What are the themes of your play?
A major theme of the play is the legacy of history and the ongoing impact of this legacy on the descendants of Africans who were enslaved. Another theme of the play is the significance, necessity and power of love in the face of such a history and the challenge of achieving that. I am also interested in the representation of painful subjects – what we choose to represent and what we deny.
Why did you write it and why now?
I felt compelled to write this play now partly because there are very few plays about the British involvement in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, although the impact of its legacy is highly visible and becomes more urgent with the passage of time. The story is usually told from the perspective of the abolitionists and I wanted to do something a bit different. I chose film as one of the subjects because it is the medium that has attempted to tackle the history of the transatlantic slave trade and I used it to explore the stories we tell about history and how we sometimes get it wrong. It is really important to me that while the subject of film is used to explore the theme of the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade this is very much a piece of theatre.
Which playwrights are you influenced by and why?
I see a lot of work and try to keep up with what I don’t see by reading plays. I learn from everything I see, so it is difficult to settle on just a few writers. I love the raw passion in the work of new writers like Kalungi Ssbandeke and would love to capture that passion in my own plays. I am also influenced by the maturity of craft and structural virtuosity of writers like Brecht, August Wilson, Suzan Lori Parks who all in their various ways wrote/write epic plays. In Rockets and Blue Lights I attempt to explore the relationship between the epic and the intimate. I am also influenced by writers like debbie tucker green and Martin Crimp who produce work that is challenging and experimental.
What do you want to achieve as a playwright?
I want to write plays that are ambitious and to take risks both structurally and thematically. At the same time I want the work to have an emotional impact.