Blaccine First Dose – three audio monologues will be released in January 2023 by Sound Stage – a new venture by Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Stockroom in Association with Naked Productions.
The monologues investigate the Black British community’s relationship with the Covid-19 vaccine. When the Covid-19 vaccine take up in the Black British community began to be speculated about in the media, three Black British writers Tonderai Munyevu (Mugabe, My Dad and Me, winner of the Best New Play at the UK Theatre Awards 2022), Maheni Arthur and Isaac Tomiczek became curious and started an urgent conversation. Listening and talking soon opened a gateway to the varied and deeply powerful forces playing into the lives of Black people in the UK today.
Blaccine First Dose takes listeners on a personal journey touching on complex realities through a series of three monologues. Told with sincerity and curiosity, this radically honest reflection is followed by a post-show discussion with the writers.
Blaccine First Dose’s three new monologues – The Process by Maheni Arthur, Trigger Warning by Tonderai Munyevu and Brixton Royalty by Isaac Tomiczek are performed by Kiren Kebaili-Dwyer (Much Ado About Nothing, National Theatre), Michelle Tiwo (And The Rest of Me Floats, Bush Theatre) and Bola Adegbola (The High Table, Bush Theatre, Richard III, Headlong Theatre and Titus Andronicus, RSC).
All three monologues are co-directed by Tonderai Munyevu and Debbie Hannan (The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, Manchester Royal Exchange and Overflow, Bush Theatre) with music by Rina Mushonga.
Maheni Arthur said:
“I’m so honoured to have been a part of the creation of Blaccine: First Dose; the writing process was challenging, upsetting, empowering, and healing all at once. It’s a privilege to have had the opportunity to share my experiences as not only a Black person living in Britain but also as a Black woman, and to be a small voice in such a huge conversation. I’m immensely proud of Tonderai for firstly calling this project to action, and of the three of us for being as vulnerable as we have been, never shying away from the uncomfortable and important truth that we’ve presented with this work. This project is something we hold so close to our hearts, and my hope is that we can empower Black Britons to hold the same space we have for themselves, find strength within our shared stories, and to brave their own truths with us, however messy or uncertain they may be.”
“Blaccine feels like the start and completion of something beautiful. Being able to write about subjects so close to my heart; my hometown, my community, my identity, my hopes, it definitely gave me a sense of closure after the uncertainty of the pandemic and its peak. However, the actual writing process and the research period felt like the start of an adventure with Tonderai Maheni and Pia, something we will all cherish and take an immense amount of strength from. Blaccine first dose represents a significant milestone. It will be my first audio drama and every step of the process has felt like uncharted and beautiful territory for me as a writer and working-class kid from Brixton. I’m so grateful to Tonderai and Stockroom for their fearlessness and bravery to commit to something so provocative, innovative, and necessary. British Theatre needs plays like Blaccine… and I don’t think it’s ready for what’s about to drop.”
Tonderai Munyevu added:
“Working on “Blaccine: First Dose” has been an extraordinary experience. Firstly, to join with Maheni and Isaac in looking closely at the issues that affect us, and people like us has been humbling. We feel seen and heard. Secondly, there is an urgent story Black Britain has to tell today, not easy story, in fact it is a testimony of hurt steeped in the long history of injustice directed at black people. We feel emboldened to spread the truth we have discovered, in this radio project at first but at large in the theatre and any other means we can find. We know there will be laughter and tears as well as hope and strength.”
Sound Stage is an exciting audio-digital venture, designed by theatre makers and leading technologists, giving audiences a unique and engrossing online theatre experience of new plays from the best in British theatre which, in the future, Pitlochry Festival Theatre hope to produce on stage. Sound Stage Seasons 1 and 2 featured new plays by from amongst others Mark Ravenhill, Roy Williams, John Byrne, Frances Poet, and Timberlake Wertenbaker.
Stockroom is a writers room for theatre, and the Stockroom Artists produce new work for midscale stages around the country. It comprises a team of six diverse salaried theatre makers who pool their individual expertise to create new plays for audiences across the UK. The company partners with theatres around the country to create shows that celebrate story and the live experience. Stockroom announced in July that the company will be bringing James Graham’s stage adaptation of Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the Blackstuff to Liverpool’s Royal Court in Autumn 2023.
Naked Productions is a leading independent production company, making top quality, innovative audio for a range of platforms. They have previously worked with Pitlochry Festival Theatre on the first two successful seasons of Sound Stage.
Every Sound Stage performance will be accompanied by a post-show event, hosted online, inviting audiences to engage further with these exciting new monologues.