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.
Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive of Hampstead Theatre said:
Fagon was one of the leading, black writers of his generation and Hampstead Theatre was very fortunate to have produced The Death of a Black Man during Alfred’s too short lifetime. I can’t wait to welcome this young company to Hampstead Theatre to finally see this powerful play performed.
Dawn Walton, Director of The Death of a Black Man said:
I am very much looking forward to getting back to work and into rehearsals with this talented group of artists. The 1970s was the inception of Black British Theatre and Alfred Fagon was instrumental in this movement, giving voice to Black people’s stories. We can’t wait to explore The Death of a Black Man and introduce Fagon to a 21st century audience.
Hampstead Downstairs will also reopen this summer with the world premiere of Raya, a funny and tender new play by Deborah Bruce from 11 June until 24 July. Directed by Roxana Silbert, Raya will be Silbert’s second production at Hampstead Theatre since joining as its Artistic-Director in 2019, following the critically-acclaimed espionage thriller The Haystack by Al Blyth in 2020.
Both productions will be staged with social distancing in place for the duration of their runs. In the event of the productions being postponed due to UK Government advice, full refunds or credit vouchers will be offered.