On tour. I’ve been in Manchester for five days at The Malmaison Hotel in Piccadilly. And last night was the final performance in this fair city: a BBC radio 3 adaptation of my play in front of a live studio audience. It’s due for broadcast in September.
But I am also on tour with the stage version and the previous three days I’ve performed to packed audience at Manchester’s Contact Theatre. I had decided this tour that each performance of Why I Don’t Hate White People would follow with a Question and Answer session. This has become a riveting integral element of the evening.
The other night a tall young black man in the audience told how his father died when he was just four years old and how his mother has cared for him since then. “We don’t get on sometimes.” He said as if he was chatting in his front room rather than in front of a full audience. I detected the soft lilt of a somalian accent “but this show reminded me how much she has done for me”. This awakening was in his words.
I encouraged him to tell her so. Sometimes the Q and A sessions have lasted as long as the performance. It is easy to assume that a play called Why I Don’t Hate White People is a predictable polemic on the subject of race. We assume so much. It is easy to assume this blog as a self promotion tool when in fact I write for memory in lieu of family. It’s all relative.
London is soaked with itself in a rich and glutinous concentrated goo of talent and expectation. But this goo can itself block the air holes in the spirit. It doesn’t have to be that way. The other day I was stopped in the street in Manchester “you don’t know me” said a middle aged cheery black woman “but I’ve watched you over the years and you’re a good brother. That’s all I wanted to say”. And off she goes. I don’t depend on public recognition for self esteem. But if you know my story you may also know the profound effect of such a simple passing comment from a passer by.