Following an international tour, Wilton’s Music Hall will host the London premiere of Sancho: An Act Of Remembrance, acclaimed actor Paterson Joseph’s one-man play that tells the extraordinary unknown story of Charles Ignatius Sancho, English gentleman, socialite, composer, writer, abolitionist and first Afro-Briton to vote in Britain.
Sancho was conceived, written and performed by Paterson Joseph (NT’s Emperor Jones, RSC’s Julius Caesar, Peep Show and Green Wing) after years of wanting to star in a period drama but finding that the only stories about black Britons before the 20th century were that of slavery and therefore limited roles for black actors. He was fascinated then to discover the story of Sancho and his incredible, unique life.
Born on a slave ship in 1729 and educated in London in secret, Sancho spent his early life working as a butler for aristocratic families in South London where he immersed himself in music, poetry, reading and writing. He went on to own a greengrocers in Westminster, mixing with notable actors, writers and musicians, before becoming the first British-African to vote in a British election. He was immortalized by the great English painter Thomas Gainsborough and became a fierce voice in the abolitionism movement and a symbol of the immorality of the slave trade. In a largely white society, Sancho’s life was not just unusual but completely unprecedented, and it was for this reason that Joseph decided to bring his story to life on stage.
This revealing and funny one-man show casts a light on the widely unknown and often-misunderstood narratives of the African-Britain experience; Joseph cleverly takes audiences through Sancho’s early years in 18th Century London and explores his ascent into middle class society. Co-directed by Simon Godwin (Associate Director, National Theatre), this is a true exploration of the curious, daringly determined and intelligent man who plays a remarkable yet relatively unknown role in the history of Britain.
Paterson Joseph says “Charles Ignatius’ dream was to travel to America, we achieved that for him. I’m even more excited to bring the most forgotten man in British history to his, and my, hometown at the beautiful Wilton’s Music Hall.”