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tfhq’s edinburgh fringe picks

It’s almost that time again — the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This time last year we were gearing up for our Fringe debut with mixed brain and decamping to Dalry.

This year we’re packing our waterproofs, water bottle, reusable coffee cup and lanyard to return — turning up and turning out for our Black and African heritage artist fam. At tiata fahodzi, we know the emotional, financial and artistic risks it takes to attend the world’s biggest arts market so we make a point of seeing all the work by Black artists that we can find because we see you — and we make a point of paying for all our tickets so you don’t take the hit.

We’ve had a scroll through the programme hunting for theatre, spoken word, and physical theatre —  written, directed or created by Black artists — and events so you don’t have to. In no particular order, here’s what we’ve found:

Dominoes — This bold new solo show, written and performed by Phoebe McIntosh, asks if the difficulties of the past will always pose a threat to the future and if discovering your identity means picking a side.

Queens of Sheba — This Untapped Award winner (2018) tells the stories of four black women who have been turned away from a night club for ‘being too black’ (based on the Dstrkt night spot incident of 2015).

Woke — This Fringe First winner returns for one week only. Against stunning gospel and blues sung live, two women 42 years apart join the struggle for American civil rights: notorious Black Panther Assata Shakur and a present-day student enrolling as the Ferguson riots begin. Both have the same choice: fight or flee?

The Island — The Island is an award-winning and acclaimed apartheid-era play written by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona and set on Robben Island, telling a moving story celebrating hope, passion and resilience. Directed by Chris Weare, this production stars Siya Mayola and Luntu Masiza.

Power Play: Funeral Flowers — Part-play, part-floristry masterclass, Funeral Flowers takes you inside the world of Angelique, a young black woman caught within the foster care system who dreams of becoming a florist. Staged within the confines of a real house, Funeral Flowers is a witty portrayal of adolescence, and the repercussions of a system in crisis.

Breakfast Plays: Youthquake and Theatre Uncut: Women on Power both feature work by our #tfcommission and fellow of the Royal Society of Literature — Sabrina Mafouz. Breakfast Plays: Youthquake explores a pressing question of our time: how can the younger generation be a catalyst for social and political change? And Theatre Uncut — multi award-winning political agitators present their brand-new collection of plays by some of the UK’s most dynamic female playwrights exploring the theme of power.

White — Koko Brown writes and performs this solo show about identity, being a mixed-race black woman. Blending live vocal looping and spoken word, White carefully considers the concept of mixed-race privilege, tries to connect clashing cultures and explores what it means to grow up mixed race in contemporary Britain.

Underground Railroad — This 2017 Obie Award winner and Time Out New York’s Best of 2016, features a duo of teachers tackling race, sex and power politics, with comic style.

Hot Brown Honey — The Honeys are back again, smashing stereotypes and remixing the system with lashings of sass and a hot pinch of empowerment in the smash-hit, genre-defying, award-winning firecracker of a show that’s taken the world by storm.

On Their Own Ground — Amantha Edmead’s play about the power of hope in action, follows three women, Madam C J Walker (the first self-made American female millionaire and hair-product queen), Amy Ashwood Garvey and Amy Jacques Garvey (the two wives of African nationalist the Hon Marcus Garvey, champions of the movement in their own right), from post-slavery, through Garveyism, to the Harlem Renaissance and beyond.

Pomona — Kwame Owusu co-directs this chilling thriller which invites you to step inside and learn the true meaning of human suffering, in that place they call Pomona.

The Fishermen — Based on the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel by one of Africa’s major new voices, New Perspectives, in association with HOME, present Chigozie Obioma‘s powerful allegory of brotherhood, vengeance and fate in a new adaptation by Fringe First-winning playwright Gbolahan Obisesan

Curio (A Cabinet of Curiosities) — Danielle Bainbridge’s play follows an obsessive young researcher’s journey to uncover the true story of conjoined twins Millie-Christine McKoy, 19th-century African Americans, former slaves and freak-show celebrities. Toggling between the McKoys’ lives and the researcher’s pop-culture fixations, Curio takes us from lecture halls to musical sideshow performances, visiting classic American sitcoms and game shows along the way.

Didi and Gogo — Inspired by Waiting for Godot, this original piece performed by two women of colour brings new meaning to issues of violence and war, poverty, food, deserts, hopelessness and those abandoned in a time of crisis.

Hoard — Hoard is the debut play by Bim Adewunmi, senior culture writer for BuzzFeed News and columnist for the Guardian Weekend. Rafi and Ami are meeting their sister’s boyfriend for the first time. Then, their mother shows up out of the blue. Wura always shows up out of the blue, but now there’s a problem: she doesn’t know Brian exists. The three sisters have to face up to their mother, their childhood and the struggles which divide them. 

Metamorphosis of one — A solo show by Lydia Bennet ‘When asceticism takes an unexpected turn, cultural norms blur, and One is found buried in a culmination of emotions. As government policy leaves society wanting, one turns to her wild cat to awaken a thirst for change.’

Duckie — Duckie is a reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling with a message of tolerance and self-acceptance at its core. Family-friendly glamour and glitz takes centre stage as critically acclaimed cabaret star Le Gateau Chocolat breaks out of his shell in his first work for children, a classic tale of identity and belonging. 

Africa Weird and Wonderful — Njambi McGrath’s show presents weird and wonderful stories and facts from Africa, fun for all the family.

Century song — The original co-producers of global hit White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, and Scotsman Fringe First, multiple Edinburgh award winners return with a new work of visceral beauty. Exploring 100 years of Black women’s unspoken history Century Song takes us on a journey through performance, music, and animated art.

Artists of Colour Meetup — Part of the Fringe Central Events Programme for Fringe participants. As part of the conversation on race, colorism and art activism, Shaina and hosts the 4th Annual Artist of Colour Meetup. The event aims to bring together artists and participants of the festival to promote visibility in their practice and engage in the experience of being a person of colour at the Fringe. We’ll continue to foster artistic connections while exploring themes of healing and transformation as individuals and collectively.

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams — An unashamedly joyful mix of astonishing stunts and enchanted adventure, Circus Abyssinia follows the journey of two Ethiopian brothers whose dream of joining the circus became a reality. Plunged into a world of daredevil wonders, they encounter a host of other circus dreamers: dancing, contorting, gravity-defying figures, all weaving tales of their own. 

Rise of a Humble Poet — ‘Life can be so cruel and yet so beautiful’, come and join an aspiring author on a journey through a past full of hurt and joy, towards a beautiful and hopeful future. A spoken word show by Ali Babiker.

Sowhereto Africa — Old and new beats meet performance poetry paying tribute to South Africa’s legends. Experience the sounds and rhythms of the South African street life, with its contagious energy and invigorating vibes, through an everyman’s daily journey. 

A Gathering: Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Artists at the Fringe — Part of the Fringe Central Events Programme for Fringe participants. A facilitated discussion and gathering of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic artists and companies at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe. What have we learned? What would you do differently? How could we work together to make the most of the opportunities of the Edinburgh Fringe more effectively?

So that’s our list.

We want to see every theatre, spoken word and physical theatre show, written, directed, created by an African heritage artist so if we’ve missed any out, let us know.

We’ve got our travel and accommodation booked, now all that’s left to do is get booking these shows. See you there.


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