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THEATRE PECKHAM PRESENTS …cake by Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020 finalist babirye bukilwa

THEATRE PECKHAM PRESENTS …cake by Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020 finalist babirye bukilwa

Theatre Peckham, an award-winning cultural venue in the heart of South-East London announces the premiere of …cake, a psychological drama which unapologetically queers the existing complexities of family, roots and belonging; where power and duty dance in equal measure.

Written by Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020 finalist, actor and poet babirye bukilwa, …cakeforms part of a trilogy of plays and is a prequel to bukilwa’s acclaimed …blackbird hour (also shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting 2019 and Alfred Fagon Award 2020). A first for the venue, this piece of new writing will be produced in-house, with the drama premiering as a fully staged production at Theatre Peckham across 4 weeks from the 13 July until 7 August.

bukilwa, who completed the play during the pandemic, says they wanted to write a story through a Black queer femme lens that interrogates the meaning and function of love and self-worth in an exploitative climate of working-class London in the noughties. At its heart, the play examines performativity in relationships and how generational trauma can be inherited.

Danielle Kassarate (The Color Purple, LEICESTER CURVE/BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME; Guys & Dolls, ROYAL EXCHANGE; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, GIELGUD THEATRE/INTERNATIONAL TOUR) and Donna Banya (Fairview, YOUNG VIC; NOTTINGHAM PLAYHOUSE; RSC) have been cast in the roles and will be directed by Theatre Peckham’s associate director malakaï sargeant.

malakaï sargeant says: “My whole soul wept when I first watched …blackbird hour; to be able to revisit Eshe’s story in …cake, the second part of babirye’s trilogy, and bring it alive is nothing short of an honour.  All of our creative team are Black, with the majority of them also being queer, and I hope this will enable us to truly create authentically – without compromise or justifying ourselves and share this hauntingly honest story with the world.”

…cake forms part of Suzann McLean, Theatre Peckham’s Artistic Director’s re-opening programme which champions the work of creatives from socially and culturally unique walks of life and challenges existing structures to support the growth of a representative sector.  

McLean says: “babirye’s writing is innovative and pushes the boundaries of form. Providing a safe space and a platform to thrive stays true to the mission of Theatre Peckham. This is a vital and bold new play which honours intersectionality and re-centres voices which will connect not only with our local community but with audiences London-wide.”

…cake will be the first of two of bukilwa’s plays being performed as fully staged productions this summer, the second has yet to be announced.

Theatre Peckham is an award-winning cultural venue for artistic excellence and social change. It’s also home to world class creative learning and performance, providing a talent pool for the creative industries. 


Danielle Kassarate plays Sissy

Donna Banya plays Eshe

Creative team

babirye bukilwa – writer (they/them/she/her; lowercase for name)

malakaï sargeant – director (they/them; lowercase for name)

Xana – sound designer (no pronouns: name only)

Kayode Gomez – associate sound designer (they/them/he/him)

Luke Goodlitt – lighting designer (he/him)

Debbie Duru – set and costume designer (she/her)

Rema Kahsay – design associate (she/her)

Phyllys Egharevba – stage manager (she/her)

Ina Miller – production manager (she/her)

Sarudzayi Marufu – producer (she/her)

Photography credit: Jennie Scott

Listings information:

Dates: 13 July – 7 August. (Tues, Wed, Fri, 7.30pm) (Thurs 2.30pm & 7.30pm) (Sat 2.30pm & 7pm). Please see website for further details.

Tickets: From £10. Theatre Peckham is Covid-secure and is following government guidance for live arts events.

Booking Link: 

Venue: Theatre Peckham, 221 Havil Street, London, SE5 7SB

Box Office: Tel: 0207 708 5401. Online:

Age guidance: 14+

Cast biographies

Danielle Kassarate

See Also

Theatre credits include: Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time ( The Gielgud Theatre and the International Tour) The Color Purple (Birmingham Hippodrome, Leicester Curve ) The Color Purple – At HomeMacbeth (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch). Wildfire (Hampstead Theatre); Guys and Dolls (The Royal Exchange Theatre); Little Shop of Horrors (Theatre Clwyd). One Hundred Trillion (The Old Vic Workrooms); Blues and Soul (European Tour and Dusty at Charing Cross Theatre).

Donna Banya

Theatre credits include: Fairview (Young Vic); Enemy of the People (Nottingham Playhouse); Macbeth (RSC); Romeo & Juliet (RSC); Always Orange (RSC); Fall Of A Kingdom, Rise Of The Foot Soldier ( RSC); Homegrown (Site specific).

