How have director Dawn Walton and the cast of Janice Okoh’s new play The Gift been getting to grips with a little-known chapter of 19th-century British history? Check out our bumper gallery of rehearsal photos. Time to get booking for this month’s premiere at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, subsequent London transfer and tour!
Janice Okoh‘s new play The Gift is the third show to emerge from Eclipse Theatre’s groundbreaking Revolution Mix movement, which is spearheading the largest-ever delivery of new Black British stories in theatre, film and radio. It premieres in Coventry, where it runs from 18 to 25 January 2020, with a press night on 21 January.
Following Coventry, the production visits London’s Theatre Royal Stratford East (29 January-15 February), Oxford, Bury St Edmunds, Southampton and Scarborough.
Set in both 1852 and the present day, the outrageously funny play explores themes of cross-racial adoption and cultural appropriation, partly inspired by the remarkable true story of Sarah Bonetta Davies, a young African girl who was adopted by Queen Victoria and raised in the Queen’s circles.
Her story is juxtaposed against that of a second Sarah – a middle-class black woman staying in a modern-day Cheshire village with her husband and small child. The two Sarahs’ timelines are brought together when they meet Queen Victoria for tea, in a gathering which promises to be anything but a regular tea party.
The Gift is and directed by Eclipse founder and former artistic director Dawn Walton, who also directed the acclaimed tour of Black Men Walking, based on a real-life Black men’s walking group in Sheffield, as part of Revolution Mix.
In the six-strong cast of The Gift, Shannon Hayes plays Sarah Bonetta Davies. She’s joined by Dave Fishley (as James Davies), Rebecca Charles (Mrs Schoen / Harriet), Donna Berlin (Aggie / Sarah), Joanna Brookes (Harriet Waller / Queen Victoria) and Richard Teverson (Reverend Venn).Photography by Ellie Kurtz.
Prior to a UK tour, The Gift runs at Belgrade Theatre, Belgrade Square, Corporation St, Coventry CV1 1GS from 18 to 25 January 2020 with evening performances Mondays to Saturdays at 7.45pm (21 January at 7pm), matinees 23 and 25 January at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced from £8.50. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!