Unfinished Business

PERFORMANCES SUSPENDED

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Curated by Edson Burton and Nancy Medina

Wednesday 2nd April 1980 and an afternoon raid on the Black and White Café culminates in a visceral confrontation between police and the local community. By the evening, the police were forced to retreat...

Welcome to Unfinished Business: a week-long series of events marking the 40th anniversary of the St Pauls Uprising, its context and legacy; furthering work kick-started in our 2018 Year of Change.

Edson Burton Writer
Nancy Medina Director
Cleo Edwards Designer
Ric de Mowbray Sound Designer
Mike Gunning Lighting Designer
Nadia Williams Performer

Alongside a series of talks, discussions and readings from some of Bristol’s most renowned and salient voices, for one week only our atmospheric foyer will host acclaimed musicians, DJs and poets from across the UK.

Each evening opens with a specially commissioned episodic monologue which, from Monday to Saturday, spans nearly 200 years of Black British History through the eyes of shape-shifting freedom fighter and timeless spirit of rebellion, Serena. Through her fight against racism, poverty and disadvantage, we come to understand the meaning of Unfinished Business.

... a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.

Martin Luther King

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Included in the offer: The Meaning of Zong Play Reading, Black Roots, Tan Teddy, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Roger Robinson, DJ Style (Ujima Radio) + Ric de Mowbray and Don Letts DJ Set

Olivette Otele: In Conversation

Venue:
Equiano Studio (Coopers’ Loft)
Price:
Free (ticketed)
Duration:
45 mins
  • 1:00pm

The Meaning of Zong

Play Reading
Venue:
Equiano Studio (Coopers’ Loft)
Price:
£5
Duration:
1 hr 45 mins, including an interval

Written by, starring and directed by Olivier Award-winner Giles Terera.

Giles Terera’s debut play examines the massacre aboard the slave ship Zong in 1781 and the repercussions of these events which influenced the growing abolition movement in the UK.

An acclaimed actor, musician and filmmaker, Giles Terera MBE is best known for his work in the theatre, particularly as Aaron Burr in the original London cast of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton – The Musical, for which he won the 2018 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

  • 6:00pm

Black Roots

Venue:
Foyer Stage
Price:
£12

Get ready to enjoy some deep, melodic, roots reggae rhythm. Seminal Bristol reggae band Black Roots exploded onto the scene in 1981. Their uncompromising voice spoke out against injustices and alienation throughout the 80s, spreading a message of love and unity that secured them a devoted following to this day.

Preceded by... SERENA

Slavery was abolished in 1833, but debt, racism and poverty kept the previously enslaved in chains whilst their owners received hefty compensation. What is Freedom if you don’t have the means to be Free? Until the freed and their descendants are given the means to be independent, Serena warns there shall be no peace.

  • 8:30pm
    Doors 8:00pm

Simba Tongogara: In Conversation

Venue:
Equiano Studio (Coopers’ Loft)
Price:
Free (ticketed)
Duration:
45 mins
  • 1:00pm

Tan Teddy

Venue:
Foyer Stage (limited seating)
Price:
£7

The South West’s only Jamaican folk culture group Tan Teddy, marking their 10th anniversary this year, are dedicated to celebrating and sharing Jamaican culture through song. 

Preceded by… SERENA

The first generation of migrants to Britain came with high expectations of a better life. What happened when the second generation find themselves caught between the vibrant cultures of their parents and the realities of life in Britain? Bright, feisty teenager Serena finds herself in a bittersweet new world.

  • 8:30pm
    Doors 8:00pm
Wellbeing Workshop

Freedom Through Singing

How singing can bring you wellbeing, good health, courage and healing
Venue:
Equiano Studio (Coopers’ Loft)
Price:
Free (ticketed)
Duration:
90 mins

Over 2.8 million people sing in choirs in Britain, with recent research showing that singing can help people overcome loneliness, anxiety, grief, depression, low self-esteem, muscle tension, poor posture and language impediments.

Come along to see, hear and experience the benefit of finding your voice and living in freedom. Everyone has a song to sing! Where do you fit in?

Workshop leader Robert Short has studied the human voice for 35 years, working as a vocal coach, classically trained opera singer, choir master and academic.

  • 1:00pm

Linton Kwesi Johnson and Roger Robinson

Plus Vanessa Melody, Stephen Bladgrove, Fellow Dread & Muneera Pilgrim
Venue:
Foyer Stage (limited seating)
Price:
£12

Urban Word Collective presents Lyrically Justified: a platform for some of the UK’s most talented and diverse poets, wordsmiths and storytellers, from the emerging to the established.

  • World-renowned Jamaican-born dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson has been a cultural icon for black British artists since the 70s. The founder of dub poetry (a blend of reggae music and spoken voice), he is the only black poet, to have been published by Penguin Classics.
  • Writer, educator and dub poet Roger Robinson is the winner of the 2019 TS Eliot Prize and his latest collection A Portable Paradise was selected as a New Statesman book of the year. He was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon.
  • Vanessa Melody is a flourishing singer, lyricist and performer, who warms hearts with hope, and tackles fear, suppression and isolation with bittersweet wise words and melodic tones.
  • Inspired by traditional folk tales and song, Stephen Bladgrove AKA Blaggy takes no unwilling prisoners on his percussive and song-filled journeys through time and societal adversity.
  • Rhythmic poet Fellow Dread emerged from sound system roots and culture, and represents his diaspora as much as his UK heritage. Like any of the greats, he informs without apology.
  • Previously part of Hip Hop Hijabis, both gracious and powerful in her outlook, Muneera Pilgrim recently featured with TED X (Bristol), with her unique, captivating and vibrant spoken word.

