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Nickcolia King-N'da, Natalie Simpson and Toyin Omari-Kinch (Photo credit: Shaun Webb Design)

London Theatre News Today: Thursday 29 April

Published 29 April 2021

Hampstead Theatre announces cast for Alfred Fagon’s The Death Of A Black Man

Hampstead Theatre is delighted to announce the cast for Alfred Fagon’s darkly compelling, The Death of a Black Man, directed by Dawn Walton, former Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre Company, from 28 May until 10 July 2021.

Nickcolia King-N’da, Natalie Simpson and Toyin Omari-Kinch will perform in this new production which originally premiered at the theatre in 1975. 46 years on, this rare revival from the Black British playwriting canon, raises many of the same questions we face today surrounding identity, capitalism and sexual politics.

Nickcolia King-N’da will play the role of Shakie.  King-N’da will be making his debut at Hampstead Theatre.  Recent stage credits include, Venice Preserved (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2019), The Provoked Wife (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2019), Astley’s Astounding Adventures (New Vic Theatre, 2018) and the lead role in Peter Pan (Park Theatre, 2018).

Natalie Simpson will play the role of Jackie.  Simpson will be making her debut at Hampstead Theatre.  TV roles include Phaedre in Outlander Season 4 (Sony Pictures Television/Left Bank Pictures, 2018) and Sister Simplice in the BBC’s mini-series of Les Misérables (2019).  Recent theatre roles include Nne Chukwu in Three Sisters (National Theatre/Fuel, 2020), Thea Tesman in Hedda Tesman (Headlong/Chichester Festival Theatre/The Lowry, 2019), Blodwynn in Boudica (Shakespeare’s Globe, 2017) and Ophelia in Hamlet (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2016).

Toyin Omari-Kinch will play the role of Stumpie.  Omari-Kinch will also be making his debut at Hampstead Theatre.  Recent stage credits include On the Other Hand, We’re Happy, Daughterhood and Dexter and Winter’s Detective Agency (Paines Plough’s 2019 Roundabout Season), War Horse (National Theatre’s 10th Anniversary UK and Ireland tour, 2018-19) and Dunsinane (National Theatre of Scotland/Royal Shakespeare Company, 2015).

The Death of a Black Man will be Dawn Walton’s directorial debut at Hampstead Theatre.  Her most recent productions include The Gift (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Red Dust Road (National Theatre of Scotland) and Black Men Walking (Royal Court).  She will be joined by designer Simon Kenny, lighting designer Johanna Town, sound designer Richard Hammarton, composer Duramaney Kamara,  Movement Director Rachael Nanyonjo, Assistant Director Nkechinyere Nwobani-Akanwo and Voice and Dialect Coach Hazel Holder.

At least I am my own boss. No regrets. I choose what I do. I am lucky.

It’s 1973 and the West Indies have spectacularly beaten England at their own game, in their own backyard.

Shakie, an 18-year old super-savvy wheeler-dealer, is in his element – and not just because of the cricket.  Life is good: his furniture business is making serious money and he owns a flat on the King’s Road, the epicentre of everything that’s cool.  Moreover, his best friend Stumpie has come up with a plan to crack the booming music industry together – the possibilities are endless so when Shakie’s ex-lover Jackie arrives at the Chelsea flat, the trio toast the future.

The champagne is flowing and ambition is running sky high – but how far will they go, and who will they sacrifice, in their quest to be rich beyond their wildest dreams

The Death of a Black Man first premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 1975 directed by Roland Rees.  This rarely produced play by one of Britain’s leading black voices from the 20th century remains compelling viewing 46 years on.  Fagon was one of the first British black writers to have his work produced in the UK and a hugely influential playwright.  He arrived in Nottingham from Jamaica, joined the army and was also a boxing champion and a welder, before becoming a very successful actor, poet and playwright.  He died at the early age of 49 (1986) and was controversially buried in a pauper’s grave when police claimed they could not identify him.  The Alfred Fagon Award is the leading theatre award for black British writers, set up after his sudden death in 1986, which has supported unique voices within the UK theatre industry.  Other plays by Alfred Fagon include 11 Josephine House and Lonely Cowboy.


Full cast announced for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella

The Really Useful Group is thrilled to announce the full cast for the forthcoming, World Premiere production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book by Academy Award winning Emerald Fennell (Best Original Screenplay Oscar at last Sunday’s ceremony) and lyrics from David Zippel. The brand new musical will open at the Gillian Lynne Theatre on Wednesday 14 July 2021, with previews from Friday 25 June 2021.

Joining the previously announced cast will be Rebecca Trehearn, who will play The Queen, Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin, as Cinderella’s stepsisters Marie and Adele and Gloria Onitiri, who will play The Godmother.

They join Carrie Hope Fletcher, as title character Cinderella in the highly anticipated new production, as well as Ivano Turco as Prince Sebastian and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt playing The Stepmother.

Click here to read the full story and grab your tickets below.

