15th April 2013
A monthly blog from Havana Wellings-Longmore, Queen of the Universe
I’m a little sad as God's Property has wrapped up and I already miss the cast and crew who always had a smile for me. However, the good news is Talawa has already been approached by venues who would like to have the show in their 2014 programmes. So if for some inexcusable reason, you missed it you can catch it again next year. Keep an eye on our Production page for more details.
Typically Talawa we move straight on to the next one (we coined that phrase way before Jay Z!), and we are preparing simultaneously for Talawa Firsts and TYPT: 13 auditions. I have been given my share of scripts and look forward to reading them over the next couple of weeks.
In my last blog I told you I was off to see several shows and I have to tell you about my favourites:
Whole by 20 Stories High was amazing and I was blown away by the power and depth of the production. The publicity for the show did not prepare me for the explosive content and the award-worthy performances by the young cast. The play explores many things including friendship, sex and sexuality but ultimately it looks at how small, seemingly insignificant actions can cause major ramifications in people’s lives. This show was created for young people yet it presented the teenage issues in such a universal way that I was utterly engaged with the narrative and characters. Definitely a piece that will stay with me for life, as it made me wonder what happened to the ‘Holly’ or ‘Hollys’ of my own school years?
Equal Writes was a night of quality playwriting and outstanding performances to raise awareness of the lack of female diversity on stage and the disparity between the opportunities available in British theatre for male and female practitioners. There are more actors on stage than actresses and playwrights and directors are more likely to be male. Curated by Mandy Fenton, the twelve pieces presented were very diverse from monologues, to two handers and selected scenes. Performed by 22 actresses, an actor, and all directed by six females, together they truly showcased how little variety we see on stage. Equal Writes had a range of women I have never seen on stage; women over 70, a female wheelchair user, a female MI6 agent, and I have never seen a bearded lady! I have to mention a few names; look out for writers – Andrew Curtis, Sumerah Srivastava, Alice Jolly and Emma Wilson. The performances of the night have to go to Poppy Corbett, Mandy Colleran and Yvonne Brewster. Equal Writes made me look at Talawa’s archive and out of 46 productions,16 have been by female writers and 5 of the 16 had male writers credited as well. In stark contrast to this, Talawa has always been led by women and Michael Buffong is the first male Artistic Director. What do you make of that?
This month I’m off to see The First 20 Minutes at Soho Theatre, Take a Deep Breath and Breathe, Ondisting, Around the House and One Act Wonders all part of the Oval House’s 33% London season.
Last month I shared details about the UCL database of Slavery Ownership in Britain, I wanted to explain for those who asked how you can use this to trace your ancestry. If you start with Family Search you can look back as far as the 1830’s for the births, deaths and marriage certificates for most Caribbean islands. However, there are no records available prior to that decade, and if you need earlier records you will have to begin to trace ancestry through the Slave Owners and the records kept by them. This is where the UCL site comes in. For more details on how to trace Caribbean ancestry visit this link.
The other discussion I have been having is about upcoming film Nina; based on the life of Nina Simone and starring Zoe Saldana.
|Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone|
Now, when Denzel Washington was cast as Malcolm X people didn’t question the fact he was much darker than Malcom in real life, and the same goes for Angela Bassett playing Tina Turner. Zoe Saldana is a very talented actress but Nina Simone herself said she would want Whoopi Goldberg to play her if the opportunity arose.
|Nina Simone (left), Whoopi Goldberg (right)|
The issue I have is that Saldana has very dark makeup applied to her skin, (almost blackface) and a fake nose which implies it is vital to the story that her character has African features. So should Hollywood have made more effort to find a young, talented Whoopi lookalike (India Arie?) or take a talented actress with box office pulling power regardless of her appearance and features?
On a lighter note, this month I’ve been listening to British artists Native Sun and French rapper Pumpkin check out Legacy by Native Sun and Silence the Radio by Pumpkin.
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