Papatango has today announced its first production outside of the company’s New Writing Prize – the world première of After Independence by May Sumbwanyambe which opens at the Arcola Theatre on 6th May 2016, with previews from 4th May, and runs until 28th May 2016.
Inspired by real events in Zimbabwe, May Sumbwanyambe’s first play is an unflinching examination of land ownership, dispossession and justice in a post-colonial world.
Africa is changing. Country by country, step by step. But for Guy and Kathleen, life on their ranch goes on, just as it has since their ancestors first claimed this land. Until a man from the new government arrives with a smile and a purchase order – but there’s more than just land at stake. Charles will do whatever it takes to restore the farm to the ‘native’ population.
A game of cat and mouse, claim and counter-claim, begins, with the heritage of an entire nation to play for. As truths are revealed and moralities questioned, can things ever be more than simply black and white?
May Sumbwanyambe was born in Edinburgh a year after his parents immigrated to the UK from Zambia. His mother is of the Bemba tribe of the Copperbelt and his father is of the Lozi tribe of the Western Province. Their wider family is split across Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – where After Independence is set. May’s grandfather was an elected Mayor in Zambia and an advocate for the independence of all African nations, and his father was in the government of the first elected President of Zambia.
May was chosen, from 220 anonymous applicants, to be Papatango’s first Resident Playwright supported by the BBC. Since completing his Residency with Papatango, he has been commissioned by National Theatre Scotland, BBC Radio Four and Scottish Opera. He has also been shortlisted for the Channel 4/Oran Mor Comedy Drama Award, the Alfred Fagon Award, and the Alfred Bradley Award. He won the BBC’s Scriptroom competition.
George Turvey directs. He is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Papatango Theatre Company. He has appeared as an actor on stage and screen throughout the UK and internationally, including No Villain (Old Red Lion), the role of Batman in Batman Live World Arena Tour, Peter Gill’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Tamara Harvey’s Romeo and Juliet. His directing credits include Leopoldville (Papatango at the Tristan Bates Theatre), and Angel (Papatango at the Pleasance Islington and the Tristan Bates Theatre). As a dramaturg he has overseen and developed each of Papatango’s shows.
Papatango is a charity, without core funding, which discovers and champions talented new playwrights by running open application schemes and opportunities, all free to enter and assessed anonymously.
These include the Papatango New Writing Prize, UK theatre’s only annual award guaranteeing a début playwright a full production, publication, 10% of the gross box office and an unprecedented £6000 commission for a second play, an unmatched commitment to developing new writers.
Other opportunities include the Resident Playwright scheme, taking an emerging playwright through commissioning and development of a new play. Papatango also runs an extensive programme of free playwriting workshops and courses in London, Bristol, Bedford and Liverpool, which trained 721 budding writers in 2015. All writers submitting scripts to Papatango receive full feedback for free, with over 1000 individuals having benefitted from this in the last year.
Papatango is proud to have discovered new playwrights from diverse backgrounds and outside normal industry channels. All of its writers undergo intensive development to prepare them for a writing career, and the success of its discoveries inspires grassroots playwriting. Papatango discoveries include Off West End and RNT Foundation Award-winner Dawn King, James Rushbrooke, Deluge writer Fiona Doyle, BAFTA-winner Dominic Mitchell, Luke Owen, Louise Monaghan, and Oppenheimer writer Tom Morton-Smith.
Arcola Theatre Listings
24 Ashwin St, London E8 3DL
Box Office: 020 7503 1646
Mondays – Saturdays at 8pm
Saturday matinees at 3:30pm