- New free events announced for first ever For The Culture – Celebrations Of Blackness Festival at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 January 2022:
- The Prologue: Opening Ceremony with the Endurance Steel Orchestra, One Drum Foundation, Mbira player Millicent Chapanda, poetry by Ronke Adekoluejo and a festival welcome from co-curators Dr Peggy Brunache, Tinuke Craig and Nicholai La Barrie
- The Epilogue: Closing Ceremony with award-winning West End performer Shan Ako (Les Misérables) and a specially curated For The Culture Choir with gospel singers from across London
- For The Actors: Monologue Showcase of young Black talent, plus Q&A with film producer Mathieu Ajan and leading actors Alfred Enoch, Lydia West, Susan Wokoma and Ronke Adekoluojo
- For The Conversation: The Political Is Always Personal by festival co-curator Dr Peggy Brunache and panellists Lady Phyll, co-founder and CEO of UK Black Pride, and comedian Dane Baptiste
- The High Table, rehearsed reading of Temi Wilkey’s debut play directed by festival co-curator Tinuke Craig
- Harriet film screening with a For The Culture video introduction from Clarke Peters
- Radiance art exhibition of painting, sculptural installation and film from the Black Blossoms School of Art and Culture
- For The Babies, pre-and-post natal care workshop with life coach and doula Mars Lord
- For The Mind wellbeing workshop with Black Minds Matter
- The festival is headlined by Lemn Sissay, Le Gateau Chocolat, 90s Baby Show Podcast and Shingai, as previously announced
- All tickets are available at www.lyric.co.uk
The full line-up of the inaugural For The Culture – Celebrations of Blackness Festival is released with a series of free events added to a packed festival programme. New free events are the grand opening and closing ceremonies, panel discussions, art exhibition, wellbeing and parent and baby sessions, rehearsed reading, monologue showcase and film screening. The programme also includes the previously announced family show Josephine and headline acts Le Gateau Chocolat, Lemn Sissay, 90s Baby Podcast and Shingai.
The festival is a celebration of Black joy, talent, culture and creativity and will run from 28 to 30 January to launch the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s 2022 Season. Tickets for free events must be booked in advance at www.lyric.co.uk
For The Culture is curated by Dr Peggy Brunache, Lecturer in the History of Atlantic Slavery & Director of the Beniba Centre for Slavery Studies at University of Glasgow, Tinuke Craig, Lyric Artistic Associate and Nicholai La Barrie, Lyric’s Associate Director.
For the Culture – Celebrations of Blackness Festival is kindly supported by Garfield Weston Foundation.
FOR THE CULTURE – CELEBRATIONS OF BLACKNESS FESTIVAL
(Line-up in date order)
THE PROLOGUE: OPENING CEREMONY
Friday 28 January, 6.30pm | Main House
For The Culture – Celebrations of Blackness Festival kicks off with The Prologue: Opening Ceremony featuring musicians and acrobatics including the Endurance Steel Orchestra, One Drum Foundation, traditional Mbira player Millicent Chapanda, poetry by Ronke Adekoluejo, and a special welcome from festival curators Dr Peggy Brunache, Tinuke Craig, and Nicholai La Barrie. Free event.
RADIANCE: AN ART EXHIBITION
Friday 28 – Sunday 30 January | Reuben Foundation Wing and Lyric Cinema
Running for the entirety of the festival, Radiance is an art exhibition of painting, sculptural installation and film curated by Bolanle Tajudeen and Pacheanne Anderson from the Black Blossoms School of Art and Culture. Radiance exhibits the manifestation of the artists’ thoughts and feelings towards diasporic African and Caribbean radiance. Free event.
Black Blossoms School of Art and Culture is an e-learning platform which delivers short courses and masterclasses that decolonise, deconstruct and democratise art history and creative learning. Classes are taught by leading artists, scholars and art professionals.
LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT
Friday 28 January, 8pm | Main House
Le Gateau Chocolat, the black-bearded drag and cabaret diva, headlines the first night of the festival and will mark his debut performance at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre with his brand new show Raw Cacao.Lurching from pop to opera via folk song, musical theatre, disco and more, Raw Cacao is a veritable mixtape of the songs that have shaped him as a man and as an artist his most personal work to date.
Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 January, 11am & 1pm | Lyric Studio
The extraordinary story of performer, spy and civil rights activist Josephine Baker is brought to the Lyric Studio on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 January in Josephine, by Leona Allen and Jesse Briton in a co-production from The Egg, Wales Millennium Centre and Oxford Playhouse.
With a sultry, Harlem Renaissance-inspired score, spring-heeled Charleston dancing and a hatful of historical figures, Josephine blurs the real with the imagined as we follow one woman’s incredible journey from the slums of St Louis via the bright lights of Paris and into the hearts of the world. For ages 7+
FOR THE CONVERSATION: THE POLITICAL IS ALWAYS PERSONAL
Saturday 29 January, 12pm | Lyric Cinema
Festival co-curator Dr Peggy Brunache hosts a panel discussion on the topic The Political is Always Personal with panellists Lady Phyll, co-founder and CEO of UK Black Pride, and acclaimed stand-up comedian Dane Baptiste. In an unflinching and personal in-conversation, the panel will share ways of finding Black joy, love, resistance, and self-care through their own personal and professional lives while navigating intense emotion and one’s proximity to racialised trauma, marginalisation, and violence. Free event.
