Could you put your white best friend on stage and remind them that they’re part of the problem? Writer Rachel De-Lahay and director Milli Bhatia have commissioned eleven writers to pen letters that say the unsaid to the people that matter most. This March the week-long festival of letters, My White Best Friend and Other Letters Left Unsaid comes to The Bunker.
Originally featured as part of Black Lives Black Words at the Bush Theatre, De-Lahay’s provocative act of letter writing engages with racial tensions, microaggressions and emotional labour, asking the privileged to step back to allow rest of the room to take up space. Inspired by the original piece, every night new letters will be given to performers to read for the first time onstage.
Some of the most exciting voices in the UK have joined De-Lahay and Bhatia to put pen to paper to tackle the most uncomfortable and thorny issues in today’s society with work from Bola Agbaje, Zia Ahmed, Travis Alabanza, Fatimah Ashgar, Nathan Bryon, Matilda Ibini, Jammz, Iman Qureshi, Anya Reiss, Nina Segal and Tolani Shoneye. While braving the stage with the unknown letters are the incredible rising stars, Inès de Clercq (Broadchurch, ITV; Jerusalem, Channel 4), Rosie Day (Watership Down, BBC; Outlander, STARZ), Tom Moutchi (Famalam, BBC; Twitstorm, Park Theatre) and Zainab Hasan (Tamburlaine, RSC; Shakespeare Trilogy, Donmar Warehouse) with more to be announced. Each night’s line-up will be shared on the day through The Bunker’s social media.
How do you start the conversation with someone you love about how their beliefs, their unthinking actions, their politics undermine, hurt, erase you? Reflecting on intersections of identity, the letters explore lived experiences – of people of colour, people who identify as nonbinary or LGBTQIA+, of people’s whose voices have been side-lined. Each night will be followed by a DJ set in The Bunker with audiences invited to stay and enjoy the space until late.
Rachel De-Lahay comments, “These are some of my favourite writers, who we asked to face some of their biggest fears and gripes about the world today. What we have now is a collection of brave and fearless essays of all the things most people tend to shy away from thinking let alone saying. And we’re going to shoot them out into the ether – for one night only – our very own Snapchat or Insta story of theatre.”