Sleepova, an ode to black women and their boundless spirits and wild dreams is a new Bush commission from Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini (Little Miss Burden) opening on 24 February (press night 1 March). Sleepova marks the stage debut of three actresses including Bukky Bakray (Rocks), who at 19, became the youngest BAFTA Rising Star Award recipient as well as one of the youngest ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role’ nominees.
‘We don’t get to choose when we become women, y’know?’
Join Rey, Elle, Shan, and Funmi. Armed with sugary snacks, school gossip, and secret questions they can only ask each other, their sleepovas are pretty much a sacred space for them.
As each year tugs them further into adulthood and life doesn’t pan out quite as they imagined they struggle to hold on to a friendship that they swore would last a lifetime.
Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini is an award-winning, bionic playwright and screenwriter of Nigerian heritage from London. Matilda was selected as a ‘Star of Tomorrow’ 2020 by Screen Daily Magazine, a feature film screenplay she co-wrote with Gabriel-Bisset Smith was selected as part of The Brit List 2020 and she is an Arts Foundation Futures Award 2021 Finalist.
As a playwright, Matilda has had residencies with Sphinx Theatre, English Touring Theatre, Soho Theatre, BBC Writersroom, Graeae Theatre, and the National Theatre Studio. Her debut play Muscovado was produced by BurntOut Theatre, won the Alfred Fagon Audience Award in 2015. Her audio drama The Grape that Rolled Under the Fridge was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Her next play Little Miss Burden was produced by Harts Theatre Company and the Bunker Theatre; it premiered at the Bunker Theatre in 2019, won a Popcorn Finalist Award 2020 and was published by Concord Theatricals. A radio adaptation of Little Miss Burden was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and When a Breath Ignites a Flame an audio drama is now available on Audible.
Screen credits include BAFTA TV-Nominated CripTales for BBC America & BBC4. Unprecedented Series, Headlong & Century Films for BBC4, Head Over Wheels, a short film produced by Open Sky Theatre & Wrapt Films. Her work has been staged at the Old Vic Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Court Theatre, Soho Theatre, Arcola Theatre, Bunker Theatre and Vaults Festival. She has screen projects in development with BBC Films, Home Team, Ardimages UK and Raw TV.
Director Jade Lewis was a Boris Karloff Trainee Assistant Director at the Young Vic, a Creative Associate at the Gate Theatre and held an International Residency in Thailand in 2018. Jade most recently wrote and directed Get Dressed! at the Unicorn Theatre, a short film for the TWENTY TWENTY project with the Young Vic, Quarter Life Crisis at the Bridge Theatre, co-created an original audio series World Of Curls with the writer Yolanda Mercy for BBC Radio 4, and directed an audio drama NSA which was a part of Talawa Tales also BBC Radio 4. Jade is the Carne Literary Associate at Theatre503.
Bukky Bakray plays Funmi. Bukky began her acting career in the breakout indie hit Rocks, directed by Sarah Gavron, in 2020. The film won Bukky several awards including the prestigious BAFTA Rising Star. Bukky starred in the BBC/Netflix series You Don’t Know Me starring Sam Adewunmi which received positive critical acclaim. She will next be seen in The Strays, a Netflix UK Original Film opposite Ashley Madekwe, and Apple TV+ series Liaison, alongside a cast including Vincent Cassell and Eva Green. Her other credits include the short films Gospel According to Gail and Self Charm directed by Ella Greenwood.
In 2020 she was selected for the BAFTA Breakthrough programme and included in the annual Dazed 100 list. Bukky was named one of Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow 2021.
Amber Grappy plays Alfreda (Rey). She trained at LAMDA and spent a large part of her third year working first on HBO’s The Baby, playing one of three lead women. She was recently seen in the BBC show Wreck, a slasher-comedy which will return for a second series in 2023. Amber is currently filming One Day for Netflix and Sleepova marks her professional stage debut.
Aliyah Odoffin plays Shanice (Shan). Upon graduating from RADA in 2021, Aliyah was quickly snapped up by Working Title to play one of the leads in Everything I Know About Love, which landed her a Royal Television Society North West nomination in 2022. Her theatre debut in Clybourne Park garnered her fantastic reviews, and most recently she led the cast alongside Alfie Allen in Suffrajitsu, a short film produced by Steve McQueen’s production company, Lammas Park.
Shayde Sinclair plays Elle. Shayde is presently training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and also makes her professional stage debut in ‘Sleepova’. Her voice credits include Phantoms, Visions and Siren Voices (part of a BBC Radio 3 Series).
Bush Theatre Artistic Director Lynette Linton said, ‘Sleepova is funny, moving and brilliantly reflects nights spent alongside young black women. I’m can’t wait to see this fantastic script on stage and am excited to continue the Bush tradition of introducing fresh talent to the theatre.’
Tickets priced from £20 (concessions available) can be booked at bushtheatre.co.uk or at the Box Office on 020 8743 5050.