The holidays are over, but winter is still here! Grab a blanket, brew some tea and warm up to works by some of our favorite British playwrights. These are just a few of the authors that continue to push limits on what it means to be Black in Great Britain.
1. Bola Agbaje
Actress, playwright and comedienne Bola Agbaje’s debut play, Gone too Far, debuted at London’s Royal Court Theater in 2007. After receiving several awards for this dramatic depiction of the Black experience in London, which she later adapted to a feature length film that premiered at London’s 2013 BFI Film Festival. Agbaje has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2008 Lawrence Oliver Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliated Theater.
Agbaje’s more recent works include Off the Endz and Belong, as well as Snapped the Movie, the UK’s first Snapchat film. You can keep up with Bola on Twitter at @bolaagbaje and on Youtube at 2Far Media.
2. Mojisola Adebayo
Mojisola Adebayo is a British born Nigerian-Danish playwright, actor and theater director. She has performed and directed plays at theaters throughout the world in places including Brazil, South Africa, Botswana and India, where she founded the VIDYA theater company in the slums of Ahmedabad. Several of her works such as Desert Boy and Muhammad Ali and Me feature young children and their struggle for identity and survival. Mojisola refers to her powerful pieces as reflections of “identity, personal and social change”. Her book, Plays One, is a compilation of her plays thus far.
3. debbie tucker green
Award-winning playwright debbie tucker green made her debut in 2003 with Dirty Butterfly which premiered at London’s Soho Theater in the same year. She has since written several plays and is known for her provocative and emotionally charged works. tucker’s latest, Stoning Mary, tells one family’s story of dealing with HIV. In contrast to popular depictions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the play’s characters are white. When discussing this decision, tucker says “I was interested in questioning what we don’t see and hear. The stories of people who would be in the headlines every day if what was happening to them was happening to white people.” Stoning Mary, Dirty Butterfly and more of tucker’s plays are available for purchase online.
4. Roy Williams
Actor, playwright and screenwriter Roy Williams grew up in west London, the son of Jamaican parents. He has won several awards for his collection of over one dozen plays. The latest of which, Soul, tells the story of the late Marvin Gaye’s last days. Much of Williams’ work highlights the socio-political state of Black Britons and the complex relationships between fathers and sons, which Williams states comes from not having met his own father until the age of thirty-nine. Williams’s popular work includes 2015’s Sucker Punch and 2003’s Fallout.
5. Mustapha Matura
Trinidadian-born Mustapha Matura relocated to Britain in 1962, at the age of 21. Matura is known for his writing on the Trinidadian experience in Britain, highlighting the nostalgia for home that many British-Trinidadian feel. When speaking of his work and its impact, Matura notes, “I think it’s my way of dealing with homesickness. It’s my way of connecting with Trinidad is writing about it. I can sit down in London and conjure memories of Trinidad and my childhood there.” Some of Mustapha Matura’s most popular plays include Rum and Coca Cola, Playboy of the Western Indies and Play Mas.
Who are some of your favourite black British playwrights? Share with us in the comments section!