WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link
Features

Black history month on stage: 12 shows to see

We round-up some of the key shows being performed around the UK for the month

Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke
© Brinkhoff Mogenburg

The entire month of October marks Black History Month. To celebrate, we thought we'd point you in the direction of some absolutely cracking shows out there at the moment led by black performers.




1) "Master Harold"...and the boys

Master Harold...and the boys
© Helen Murray

Athol Fugard's play, set in south Africa, is a blistering exploration of contemporary racial attitudes. The National's revival got some solid reviews and is directed by Roy Alexander Weise (responsible for the brill Nine Night). It also has a cast led by the amazing Lucian Msamati and the up and coming Hammed Animashaun – sure to be a hot ticket at the National this autumn. National Theatre, until 17 December


2) The Fishermen

It's been performed around the UK a few times, and now Gbolahan Obisesan's stage version of Chigozie Obioma's The Fishermen, set in Nigeria in the mid-1990s, arrives at Trafalgar Studios' smaller space. It got a glowing write up in WhatsOnStage too, so comes with critical clout. Trafalgar Studios, until 12 October


3) Death of a Salesman

Another show returning after a stellar initial run is Miranda Cromwell and Marianne Elliott's production of Death of a Salesman, starring two titans of modern theatre – Wendell Pierce and Sharon D Clarke. Considering it had a storming sell-out debut at the Young Vic it is pretty unmissable now. Piccadilly Theatre, from 24 October


4) Barber Shop Chronicles

Inua Ellams' Barber Shop Chronicles, which had a series of runs at the National and also at the Roundhouse over summer, is in the middle of a well-deserved and much-needed tour. The show is set in a series of barbershops across the world and is a complete blast. Tour dates in Oxford, Inverness and Edinburgh


5) Our Lady of Kibeho

At the start of the year Katori Hall's gripping drama about a divine visitation was a smash-hit in Northampton. It now transfers to London, as part of Nadia Fall's new season in Stratford. Theatre Royal Stratford East, until 2 November


6) Shuck 'n' Jive

Shuck 'n' Jive
© Helen Maybanks

Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong and Simone Ibbett-Brown have a lot to say in Shuck ‘n' Jive – about the way British society perceives identity and artistic output. But the show's two creators are having actors portray them on stage, in what will surely be a fantastic, insightful ride. Soho Theatre, to 26 October.


7) Dutchman

This tense look into modern race relations was originally penned in 1964, but is as sadly pertinent now as it was then. The show is re-staged in London and follows the ins and outs of an interracial couple during the '60s. Tristan Bates Theatre from 8 to 26 October


8) One Under

Winsome Pinnock is an awesome writer, so it's exciting to see her work being brought back to stages across the UK. 2005's One Under is retooled by accessible company Graeae and Theatre Royal Plymouth, and will feature a cast of disabled and non-disabled actors with all performances creatively integrating audio description and captioning. Theatre Royal Plymouth from 17 October before touring


9) Tina

Aisha Jawando in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical
© Manuel Harlan

The amazing Tina Turner got the musical treatment with this show which tells the story of how she went from humble beginnings in Tennessee to the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll. Aisha Jawando stars as the lady herself, award-winning playwright Katori Hall wrote the book and Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Llloyd directs. Aldwych Theatre


10) Motown the Musical

When Berry Gordy founded record label Motown in 1959, even he couldn't predict how far its influence would reach. It kickstarted the careers of the likes of Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and Marvin Gaye, and the label's story is now told onstage in a major UK tour. Tour dates in Southampton, Sunderland, Glasgow


11) Anansi the Spider

Justin Audibert has had a flying start to his tenure as Unicorn Theatre's artistic director, with his latest show, a staged version of a series of folk tales involving the titular arachnid, captivating audiences of all ages. Well worth taking the little 'uns to. Unicorn Theatre, until 27 October


12) Shida

Jeannette Bayardelle in Shida
© Helen Maybanks

We absolutely adored Jeannette Bayardelle's solo show, featuring a powerhouse performance from a leading Broadway star (soon to appear in Girl From the North Country in New York), all housed within a snug venue at the Vaults underneath Waterloo station. Until 13 October

Loading...