The name of the play that I went to see was called ‘Urban Afro Saxons’. It was shown at the theatre royal in Stratford East. The play was co-written by Kofi Agyemany and Patricia Elcock. Paulette Randell directed the performance of Urban Afro Saxons, which belonged to the production company called Talawa Theatre Co. The play was about the diverse cultures in Britain today. They wanted to show that everybody is the same; except for the way they look on the outside. The characters involved get to know each other properly, due to the amount of time they are forced to spend with their neighbours.
The neighbours had to spend time with each other because their estate was under siege and they weren’t aloud to enter their homes. So they gathered in the estate park, where they were forced to spend the night with each other. The play was set in the modern era, in the east end of London. The main theme of the piece of drama was ‘What makes people British’. By this they mean what are the people in Britain actually like and why are they like this. Multicultural Britain was a big theme in the play and was expressed in many different ways. There were two main cultures ‘black and white’.
The two main white characters were Scott and Amanda. The two main black characters were Dennis and Patsy and there was one main mixed race character called Jermaine. The character that was used most often to illustrate it was Patsy. Examples of this were, when Patsy braided hers son’s (Jermaine) hair in the beginning of the play. This showed the audience how ethnic traditions had been passed on to. Patsy also revealed her love for ‘wining’ – dancing, to customary Caribbean music. Dennis and her showed the audience what she meant by this. Patsy was a black mother of three. She was prejudice towards people of different races marrying.
For example in the performance Patsy, blatantly showed her disgust towards Scott and Amanda’s marriage. Perhaps this was due to Jermaine’s father as her son was of mixed race but we cannot be sure. Dennis also happened to be black. In the story he was a shoulder for Jermaine to cry on. We know this because Jermaine tells Dennis about his plans before anyone else. Dennis also happens to fancy Patsy and she has a thing for him too, even though she denies it. The final theme in the story is based around a girl named Tanya who was white and tried to justify the older white generation.
One example of this is when Jermaine tells her about an incident, when her grandmother shouts comments out the window to him and she tries to brush it off by saying it was due to her lack of understanding. She felt as though it wasn’t her grandmother’s fault as she was brought up in a different era and things had changed so drastically, she wasn’t to know any better. Multicultural Britain is incorporated in the themes such as love, family and the attitudes of the characters as this is what made the characters who there were and influenced the relationships between the family members and lovers.
The storyline was additionally based around LOVE. There were two main love stories in the play. The most obvious relationship being between Scott and Amanda. Amanda dominated their relationship, due to her lack of self-assurance. She felt as though her being the dominating party in the relationship between the two would help her to feel loved and wanted by her husband. The other individual themes that expressed the answer to the question above were: a man Scott, who was a white builder married to a black businesswoman named Amanda. They had two children and problems with their marriage.
This was shown by the amount of disagreements they had through the course of the play. They had two mixed race children. The views of the audience would have been split on this point as some would completely disagreement with this even though it is becoming more common, whereas others would not be bothered by the children being of mixed race. The second love story was between Patsy and Dennis. This relationship was much more suttle and undeveloped. The two of them didn’t really know each other at the beginning of the play and only started to emerge, when Dennis tried to flirt with Patsy.
Patsy tired to deny any feeling for Dennis at the start, but by the end of the performance she would respond to his flirtatious ways. The second was about a 17-year-old student named Jermaine, who was planning to go to university in Manchester. Patsy who was Jermaine’s mother didn’t know about his plans and when she found out wasn’t happy. I think the writers were trying to tell the audience that Britain is no-longer just white people; it has various nationalities in it and this is what makes us what we are.
As in the play Scott the white male has a liking for rice and peas. This is because of his wife’s influences and cultural background has rubbed off on him. Overall I think the writer is invoking equality but at points shows this is not always the way. The writers were extremely successful in my eyes because they wanted to explore what makes people British, t hey wanted to create a piece of drama that discovered all types of British People. The assorted types of people in the play showed this. There were Africans, Caribbean’s and Europeans.
However there was no Asians and I feel that the Asian community has a large role in society nowadays. The play was set in Britain, in London, in the East End, in Hackney on a council Estate. The estate only had a small playground which had a swing, a slide connected to a large platform and a bench. There was grass on the stage to make the scene more realistic. There were also big round lights that hung from the ceiling and the brightness of them was changed depending on what time of day it was meant to be. This was a clever idea as the atmosphere that was trying to be created was achieved
The mood produced in each act seemed to be well thought out as the time span used was quite accurate to life and you could well believe that even though it was nighttime outside, it could be nine in the morning in the theatre. The actors wore appropriate costumes to represent their characters personality. Each of them had a unique style and this is also why I liked the play. The general style put across to the audience appeared to be according to what the actor/actress were trying to signify. Tanya the young white female was wearing a velour tracksuit. The trousers were slightly pulled down and her thongs were slightly pulled up.
This was a fashionable thing to do not so long ago and if you were to walk the streets of East London a few months ago, you would have seen several girls dressed like this. Tanya portrayed a character that a lot of young girls could relate to. In contrast with this is Scott who wore a set of overalls and a luminous waistcoat as he had just come from work. This showed everyone what kind of lifestyle he had. He was playing the character of a typical ‘East End geezer’, a working family man. Props used in the production gave a lot away about the characters and explored the difference between some of the characters.
For example Amanda had a Waitrose shopping bags and Patsy had a plain, cheap shopping bag. Waitrose is renowned for being an upper-class supermarket where people with a bit of money shopped, whereas plain plastic bags with no name or logo on them, would be for a person without a lot of money, someone that would have to be careful with their money. A performance that I practically enjoyed was Amanda and Scott’s relationship. They covered areas that married couples with kids could relate to. They showed that you can’t hide behind nice suits and ‘flashy’ phones.
The performers illustrated that you can want to make something better of yourself but you can’t be overcome by this one ambition or you’ll damage everything else. I also liked it because Scott made me laugh, for instance when he did impressions of Amanda’s family in St. Lucia, when they went there for their honeymoon. However I felt Jermaine’s performance could have been stronger. This is because his facial expressions weren’t powerful enough. On one occasion in the play, worried was what he meant to look like, as he had not told his mother of his plans but seemed to look rather blank and no emotions showing.
However his body language was exceptionally realistic to a teenage boy (the role he was meant tot be playing), especially when he would drop his head in a strop, when his mum (Patsy) would tell him off. In conclusion I think the playwrights got their points across extremely well and that different cultures can adapt to living in different countries and become part of that culture. I was most amused by the disagreements between Amanda and Patsy as their similar personalities caused them to argue. The only improvement for this play would have been to broaden the amount of cultures include as I expressed earlier.