Unzipped 2009, Young Vic, Maria Studios
Now in its fourth year the Talawa Unzipped event is an annual showcase of readings by some of the UK’s leading BAME (Black, Asian Minority Ethnic) playwrights. The 2008/9 writers were put into three different categories and each given a topic to address within their plays. The first category was Accessibility Vs Authenticity: Do we sell-out to sell out? Addressing this subject were Michael Abbensetts, Roy Williams and Winsome Pinnock.
Michael Abbensetts’ play, The Price Maria Paid, looked at the sacrifices and struggles African-American Maria had to endure to become one of the most successful lawyers in her firm; a position previously only held by white men. Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch examined the relationship between two up and coming black boxers and to what extent had the influence of a white coach affected their identity. Finally was Winsome Pinnock’s Touched, which looked intriguingly at the relationship between two sisters and questioned whether one sister had sold out the family in order profit from a tell-all book. It was nice to see a different take on the theme and explore the issue of selling-out in the context of family rather than race.
The second half of the evening looked at Storyteller or History Maker: Who do you think you are? and asked the question to what extent should playwrights think about their multicultural audience when creating a play or should they just a tell story regardless. First up was Sudha Bhuchar’s Child of the Divide. Set in Pakistan it told the story of Pali, a young Indian boy who had been taken in by a Muslim family and forced to convert to Islam. Next was Oladipo Agboluaje’s Auditions, a hilarious comedy about black male actors and their struggle to make it in the industry. The play was performed brilliantly by the cast, in particular Clint Dyer who was excellent as the RADA trained, hopeless-but-hopeful Tut at an audition for an Adulthood style short film. The night was rounded off by Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses, telling the Romeo and Juliet style love story in a world controlled by black people.
Info: Unzipped continues on the 18 April with plays by Kwame Kwei-Armah, Benjamin Yoeh, Michael Bhim and Patricia Cumper under the topic of Post Multiculturalism: What colour are you now?