For One Knight Only to be rescreened in aid of The Royal Theatrical Fund

Following the success of the live Q&A in November 2020 which raised over £300,000 for Acting for Others, Lockdown Theatre today announces they will be rescreening For One Knight Only in aid of the Royal Theatrical Fund and partner organisation, the Fleabag Support Fund. Featuring an introduction from the RTF Chairwoman Samantha Bond and RTF President Robert Lindsay, the intimate Q&A stars British acting legends Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Maggie Smith hosted by Sir Kenneth Branagh.

The special evening of intimate conversation sees the acting stars discuss their careers, inspirations, and share tales about their time in the business.

The Q&A will be streamed 21 – 23 May at 7pm, and is available for on demand viewing from 28 – 31 May. Tickets are £25 and can be purchased via www.stream.theatre/season/116

In addition, there will be one, For One Knight Only poster, signed by the cast, auctioned via The Royal Theatrical Fund’s eBay: www.ebay.co.uk/usr/theroyal1853. Auction ends 31 May 2021.

All proceeds will be donated to theatrical charity The Royal Theatrical Fund, providing financial support to all those who work in the entertainment business that are ill, injured, or unable to work in their later years, as well as to help those affected by the pandemic through partner organisation, the Fleabag Support Fund.

Lockdown Theatre is a quarantine initiative set up to present exclusive live table reads with all-star casts, raising money to support the Royal Theatrical Fund. In addition to For One Knight Only, previous events have included Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, NoëI Coward’s Private Lives and Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, with actors including Sanjeev Bhaskar, Emilia Clarke, Robert Lindsay, Joanna Lumley, Michael Palin, Jennifer Saunders and Emma Thompson, raising over £112,000 for those in need.

Donations to The Royal Theatrical Fund can be made here: www.justgiving.com/trtf

To enjoy more theatre online, head over to our online calendar to see what’s on.


Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme announced

Mustapha Matura (Photo credit: Richard H Smith)

Characterised by critic Michael Billington of The Guardian as “a pioneering black playwright who opened the doors for his successors,” Mustapha Matura, who died in October 2019, was described by the New Statesman as “the most perceptive and humane of Black dramatists writing in Britain.”

After his London debut play at the ICA with Black Pieces in 1970, for the next forty years hardly a year went by without Mustapha’s work being seen in this country or internationally. His plays were staged at the Tricycle, Hampstead Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, the Bush, Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh among many others as well as on BBC Radio and TV and on ITV. Internationally, his plays were produced at the Lincoln Center in New York, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and the Arena Stage in Washington, DC.

Play Mas, which opened at the Royal Court in 1974, made Mustapha the first Black British-based playwright to have a play in London’s West End; it won the Evening Standard Award for the most promising playwright. Many other awards followed.

In 1991 Matura was the first Caribbean playwright to be produced at the National Theatre with The Coup. Mustapha’s writing not only dealt with the issues of post- colonialism in his native Trinidad and the Caribbean and amongst the Windrush generation who came to Britain, but also led the way in exploring the challenges facing the second generation living in Britain in Welcome Home Jacko and television series No Problem!.

In recognition of Mustapha’s contribution to bringing the stories of the Caribbean diaspora to the stage and opening doors for successive Black British playwrights, he was awarded the Alfred Fagon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Writing in 2014.

The Alfred Fagon Award has been working with the Estate of Mustapha Matura to create a lasting legacy to Mustapha and we are delighted to announce an exciting new competition – the Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme. The competition is open to any new emerging, young black playwright of Caribbean and African descendant up to the age of 25 and includes a cash prize of £3,000 and a nine-month mentoring programme with a leading Black British playwright.

The establishment of the Mustapha Matura Award provides a final link in a chain which includes Roland Rees Bursary and Alfred Fagon Award. Roland Rees staged Mustapha’s very first plays and

Mustapha encouraged Alfred Fagon to begin writing plays and helped to found the creation of the Alfred Fagon Award.

Mustapha’s wife Ingrid Selberg said, “Mustapha’s sudden death was a great loss and it is very important to us that Mustapha’s name is being carried forward in such a lasting and meaningful way and one that will provide opportunities to young, gifted black playwrights of the future. Mustapha loved working with and encouraging young people to achieve their dreams and he would be honoured and delighted by this Award.”

James St. Ville, Chair of the Trustees said, “The Alfred Fagon Award is proud to be launching the Mustapha Matura Award and Mentoring Programme as part of its 25th anniversary. It is important to keep what we do vital, accessible and relevant. This new award and its approach to building links in the theatre industry through mentoring is an expression of confidence in and support for the power of new and young writers. It is an important addition to all we are trying to do.”

Entries will open on Tuesday, 4th May and close on Friday, 30 July 2021. Full entry details will be on www.alfredfagonaward.co.uk on 4th May.

The winner of the award and mentoring programme will be announced by Ingrid Selberg, wife of the late Mustapha Matura, at The Alfred Fagon Award ceremony.


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