Inspired by the storytelling traditions of the West African griot, Sold tells the forgotten true story of Mary Prince, a woman born into the slavery in the British colony of Bermuda who went on to become an auto-biographer and champion of freedom.
Her book had an electrifying effect on the abolitionist movement, helping to free many Africans in bondage. Her words of the harsh realities of enslavement and how it felt to be separated from loved ones and to be owned, bought and sold gave voice to those that are often silent, silenced, ignored or spoken for. Kuumba Nia Arts and Unlock the Chains Collective tell this forgotten story through theatre, song, live drumming and dance.
The show’s first performance at Park Theatre, 18th October, coincides with National Anti-Slavery Day, in the middle of Black History Month. Sold, along with Flushed, is part of the Say it, Women double bill of stories celebrating women’s strength.
Writer Amantha Edmead said “Mary’s story is one of the unassuming heroine. Her strength and resilience to stay alive through the horrors of British chattel slavery, to fall in love, work for her freedom and share her story to help bring slavery to an end, was a huge achievement for an enslaved West Indian woman in 1831. I feel humbled to tell her story.”
In a Park Theatre first, this production is part of the Say it, Women double bill, which also features Theatre Unlocked’s Flushed, a play about the everlasting bond developed between the cubicle walls as two sisters come to terms with one’s recent diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). These two plays not only find an unheard female voice, but sing it from the rooftops, beaconing the listener and celebrating women’s strength.
Kuumba Nia Arts is a Black led Oxford-based touring theatre company that produces and develops work based on traditional African theatrical forms and aesthetics. In Swahili, Kuumba means ‘creativity’ whilst Nia can be translated as ‘intention’ or ‘purpose’. Their mission and purpose is to fuse contemporary creative performance styles with historical African forms that have been passed to the diaspora to create a theatre that breaks new ground, creating unique productions of startling authenticity that inform, surprise and entertain.
Unlock the Chains Collective was founded by Euton Daley in 1986 to explore performance poetry as a theatrical form and to develop a dialogue with various social struggles at the time (anti-apartheid movement, the miners’ strike, poll tax, etc). They performed at rallies, theatres, community events as well as music-based clubs.
Both organisations are interested in bringing Black History and their contemporary experiences and art forms to life through creative and artistic performances, activities and events. They have led numerous projects locally and nationally aimed at engaging communities, especially the black community, with the arts through storytelling, poetry and performance. Sold was performed at the Pleasance at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019, winning Best Ensemble at the Musical Theatre Review awards. It subsequently won Show of the Week at Vaults Festival 2020 and Best Show at Birmingham Fest 2021.
Sold is at Park Theatre 18th October to 6th November 2021.