From his first experience of Martin Luther King to why a telephone plays such an important role in his play, writer and performer Christopher Tajah tells us about his hit one-man Martin Luther King drama, Dream of A King. Read his fascinating interview, then book your tickets!
Following successful runs at The Playground Theatre in January and Drayton Arms Theatre in February, the production continues to run at Waterloo East Theatre until 20 March before continuing its tour to Bridge House Theatre (21-24 March) and the Brighton Fringe from 20-22 May.
It’s 4 April 1968. Four years after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for his dynamic leadership of the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King was murdered. Set on the night of his shooting in a Tennessee motel room, this new solo play explores the extraordinary man behind the legend.
An American Baptist minister, Martin Luther King pushed the civil rights movement forward using nonviolent resistance, inspiring followers with his magnetic oratory – which includes the famous ‘I have a dream’ speech – and leading protests including the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and the 1963 march on Washington where he gave his most famous address.
Christopher Tajah both wrote and stars in Dream of a King. The experienced London performer has appeared in stage productions including The Dutchman at Tristan Bates Theatre. His film credits include horror film The Rizen and its upcoming 2019 sequel The Rizen – Possession.
Audiences who saw Dream of a King at the Playground Theatre in January described Tajah’s performance as “very moving, totally absorbing”, “stunning”, “excellent” and “brilliant”.
Dream of a King is co-produced by reggae star Paulette Tajah, who also performs additional songs as part of the production. One of the Queen’s of reggae sub-genre, Lover’s Rock, Tajah boasts hits including ‘Cos You Love Me Baby, Let’s Make A Baby and Stop Look Listen. The production is directed by Bernie C Byrnes.
Dream of a King performance dates:
21-24 March: Bridge House Theatre, 2 High St, London SE20 8RZ. Performances are Thursday to Saturday at 7.30pm, with matinees on Saturday at 3pm & Sunday at 4pm. Tickets are priced from £10. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
20-22 May: The Warren: Theatre Box (part of Brighton Fringe Festival), Victoria Gardens, Brighton BN1 1UB. Performances are Monday to Wednesday at 7.15pm. Tickets are priced £10 (concessions from £5). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Christopher Tajah, in his words…
I first became aware of Martin Luther King Jnr… as a child growing up. My Mother had a vinyl album that used to play the stereo on Sunday’s. The album was passed onto and I still have it.
My favourite line in one of Martin Luther King’s speeches is… ‘Faith is taking the first step even if you can’t see the whole staircase.’
I decided to write a play about Martin Luther King because… he is a very important and significant figure and I wanted to tell his story. I also want to keep him relevant.
I chose to create a one-man piece because… I wanted the focus to be completely on King. His journey, his decisions, his point of view.
I had the idea to use a telephone in the piece when… I thought about the period during the 1960s. The landline telephone at that point would have been the main form of communication. There was no social media or mobile phones. So waiting for the telephone to ring or making a call carries a lot of power and importance. Dramatically it’s also a way of bringing the outside world into Martin’s motel room and so on to stage allowing the audience a peek into the privacy of Martin’s solitude.
I chose to add music to the piece because… My sister Paulette is an accomplished professional singer, though I hadn’t thought about her being a part of the production until she saw me perform the play. We then talked about the themes involved and her role in the production evolved from there. I hadn’t thought about live singing in the piece because this is a straight drama, not a musical. It is now a play with additional songs.
My creative inspirations are… many and varied. Keaton, Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Richard Pryor, James Baldwin, August Wilson, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Spike Lee the list goes on. I have enormous respect for anyone and everyone that steps in front of a camera or on to a stage because I know what it takes to dig down inside yourself in order to produce or present a tale that explores the lives of characters; who they are, what they want and how they intend to get it.
I hope Dream of a King will… continues its journey to theatres, schools and colleges, resonating with audiences of all ages and illuminating the life of Dr King.