the Belgrade. This is an opportunity for audiences to experience the freshest new writing talent to emerge out of that programme and enjoy an evening of fantastic storytelling.”

futuretheatre’s Toyin Omari-Kinch and Jouvan Fucinni added, “Without these opportunities to hear their words out loud, it’s challenging for writers from BAME backgrounds to present their work on a mainstream platform. It’s an honour for us at futuretheatre to be presenting new work as part of the fantastic celebration of new playwriting that is the New Black Showcase.”

New Black Showcase runs on the B2 Stage from Weds 1 to Fri 3 Nov at 6pm. Tickets are ‘Pay What You Can’ and are available now by calling the Belgrade Box Office on 024 7655 3055

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