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Black Heroes of Kent premier this weekend

SEMINAL: The dramatised showcase of black figures opens this weekend

MEDWAY AFRICAN and Caribbean Association (MACA) will premier their first major event under the Black History Live initiative, made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.

Black Heroes of Kent is a dramatisation of black life in Kent during the 19th and 20th century. This is a landmark theatrical production, a world premiere, and the first of its type to be staged in Kent.

The Black History Live project was awarded a National Lottery grant of £67,700 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2016 to capture and tell the story of African and Caribbean people in Kent and Medway from the 16th to the 19th century.

Carol Stewart, Chair of MACA, said:

“The cast made up of local people, some professional actors from outside of Kent have been in rehearsals for the past six weeks and are really looking forward to the show this weekend. All of us have learnt so much about our local heritage, people who we didn't know existed. We even have a great-great-grandson of one of the characters we are portraying attending the show.

"JD has written, produced and directed a great show, which is a fascinating insight into the black history of Kent. We have a number of celebrities who will be in attendance at the show, who are keen to see this performance! JD Douglas is the writer and co-producer of the West End hit, Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame, and his other seminal works include JA Story - The History of Jamaica Musical.

Discussing the world premiere of Black Heroes of Kent this Saturday (October 7), he said:

“First, the show is an examination and exploration of black lives in Kent during the 19th and 20th century. At that time the northern borders of Kent reached the Thames, and included Greenwich, Plumstead and Woolwich.

“The historical and geographical canvas covers the overly-accomplished Ignatius Sancho. He was a noted composer, civilian servant and businessman. He also wrote intelligently about the conditions of slavery and the abolition movement. Because he owned property he is credited as being the first black man to vote in England. Remarkable.

"For one night we reclaim two centuries of history on behalf of Kent as well. A theatrical production is the ideal medium for such an endeavour.

ROYALTY: Actresses as Queen Victoria (left) and her Goddaughter Sarah Forbes

"Noted historical characters including Chatham-born Chartist, William Cuffay and Sarah Forbes Bonetta, the young African girl who was sent to be educated in Palm Cottage Gillingham by her Godmother, Queen Victoria. Footballer and World War One hero Walter Tull gets his obligatory acknowledgement. They and a host of others make entrances in Black Heroes of Kent.

BACK TO LIFE: An actress depicts a young Sarah Forbes

“I want people from all over Kent to be cognisant of the fact that our narrative covers the entire county. This is their story, their history, their celebration.”

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