Black History Month - YT play suggestions

Wednesday 21 October 2020

For Black History Month, NAYT would like to platform some amazing plays by black authors. These plays have either been written for a Youth Theatre cast, or would be interesting for young people to explore. With a variety of pertinent themes, from science fiction to folktales, from biting realism to twisted absurdism, these writers unpack history, identity, belonging and home. 

We also asked Mojisola Adebayo some questions about her play Wind / Rush Generation(s), a story about the full weight of Britain’s colonial past – in all its gory glory, which you can read here.

If you have any suggestions for plays and writers for a Youth Theatre context, please get in touch: [email protected]


Class 

by Ben Bailey and Lajaune Lincoln

It’s school election time and while most of the school is busy enjoying their lunchbreak, a deadlock is taking place amongst the members of the school council. Bitter rivalries, secret alliances and false promises are laid bare. As a ruthless battle ensues, who will win and does anyone really care? Class is a biting satire reflecting the state of British politics, about who we are online vs in person. It lampoons modern politics, populism and the ‘ping’ of a text message. From National Theatre Connections 2019.


The Sweetness of a Sting 

by Chinonyerem Odimba

Inspired by the fables of West African storytelling, The Sweetness of a Sting uses nature to tell human stories. Badger’s parents decide they want to return to their home country, so he is confronted with the possibility of leaving everything he knows and becoming a visitor in a strange world. Attempting to run away and escape his parents’ plans, Badger finds himself in a world full of insects, stories and Thunder – a land beneath our feet that he cannot escape from. This fantastical, poetic and thrilling story looks at what it means to be young and how we can be disconnected from nature and our identity. From National Theatre Connections 2018. 


Immune 

by Oladipo Agboluaje

An ordinary school day turns into a sci-fi nightmare. The first half introduces a class of bickering young people with all the typical tensions and friendships. However when the class of teenagers find themselves immune to a terrible poison, they must band together to unravel this mystery and tragedy. A provocative and darkly comic play exploring our technological dependency, social resilience and the need to belong. Commissioned by Leeds Playhouse, the Royal & Derngate and Plymouth Theatre Royal.


Ageless 

by Benjamin Kuffuor

In a not too distant future, Temples pharmaceutical corporation has quite literally changed the face of ageing. Their miracle drug keeps its users looking perpetually teenage. With an ever youthful population, how can society support those who are genuinely young? A play which questions what it means to be young and the ways in which generations collide. From National Connections 2019.


Sing Yer Heart Out To The Lads

by Roy Williams

Saturday 7 October 2000. England v Germany, The King George v The Duke of York. Tensions erupt in a South London pub as England lose again. A group of teenager mates celebrate their football team, whilst aggressions are brewed by adults and rival lads. Sing Yer Hearts Out for the Lads explores racial tension against the backdrop of an England football match. The play highlights how a surface acceptance of racial differences is easily destroyed by the sinister infliatration of Far Right ideas into communities. It's a great play which demands questions of belonging and ownership over a football team, and therefore a national identity.


Rockets and Blue Lights

by Winsome Pinnock

Amid the gloom of Victorian England, Thomas, a black sailor prepares to take one last voyage, while an ageing Turner seeks artistic inspiration in a half-remembered story. In 21st-century London, an actress finds herself handcuffed by history - two centuries after abolitionists won her ancestors their freedom. Fusing fact with fiction, past with present, the powerfully personal with the fiercely political, it asks who owns our past - and who has the right to tell its stories?


Misty 

by Arinzé Kene 

An epic journey through the pulsating heart and underground soul of inner-city London. The protagonist Virus charges through the dangers of the city, whilst supporting his sister Tracy with schoolwork. Their story is about the duality of kindness and anger. The play becomes the story of telling stories, with playwright Kene second-guessing his own characters and their arc, and his own real-world friends appearing in the story to challenge his story of 'black trauma'. Misty is an inventive blend of gig theatre, spoken word, live art and direct address, confronting the assumptions and expectations underpinning the act of telling a story.


Take Away 

by Jackie Kay

Take Away tells the story of a town which is in the grip of onions. A bizarre, almost hypnotic, obsession which forces everyone to do whatever they can to get their onions. Darcus, a travelling poet, turns up and offers to rid the town of the onions with his rhymes. The absurdism of onions standing in for a folk-devil epidemic, Darcus offers to remove all the onions, Pied Piper-style. But the local council refuse to pay him in these tight, austere times. It's a darkly comic play full of bizarre lines, satire on 'issue' plays and important ideas of community and paying a price. From National Theatre Connections 2016.