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.

3 thoughts on “Passing.

  1. I saw you perform at the Arc in Stockton on the 23rd. A very powerful performance that was for me the perfect blend between humour and seriousness. I was the only black person in the audience and I was very aware of laughing at some parts by myself. Maybe the audience hadn't given themselves permission to laugh. I'm looking forward to another performance in the North East sometime soon.
    Dominic Nelson-Ashley

  2. I bought my A level students to see you at Warwick Arts Centre in March and your Q+A session was SO valuable to them. I come from the West Midlands but work in a BNP stronghold town now. The idea race and racial issues is still SO alien to them. They still are scarred by the BNP rhetoric they hear at home and coming to see “An Ethnic” was pretty eye opening for them.
    However, it was today that I used a recording of “Invisible Kisses” with not my English class but with my Music class; trying to give them a taste of performed poetry and of course to remind them that not everyone has the same vowels as they do!!! They loved the poem and they usually love my stories, but today, they didn't know what I meant when I explained the opening to your play.
    “Miss, what's an ethnic?” I didn't think I had time to explain!
    Thanks for a great night, I hope to see you again soon.

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