RACHEL by Angelina Weld Grimké.
“Today, we colored men and women, everywhere – are up against it… In the South, they make it as impossible as they can for us to get educated. In the North, they make a pretence of liberality; they give us the ballot and a good education, and then snuff us out. Each year, the problem just to live, gets more difficult to solve.”
Rediscovered by Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson, Rachel is a genuinely lost landmark of American theatre – the first play by an African American woman ever produced professionally. Directed by exciting young director Ola Ince, as part of Black History Month, the European premiere of Rachel opens at the multi award-winning Finborough Theatre for a four week limited season on Tuesday, 30th September 2014 (Press Night: Thursday, 2nd October at 7.30pm)
Rachel is a young, educated, middle-class woman.
But she is born into an African-American family in the early 20th century – a world in which ignorance and violence prevail.
While her family and neighbours find different ways to survive, Rachel’s dreams of getting married and becoming a mother collide with the tragic events of her family’s past as she confronts the harsh reality of a racist world.
“Our hands are clean; theirs are red with blood. We are destined to failure – they, to success. Their children shall grow up in hope; ours, in despair.”
Written exactly midway between the American Civil War and the end of slavery, and the explosion of Civil Rights in the 1960s, this hauntingly beautiful and profoundly shocking play still asks urgent questions for today.
Rachel was first produced by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1916 in Washington, D.C., and subsequently at the Neighborhood Theater, New York City, and in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an all-black cast. Leading African-American historian Alain Leroy Locke said of Rachel that it was “the first successful drama written by a Negro and interpreted by Negro actors.”
Playwright Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958) was a poet, dramatist, journalist, teacher, essayist, radical feminist and lesbian icon. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts, into an unusual and distinguished mixed-race family which, within the three preceding generations, included slaveholders and slaves, free black people, white abolitionists, and advocates for women’s rights and women’s suffrage. She is widely regarded as a leading forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance, the cultural, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem between the end of the First World War and the middle of the 1930s including such seminal figures as James Baldwin and Langston Hughes.
Director Ola Ince returns to the Finborough Theatre where she has directed the world premiere of Chris Dunkley’s The Soft of Her Palm and May Sumbwanyambe’s Back Home Contemplation as part of The Papatango New Writing Festival; and was formerly a Resident Assistant Director at the Finborough Theatre, assisting on Fanta Orange and Blue Serge.
Cast: Adelayo Adedayo as Rachel Loving, Sheila Atim as Mrs Lane, Miquel Brown as Mrs Loving, Nakay Kpaka as Tom Loving, Zephryn Taitte as John Strong, Kaylah Black as Ethel Lane, Lexyn Boahen as Ethel Lane, William Wright-Neblett as Jimmy Mason.
Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED
Box Office 0844 847 1652
Online at www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk
Tuesday, 30 September– Saturday, 25 October 2014
Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm. Sunday Matinees at 3.00pm. Saturday matinees at 3.00pm (from the second week of the run).
Wednesday 17th September 2014