FOR THE ACTORS: MONOLOGUE SHOWCASE
Saturday 29 January, 2pm | Main House
For The Actors is a monologue showcase featuring exceptional young Black talent, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A chaired by film producer Mathieu Ajan with leading actors Alfred Enoch, recently on stage as Romeo at Shakespeare’s Globe, Lydia West who played Jill Baxter in Channel 4’s It’s a Sin; Susan Wokoma as seen in Chewing Gum and Crazyhead; and Ronke Adekoluejo known for playing Jack Starbright in the Alex Rider series. For The Actors will share invaluable insight, expertise and practical advice from leading professional actors. Eight actors, aged 18-25, will each perform a monologue to an audience of industry professionals including casting agents, friends and family. Free event.
90S BABY SHOW
Saturday 29 January, 5pm | Main House
Following sold-out shows across London the wildly popular 90s Baby Show podcast is hitting ‘record’ live on stage at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in this headline event. Join Fred, Temi and VP for a candid conversation about life as a 90s baby in this ever-changing world. From pop culture to relationships and the Black experience in the UK; no topic is taboo for the ‘18.104.22.168’ Boys.
Saturday 29 January, 8pm | Main House
Shingai, the legendary frontwoman and bassist of the platinum-selling band Noisettes, will headline on Saturday night with a solo set including songs from her album Too Bold, inspired by the sounds of her London, Bantu and Zimbabwean heritage.
Renowned for her spellbinding performances, and described by Rolling Stone magazine as “the new afrofuturist pop goddess,” Shingai will take audiences on a sonic odyssey. The exquisite songstress returns to London from Zimbabwe for this one-off special event.
FOR THE BABIES
Sunday 30 January, 11am | Rehearsal Room 1
Mother of five, birth activist, doula educator and life coach, Mars Lord facilitates an intimate and life-affirming post-natal care workshop specifically for babies and their parents. Dispelling myths associated with Black birth, Mars Lord will explain the role of the doula and how the birth experience can contribute positively to your life and that of your child plus practical tips on how to navigate the maternity system safely. Free event.
Sunday 30 January, 12pm | Lyric Cinema
The Lyric Cinema will host an intimate screening of the 2019 feature film Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo, which tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity changed the course of history.
This screening will include a specially recorded introduction from Clarke Peters who stars in the film and whose voice was instrumental in the creation of For The Culture – Celebrations of Blackness Festival. Free event.
FOR THE MIND
Sunday 30 January, 1pm| Rehearsal Room 1
Facilitated by Black Minds Matter, For The Mind is a free workshop which explores and supports mental health specifically within the Black community providing tools for improving and maintaining wellbeing. Free event.
Black Minds Matter is led by experienced therapists and aims to make mental health topics more relevant and accessible for all Black people in the U.K., removing the stigma and remodelling the services to be relevant for the Black community.
Sunday 30 January, 2.30pm | Main House
Lemn Sissay will give a reading and talk on the story behind how he created Gold from the Stone in this Sunday headline event with one of Britain’s most popular and celebrated poets. Lemn Sissay is renowned for his strong, lyrical work on social and family themes. He was seventeen when he wrote his first poetry book, which he hand-sold to the miners and millworkers of Wigan. Since then, his poems have become landmarks, sculpted in granite and built from concrete, recorded on era-defining albums and declaimed in over thirty countries.
THE HIGH TABLE
Sunday 30 January, 3.30pm | Lyric Studio
Festival curator Tinuke Craig directs a rehearsed reading of Temi Wilkey’s debut play The High Table, an epic family drama played out between the heavens and earth.
The dresses are chosen, the venue’s been booked and the RSVPs are flooding in. But with her wedding to Leah drawing nearer, Tara’s future is thrown into jeopardy when her Nigerian parents refuse to attend. This kind of love is unheard of, they say. It’s not African.
High above London, suspended between the stars, three of Tara’s ancestors are jolted from their eternal rest. Stubborn and opinionated, they keep watch as family secrets are spilled and the rift widens between Tara and her parents. Can these representatives of generations past keep the family together? And will Tara’s decision ever get their blessing?
The High Table was first produced at the Bush Theatre and saw Temi Wilkey win the Stage Debut Award for Best Writer in 2020. Free event.
THE EPILOGUE: CLOSING CEREMONY WITH SHAN AKO AND FOR THE CULTURE CHOIR
Sunday 30 January, 5.30pm | Main House
The festival culminates with The Epilogue: Closing Ceremony with award-winning performer and singer/songwriter Shan Ako (Les Misérables, X Factor finalist 2018) and the festival’s very own For The Culture Choir – bringing together Black professional choralists from all over London who will come together for this one-off performance. Expect to hear soul, gospel, pop, R&B, jazz, folk and reggae. Free event.
Shan Ako appeared in the X Factor finals in 2018 and has since played Eponine in Les Misérables in the West End for which she won Best Performer in a Musical at The Stage Debut Awards.