3rd December 2015.
After a month’s break, SANCHO is about to have another outing in the United States. This time we’re playing two venues in Pennsylvania(The August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh and the Williams Center in Easton) and then a week long run for our New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
I’m in need of a refreshment of my lines, I realise, to my dismay. I certainly hope the feeling that I have the play sitting, intact, in the back of my head is not a false one. I’ll have to do a run in my head on the plane over to the US on Saturday. Hopefully, I’ll be sitting next to a sympathetic fellow passenger!
I’ll be staying on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the BAM gig. It is one of the oldest theatres in New York and a very prestigious space, too. The likes of Peter Brook, Robert Lepage and Pina Bausch, have played, and triumphed, in its three wonderful spaces.
I feel very privileged to be able to play BAM, as it is a well sought after venue for any international theatre company. In 2013 I was part of the cast that took JULIUS CAESAR there with the Royal Shakespeare Company. We were placed in The Harvey. A beautiful theatre built on the model of the aforementioned, Peter Brook’s, Parisian venue, Le Théâtre Des Bouffe Du Nord. All distressed walls and pillars, it gave our production, set in a fictional African country, a broken-down but holistic feel. As if the set, a copy of a rundown, African stadium, had always been a part of that space. Michael Vale, SANCHO’s designer, at his absolute best once again.
The audience came from all over New York and beyond; our talented company loved their time there. We were treated with such respect and support that I longed then to come back one day. I little dreamt that it would be so soon, and in a play of my own creation.
Finishing our JULIUS CAESAR tour at BAM after playing the mecca of acting, Constantin Stanislavski’s, Moscow Art Theatre, in Russia’s capital, couldn’t have been a better way to end our fairy tale year exploring what the actor, John Kani, of the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, described with reverence as, “Shakespeare’s African play...” Taking SANCHO, the story of one of Africa’s greatest sons, to BAM will be a full-circle that I will be proud to complete.
The other great advantage of playing BAM, of course, is the fact that Brooklyn is such a vibrant, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Borough of New York. Walking down Fulton Street which leads to The Harvey, was like walking down Atlantic Road in London’s, Brixton. Proving that Brooklyn is one of NYC’s biggest, most vibrant, Afro-Caribbean communities. I’ll be playing The Fisher, where we held an electrifying symposium on CAESAR in 2013. What better place to end this year of SANCHO in America?