Word of Mouth Media Productions present
by Richard Nyeila, inspired by Melton A. McLaurin’s biography ‘Celia A Slave’
Directed by Malcolm Frederick
Designed by Mahogany Carnival
Lighting by Simon Mason
Cast: Wil Johnson, Victor Romero Evans, Glenna Forster-Jones, Shango Baku,
Jotham Annan, Michelle Assante, Diana Walker
Press night: Monday 12 May at 7.30pm
Venue: The New Players Theatre, The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NQ
Dates and times: 6-24 May at 7.30pm
Tickets: £15 / concs £10
Box office: 020 7930 6601 / www.newplayerstheatre.com
Ticketweb: 0844 477 1000 / www.ticketweb.co.uk Ticketmania: 020 8555 0044 / www.ticketmania.co.uk
Waking the Dead’s Wil Johnson and The Harder They Come’s Victor Romero Evans return to the London stage in CELIA at the New Players Theatre.
This is not your usual slave story.
In 1855 a young woman finds herself on trial for murder. She claimed the victim was trying to rape her and had succeeded in doing so repeatedly for several years. The sympathy of the court and the ensuing verdict should have been assured, but this woman was black and the man she killed her owner.
This story takes place 50 years after the 1807 act brought an end to the slave trade (but not the institution of slavery. Celia explores the little known reality of sexual violence and rape endured by countless female slaves of all ages, and is told using letters and personal accounts of slaves, as well as documented transcripts from the trial.
Celia challenges many of the accepted notions about the illiteracy and docility of African slaves. Secret meetings, Pit Schools, organised group escapes and sabotage by fire (the slave’s secret weapon) all contribute towards the steady and relentless resistance to enslavement. Celia unmasks the true face of the slave: educated, resourceful and organised in order to overcome enslavement.
Celia is an empowering story of love, friendship, and the desire fro freedom. Based on new research and interwoven with songs from the period, Celia takes a fresh look at a story often told, but told often by the wrong people.
Director Malcolm Frederick has a long career in British theatre and television spanning over 30 years. He is well known for his leading characters in the seminal eighties television comedies ‘No Problem’ and ‘Get Up Stand Up’. More recently Malcolm directed ‘Splendid Mummer’ at The Old Vic, a play about the black actor Ira Aldridge, the most celebrated thespian of the 19th century. ‘Splendid Mummer’ has been touring the country throughout 2007 following a successful run in the USA.
Writer Richard Nyeila has been writing for theatre for over 20 years more recently he has been writing for film and television. He has worked for the BBC comedy development unit and was a script editor for sketch show ‘The Real McCoy’. The cast includes Victor Romero Evans who has just appeared in the revival of ‘The Harder They Come’, and Wil Johnson from the BBC’s ‘Waking The Dead’. Mahogany Carnival, of Notting Hill Carnival fame, are designing the production.
Word of Mouth Media Productions is a young company with great ambitions. Formed in 2000 by Drama Centre graduates the company strives to deliver thought provoking productions and champion new writing.