Preceded by… SERENA

Before the Race Relations Act of 1965, Black Britons were faced with unmitigated rejection and alienation. What was the toll on communities and individuals? Serena battles against the impact of the negativity she has faced. Will the spirit of resistance of her ancestors keep her from collapse?

  • 8:30pm
    Doors 8:00pm

Panel Discussion: Inna City Pressures

with Jamaica Saouda, Clement McCarthy and Cathy Lecointe
Venue:
Equiano Studio (Coopers’ Loft)
Price:
Free (ticketed)
Duration:
45 mins

The police raid on the Black and White Café was the catalyst for the St Pauls Uprising, but there were other long-term factors. Activists Cathy Lecointe, Clement McCarthy and Jamaica Saouda discuss the pressures facing the second generation of Black Britons growing up in the frequently hostile Bristol environment.

  • 1:00pm

Lawrence Hoo: In Conversation

Venue:
Equiano Studio (Coopers’ Loft)
Price:
Free (ticketed)
Duration:
60 mins
  • 7:00pm

DJ Style (Ujima Radio) + Ric de Mowbray

Venue:
Foyer Stage (limited seating)
Price:
£7

Be prepared for an audio-visual assault created by DJ Style (Ujima Radio) and soundscape artist Ric de Mowbray. Instrumental in establishing the hip-hop RnB scene in Bristol, DJ Style has performed alongside the likes of Daddy G, Westwood and Roni Size, and supported Donell Jones, Tribe Called Quest and Massive Attack. His Code of the Streets radio show has been a constant in Ujima’s Saturday night programme for over 12 years.

Preceded by… SERENA

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of the St Pauls Uprising. What pressures led young mostly Black Bristolians to take action that day? Against the odds, Serena has become a successful professional, but the anger she has suppressed on her journey comes to the surface when a tragedy unfolds in front of her eyes.

  • 8:30pm
    Doors 8:00pm

Panel Discussion: After the Fire

with Sado Jirde, William Ackah and Simba Tongogara
Venue:
Equiano Studio (Coopers’ Loft)
Price:
Free (ticketed)
Duration:
45 mins

The St Pauls Uprising was followed by a wave of urban uprisings across Bristol’s inner cities. Despite the rhetoric of law and order, the riots alerted the British government to the threat to social order caused by deprivation and discrimination. In a bid to bring the ‘left behinds’ into the mainstream, policies designed offered investment and incentives to promote Black Businesses and third sector agencies. Yet recently, the Runnymede report still shows Bristol is the most unequal of Britain’s core cities. Dr William Ackah, activist Simba Tongogara and Sado Jirde (Black South West Network) discuss these post-uprising policies; the successes and the failures. What went wrong?

  • 1:00pm

Your City. Your Voice.

City Conversation V
Venue:
Theatre (unreserved)
Price:
Free
Duration:
2 hours

In 2017, The Runnymede Trust published a report that identified Bristol as being “the most segregated core city in the UK”. In response to this came City Conversations, a series of events held in different parts of the city. Four pledges emerged, exploring how we can tackle racial division in Bristol.

It’s now 2020 – but what change has been made and what can we all be doing to further the conversation?

Building on the legacy of City Conversations, we are handing the stage over to the young people of Rising Arts Agency, a social enterprise run by a community of Bristol’s young creative thinkers, to facilitate a different conversation. They will host a dynamic sharing event celebrating the work being done as a result of these pledges across the city to bring us together.

This event will be focused around the themes of young people, workforce, leadership and legacy to recognise the work that is being done in the community and join the dots. Maybe you’re curious about what positive work is being done? Maybe you’re eager to find ways you can contribute to creating change? Or maybe you want to meet the people behind some exciting initiatives? Whatever your reason is, we want you in the space! This is an open invitation to Bristol’s residents to engage, listen and inspire.

BSL interpreted | Free crèche | Free tea and coffee

  • 6:00pm

Don Letts DJ Set

Venue:
Foyer Stage (limited seating)
Price:
£12

Spend Friday night with the legendary broadcaster, DJ, film-maker and social commentator Don Letts as he plays a party vibe reggae set in the striking atrium of Bristol Old Vic.

Don Letts came to notoriety in the late 70s as the DJ that single-handedly turned a whole generation of punks onto reggae. After his seminal first film The Punk Rock Movie, he directed hundreds of music videos for an eclectic mix of artists from Public Image to Bob Marley, and documentaries covering the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, The Jam, Sun Ra and Paul McCartney. Today he presents Culture Clash Radio on BBC 6 Music and DJs nationally and internationally.

Preceded by… SERENA

The St Pauls Uprising was the first in a wave of inner-city uprisings across the UK. But decades later, Bristol, like the rest of the UK, remains a society divided. Are we really serious about social change? Our older veteran campaigner doesn’t think so. Serena’s penultimate monologue of the week is a sharp critique of what we profess and what happens in reality.

  • 8:30pm
    Doors 8:00pm

DJ Angel Mel

Venue:
Theatre (unreserved), then Foyer Stage (limited seating)
Price:
Free (unticketed)

Unfinished Business closes with a unique Rebel Anthem set by DJ Angel Mel. Dance has been the engine of defiance in Black History, let us not forget, let us work harder, let us come together for this night – let’s dance.

Preceded by… SERENA

Bristol Old Vic Young Company and Boomsatsuma respond to themes of disempowerment, alienation and discrimination, and present their vision for a future Bristol. Will they persuade our tired warrior Serena to lay down her arms? Is our city ready for new beginning?

Presented as part of the final Springboard: Our Future Bristol showcase.

  • 8:30pm
    SERENA | Theatre (Doors 8:15pm)
  • 9:15pm
    DJ Angel Mel | Foyer Stage