“It was a great honour to be the first winner of the Award."
Roy Williams, winner 1997 and 2010
Supported by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation
Soul by Roy Williams

Soul by Roy Williams

Roy has narrowed the narrative lens of the play to focus on just two chapters in Marvin’s life story. These are the first and final chapters of his life: his “House of God” family upbringing in Washington DC and his turbulent final months in the “Big House” in Los Angeles. Soul is not a biopic of Gaye’s life. Instead it is a play which tells the story of how Marvin Gaye’s relationship with his mother and father defined his life and death.

Roy takes the loose structure of a Greek Tragedy further by casting Marvin’s sisters Jeanne and Zeola as chorus figures who emerge from our onstage Pentecostal Choir to narrate their story at the beginning and end of the play.

Like a Greek Chorus, they challenge, interrogate, support and celebrate the actions of their brother. As the only two living members of Marvin’s family to have witnessed both his upbringing and his demise, Jeanne and Zeola use the benefits of hindsight to try and understand what led to the tragic events of 1984.

Cast and creatives

Marvin Gaye Nathan Ives Moiba
Marvin Gay Senior Leo Wringer
Alberta Gay Adjoa Andoh
Jeanne Gaye Petra Letang
Zola Gaye Mimi Ndiweni
Young Marvin Gay Keenan Munn-Francis
Tammi Terrell/ Lea Abiona Omonua

Director James Dacre
Designer Jon Bausor
Sound Fergus O’Hare
Assistant Director Jesse Jones
Original music Gordan Banks

On tour

Soul is a co-production between Hackney Empire and The Royal And Derngate Theatre Northampton.

Running at the The Royal And Derngate Theatre Northampton from May 20th- 11th June and then Hackney Empire from 15th June-3rd July 2016

Roy Williams interview


‘Gorgeously staged bioplay’ The Times 

‘A gripping tribute to Gaye’ Daily Telegraph

‘Beautifully poised production’ WhatsOnStage.com

‘Keenan Munn-Francis is deeply touching as the young Marvin’ The Guardian

‘The pace of the storytelling is rapid… emotionally truthful and full of wisdom’ The Stage

‘The whole cast are fantastic’ Northampton Chronicle

The Guardian

The Express

The Daily Mail

Financial Times