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Five Reasons To See ... Alex Wheatle's Uprising

By • Off-West End
Award-winning novelist Alex Wheatle was abandoned by his Jamaican-born parents as a young boy and spent his childhood in a brutal children's home. As a teenager he made a living hustling on the riot-torn streets of Brixton, but after a spell in prison he began to build a new life.

Marking the 30th anniversary of the Brixton riots, Wheatle presents his moving autobiographical story which journeys through the 1980s, made all more relevant by recent events.

Uprising, which is inspired by Wheatle's his best-selling novels, Brixton Rock and East of Acre Lane, is directed by Jatinder Verma. It is presented by Tara Arts at Deptford's Albany from 11 to 14 October 2011. Here are their five reasons to see the show.


1. Uprising marks the 30th anniversary of the Brixton Riots

Alex Wheatle is renowned for his documentation of the Brixton of his youth in his award winning books. Uprising, Alex’s one-man show directed by Jatinder Verma and co-produced by Tara Arts and Arcadia Books, brings his eventful life to the stage and was planned to commemorate the 1981 Brixton Riots a long time before the recent August’s unrest.

2. It’s topical - given all that has happened since Uprising was first planned as a stage show

Alex is often referred to for comment when the riots are under discussion and has a history of being interviewed and quoted on this subject. As well as having recently been on BBC London Radio as a guest he contributed articles to the Evening Standard and Guardian last month. Alex was also was interviewed on the acclaimed television documentary Battle For Brixton in 2006.

3. Alex Wheatle has led a pretty eventful life

As well as growing up in the stark confines of a Surrey children’s home, Alex’s graced the sound systems under the moniker ‘Yardman Irie’ at the age of 16, becoming a lively fixture on the Brixton club scene.

His lyrical skills are showcased in Uprising, which as well as the riots documents his prison sentence following his participation. Since then, he’s not only become an award-winning writer but was awarded an MBE for his services to literature and is a member of the writers’ organisation PEN.

4. Uprising is inspired by Alex’s bestselling novels Brixton Rock and East of Acre Lane

Linton Kwesi Johnson said of his work: “Alex Wheatle’s narrative is pacey, witty; his characters real and recognisable”

5. The show is part of the Albany’s Black History Month celebrations

Uprising is a highlight of the Albany’s autumn programme. Sarah Ellis, the Albany’s head of creative programming, says about the performance: “We're delighted to have Uprising at the Albany. It's a wonderful piece of storytelling that explores Alex's life.

"It's a very real piece of work, both funny and inspiring, that will connect with a lot of people, whether they're familiar with Alex's story or not. We're also thrilled that we're able to present it as part of our Black History Month celebrations."


Uprising runs at The Albany in Deptford from 11 to 14 October 2011.


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