Even though this collection of films is set some decades ago, the stories are as vital and timely today as they were for the West Indian community in London at the time. Small Axe is a celebration of Black joy, beauty, love, friendship, family, music and even food. Each one, in its own unique way, conveys hard-won successes, bringing hope and optimism for 2020. Main image: Patty (Shaniqua Okwok) and Martha (Amarah-Jae St Aubyn. Lovers Rock airs tonight Sunday 22nd …. 9pm BBC One.
Micheal Ward says: “When I discovered Amarah got confirmed for the role, we didn’t hold back. We did our own rehearsals where I went to her house and worked on the scenes. We got to know each other more. I met her family as well who were very much in touch with the themes, music and dancing that is in Lovers Rock and that really helped with understanding the nostalgic element of this story.”
The soundtrack… tunes
McQueen chose to use Silly Games in Lovers Rock but had no idea it would resonate with the cast the way it did in terms of the impromptu a cappella it inspired. Other tunes of note include He’s The Greatest Dancer from Sister Sledge; Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting; and Kunta Kinte by the Revolutionaries. While a chorus of women’s voices gave Silly Games its second life, Kunta Kinte served as a cathartic anthem for many of the men at the party, as they danced and released their frustrations and excitement by yelling and chanting.
“When you get those young Black people in there, and they’re seeing each other, and they’re in an environment that acknowledges them, it just creates an atmosphere of fun,” McQueen says.
“It creates an atmosphere of people talking and being understood. Then it creates an atmosphere where all bets are off. Once you get people who are of the same age, same generation, who acknowledge one another and find themselves in an environment where they’ve been given this platform – a platform they’ve never sort of been in before, a platform where they can shine – they go for it.
“You know what was interesting about this whole thing? The cameras didn’t have to be there. That party would’ve been created by itself without the cameras.”
Who is in the cast:
Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn