Thursday, 4 September 2014

First play produced professionally by an African American woman to receive European premiere

It has been announced that Rachel will receive its European premiere at the Finborough Theatre. 

Rediscovered by the Finborough Theatre's Artistic Director Neil McPherson, Rachel is a "genuinely lost landmark of American theatre" - the first play by an African American woman ever produced professionally. 

Angelina Weld Grimk√©'s play runs between Tuesday 30th September and Saturday 25th October 2014. It is directed by young director Ola Ince as part of Black History Month. Rachel has design by Alex Marker, lighting by Elliot Griggs, costume by Anna Lewis and sound by Max Pappenheim.

The full cast includes: Adelayo Adedayo (Rachel Loving), Sheila Atim (Mrs Lane), Miquel Brown (Mrs Loving), Nakay Kpaka (Tom Loving), Zephryn Taitte (John Strong), Kaylah Black (Ethel Lane), Lexyn Boahen (Ethel Lane), Joel McDermott (Jimmy Mason) and William Wright-Neblett (Jimmy Mason).

Rachel is a young, educated, middle-class woman. But she is born into an African-American family in the early 20th century – a world in which ignorance and violence prevail.

While her family and neighbours find different ways to survive, Rachel's dreams of getting married and becoming a mother collide with the tragic events of her family’s past as she confronts the harsh reality of a racist world.

Written exactly midway between the American Civil War and the end of slavery, and the explosion of Civil Rights in the 1960s, this hauntingly beautiful and profoundly shocking play still asks urgent questions for today.

Rachel was first produced by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1916 in Washington, D.C., and subsequently at the Neighborhood Theater, New York City, and in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an all-black cast. Leading African-American historian Alain Leroy Locke said of Rachel that it was "the first successful drama written by a Negro and interpreted by Negro actors."

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