The world premiere of Suhayla El-Bushra’s adaptation of The Long Song by Andrea Levy will run at Chichester Festival Theatre from 1 – 23 October, directed by Charlotte Gwinner.
Tara Tijani makes her professional debut as July; Llewella Gideon plays Old July, and Olivia Poulet plays Caroline Mortimer. The company also includes Ben Adams (as Tam Dewar/Charles Wyndham), Cecilia Appiah (Miss Clara), Andrew Bridgmont (John Howarth/Baptist Minister), Leonard Buckley (Robert Goodwin), Pérola Congo (Miss Bessie/Molly), Miranda Foster (Elizabeth Wyndham), Trevor Laird (Dublin/Godfrey), Syrus Lowe (Thomas/Nimrod), Chris Machari (Cornet/Musician), Mohammed Mansaray (Boy/Ezra), Rebecca Omogbehin (Kitty) and Carol Walton (Miss Rose).
‘You do not know me yet but I am the heroine of this drama. I am told that here I must give a taste of what is to unfold. I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent days of slavery and the early years of freedom.
‘I was born a slave upon a sugar plantation named Amity. I was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and when slavery was declared no more. It tells of my mama Kitty, of the negroes enslaved, of Caroline Mortimer the woman who owned me. I am to say that it is a true and thrilling journey through that unsettled time.
‘Cha, I say, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just see it for themselves.’
July is born into slavery in Jamaica and is brutally parted from both her mother, and her name. But what she retains is resilience, charisma and a subversive, spirited wit. This ebullient and life-affirming play finds humanity, resistance and hope in the darkest of times.
The Long Song is adapted from Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel by Suhayla El-Bushra, formerly writer in residence at the National Theatre Studio and whose work includes the forthcoming Waking/Walking, part of the NW Trilogy (Kiln Theatre), The Suicide (NT), Arabian Nights (Lyceum, Edinburgh), and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks and Ackley Bridge.
The production’s creative team is: Designer – Frankie Bradshaw; Lighting Designer – Mark Doubleday; Composer, Arranger and Musical Director – Michael Henry; Sound Designer – Helen Skiera; Video Designer – Dick Straker; Movement Director and Intimacy Co-Ordinator – Angela Gasparetto; Fight Director and Intimacy Co-Ordinator – Kev McCurdy; Wigs, Hair and Make-Up Designer – Susanna Peretz; Casting Director – Charlotte Sutton with Chandra Ruegg.
The Long Song is sponsored by Seaward and by Wiley.