About babirye bukilwa

Born and raised in pre-gentrified Bethnal Green, babirye doesn’t shy away from their lower working class upbringing. Their work interrogates Queer Black femme navigation with nuance, bite and flare. Currently on the Soho Theatre’s writers lab course for 2020/21. Their debut play …blackbird hour was seed commissioned by Talawa Theatre Company and shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2019 (from over five thousand scripts nationwide). …blackbird hour was also a finalist for the inaugural Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020 and shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award 2020. babirye was invited to participate in the Introduction to Playwriting course at the Royal Court Theatre in 2019.

babirye was invited to join the BBC London Writers’ Room 2018 and their script, The Coven, was longlisted for the BBC’s Drama room. babirye’s poetry has been featured and published in SISTA! (Team Angelica Productions), The Colour of Madness Anthology: Exploring BAME Mental Health and Sweet Thang Magazine. Babirye’s first audio play Water produced by Small Truth Theatre directed by Miranda Cromwell has been awarded an Off-West-End award.

Acting credits include: Ackee and Saltfish, Random, Babylon, Fourteen Fractures, Our girl.
You can currently watch babirye in: Dreaming Whilst Black seen on BBC iplayer and as series regular in BBC Studios We Hunt Together for Showtime/Alibi UKTV.

About malakaï sargeant (Associate Director) pronouns they/them

malakaï is a writer, theatre director, cultural producer and consultant from pre-gentrified Hackney. Led by curiosity and care, malakaï creates and interrogates through an unapologetically Afrocentric lens. Their work explores queer intimacy, generational/migrational trauma, inner-city social cleansing, and unearthing Black Joy in dense built environments. malakaï co-founded and was artistic director of The S+K Project, a producing theatre company specialising in nurturing emerging Black & Asian artists. A Barbican Young Poets alumnus, they are currently co-director of literary arts organisation BORN::FREE and remains passionate about expanding the canon of Black British writing across its forms.

Directing credits include: Palm as Portal (Theatre Peckham), Do Nitties Live Forever? (Battersea Arts Centre), Over to You (Tamasha/Rich Mix), VOID (The S+K Project/Battersea Arts Centre), I Am Not A _____, (Immediate Theatre/Chat’s Palace), Platform Tottenham (The S+K Project/Royal Court Theatre/Bernie Grant Arts Centre). Associate/assistant director: Foxes directed by James Hillier (Defibrillator Theatre/Theatre503), CALM directed by Stella Odunlami (Hackney Empire) and Decolonising History, directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike (Tamasha/SOAS).

About Debbie Duru

Debbie Duru is a designer for performance spaces. Her recent work includes set & costume designer for Josephine (Theatre Royal Bath), Designer as part of the design collective for the Living Newspaper (Royal Court theatre) and Associate Set designer for Dick Whittington (National theatre). She is currently the Associate Set designer for Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley musical at the Lyric theatre. 

About Suzann McLean (Artistic Director)

Suzann joined Theatre Peckham as CEO/Artistic Director in September 2018. An award-winning actress, Associate Artist at York Theatre Royal and founder of Young and Talented school of Stage and Screen. In 2008 Suzann directed the innovative live-streamed theatre production, This Child. Other directing credits include Driving Miss Daisy (York Theatre Royal), Robin Hood (Theatre Peckham), Extremism (Dorfman Theatre revived at Theatre Peckham in 2019) and Catcher (Pilot Theatre). As an actress Suzann has worked extensively on both stage and screen, credits include Pennyworth, Good Omens, The Honourable Woman, Dr. Who, Little Miss Jocelyn, Measure For Measure (National Theatre), A Raisin in the Sun (Synergy Theatre), Dog Beneath the Skin (Jermyn Street Theatre) and Winner of British Arrows Gold award for Best Performance 2017. Suzann trained in Acting at Italia Conti Academy and has an MA from Middlesex University in Directing and Producing theatre for social change.

About Theatre Peckham

Theatre Peckham is an award-winning cultural venue for artistic excellence and social change. Through the power of theatre, we illuminate young voices, provide skills and opportunities, and platform excellent creatives who are locally focused with a national and international reach. Founded over 30 years ago, Theatre Peckham is part of the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio. Two-time Offie-nominated, winner of the London Borough of Southwark’s Cultural Commitment Award 2019, and winner of the Drama & Theatre magazine Editor’s Award at the Music & Drama Education Awards in April 2021.   Theatre Peckham platforms cutting edge productions, showcasing new talent and pushing the boundaries of form.  In the heart of South London Theatre Peckham champions underrepresented voices and leads the change that is influencing our sector.