20 Stories High’s thought-provoking show Black digs deep at the heart of racial tensions in the UK today. We caught up with the cast, Abby and Craig (aka CHUNKY), to find out more about the show.
Who is your character, and what is their biggest value?
Abby – Nikki is 16 from Liverpool. She values other people respecting her values and what she wants.
Craig – My character is Precious, and his biggest value is his family.
Why do you think this show is important to be seen now?
Craig – The show deals with a lot of things that people don’t really think still happens now in 2018. I don’t think they realise how these problems and issues are still rampant, especially in inner-city areas where people are sharing ideas of tolerance and understanding. They forget that 15 minutes down the road it’s drastically different. For me personally, the importance is to tell people not to forget, and that their awareness has to spread outside of the immediate points of perspective. Which isn’t an easy thing to do, but as long as you’re thinking about it, you’re more likely to do something about it.
Describe the show in a few words.
Craig and Abby – Hard-hitting, up-front, risky and truthful.
Craig, where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics?
Craig – Some of the text was devised with the director based on the experiences of the character. I was working, not to a brief necessarily, but within the context of the story. Thinking, as the character, what am I trying to say. I think the hardest bit is trying to write something that sounds spontaneous. I have to give a lot of props to Keith (the writer). I don’t think he wrote as much as he thinks he wrote, but he did help a lot!
Would you say Black is quite a challenging play?
Abby – It is a really challenging play because there’s language in there that you don’t ever want to hear, and I don’t even want to say. But it’s so real and truthful and it has a good message at the end. It’s challenging as a performer but the reason I do it is because it’s for a good cause and the story needs to be out there and people need to hear it. It is challenging, but worth it.
What would you say to somebody who has never experienced a show like this?
Abby – We met a girl actually who said that she hates theatre, but she came to this and thought, wow, and she didn’t know that theatre could be this powerful.
Craig – What’s really interesting to me is the way theatre is devised, who’s making it and what voices are being represented. So I think, with a play like this, I’m not trying to twist anyone’s arm but I’d say, this is good, it’s worth a watch if you have the time.
What is the main thing you would like audiences to take away after seeing Black?
Craig – To have an opinion, or for something to be provoked. Even if your opinion is to disagree, that’s still something. Love or hate, but having nothing is probably the worst.
Abby – I think probably with young people who do have parents who are racist, I’d want them to walk away and think – I don’t have to have the same values as my parents, I can change my own mind and I can live my own life and do it my way.