My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid)
Co-curated by writer Rachel De-Lahay and director Milli Bhatia
Royal Court at Home: 13th – 17th July 2020
Performance time: 6:30pm
Running time: 105 mins approx
Age guidance 16+ Tickets: £12 (standard price)
There are also £5 tickets for those less able to pay at this current time.
Half of the tickets for every performance will be available for free through the Black Ticket Project.
This work includes racist language, including the N word; other strong language; and references to violence, including sexual violence and police brutality.
****4 Review Mark Courtice 16th July 2020
This festival deals directly with one of the most urgent and important issues of our time. Three letters are read to the audience and each evening they’re different; one is pre-recorded and the others read by actors who have never seen them before. Each of them has not been sent and is written to an unnamed recipient. The evening I saw the first was the most political but felt personal, the others dealt up close and personal with how the relationship between white and Black, even when people love each other, goes wrong. In this riveting, important and alarming evening the personal is political.
A host of top writers have created work to be read by some very good actors. The writing is often bitter, angry and unforgiving and you understand that this isn’t something that could be said face to face.
For years (despite inclusive rhetoric) theatre has failed to make space for Black voices to be heard, Black actors to be seen, and Black people given power and these plays do something to redress the balance. Hard things are said – so even the Royal Court (which is doing better than most) is told it’s not doing well enough. The American Theatre industry has been challenged by similar truth-telling in a manifesto which in 29 pages presents closely argued, bluntly spoken, minutely thought through challenges to white Theatre, (read all Theatre). You can read it here.
For lockdown this is done on Zoom. The night I saw was bedevilled by technical problems; the notion of asking actors to read stuff they’ve never seen before doesn’t make it read better; and DJ DLK sounded dreadful. None of this matters because what does matter is that we’ve got to understand as audiences, friends, institutions (theatres) that things must change.
Co-curator (Writer): Rachel De-Lahay
Co-curator (Director): Milli Bhatia
Producer: Tobi Kyeremateng
Stage Manager: Sylvia Darkwa-Ohemeng
Supported by the Royal Court Theatre
Writers include Amma Asante, Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Ryan Calais Cameron, Clint Dyer, Afua Hirsch, Yasmin Joseph, Tife Kusoro, Lettie Precious, Campbell X and Rachael Young.
Performers include Adelayo Adedayo, Ines De Clercq, Anne-Marie Duff, Paapa Essiedu, Martina Laird, Alex Lawther, Neil Maskell, Sinead Matthews, Lucian Msamati, Rosamund Pike and Danielle Vitalis.
Photo Helen Murray