For Black Boys who have considered suicide when the hue gets too heavy is a profound, poetic, and playful new production centred around mental health in young Black men.
Produced by award-winning company Nouveau Riche and playwright Ryan Calais Cameron, whose 2021 film Typical was heralded as a landmark event in digital theatre, For Black Boys sees six young Black men collide in a theatrical group therapy session, letting their hearts – and imaginations – run wild.
Conceptualised in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2013, Ryan Calais Cameron began writing For Black Boys when he realised that no one had asked him how he was feeling until he was 26 years old. Located on the threshold of joyful fantasy and brutal reality, For Black Boys is a world of music, movement, storytelling, and verse where six men clash and connect in a desperate bid for survival. There are stories of father figures and fashion tips, lost loves and jollof rice, African empires and illicit sex, good days, and bad days – all enmeshed within a thrilling meditation on not just mental health but also emotional engagement and wellbeing.
For Black Boys pays homage to, and forms a theatrical dialogue across generations, nations, and gender with, Ntozake Shange’s seminal African-American feminist work For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Forsaking linear narratives in pursuit of a diffuse storytelling practice that brings to life the contested terrains of Black masculinity, this is a poetic production invested in the rich tradition in Black theatre, while continuing to push the form forward.
The play represents a major step for Ryan Calais Cameron and Nouveau Riche, with their largest ensemble and production ambitions to date. Commissioned by New Diorama Theatre, For Black Boys is directed by Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu. The production is co-commissioned by Boundless Theatre, which supported workshops in 2018 to develop the show by bringing together young Black men to share experiences supported by specialist and mental health partners (including the SMILEing Boys Project).
Playwright Ryan Calais Cameron said: “For Black Boys is an autopsy of the heart of a Black man. This is a show that is at once personal and social. The culmination of an idea that was brought forth after the horrific killing of Trayvon Martin, the play reflects upon what it means to be young and male and Black in the times we live in today. I am so grateful to have had the chance to bring it to life – and cannot wait for audiences, particularly young Black men who, like me, have rarely been asked how they are doing before, to experience For Black Boys’ powerful vulnerability.”
Rob Drummond, Artistic Director of Boundless Theatre, said: “Having supported the development of For Black Boys through Boundless Accelerator and seeing the show go from strength to strength over the past two years it is great to be see it land at the New Diorama. Ryan and the whole Nouveau Riche team are at the forefront of theatre and this new work, tackling black male mental health with their trademark soulful joy cements them as one of the most important theatre companies in the UK.”
For Black Boys who have considered suicide when the hue gets too heavy is at New Diorama Theatre 12 October – 06 November 2021. More information can be found here.