Kwame Kwei-Armah

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Plays by Kwame Kwei-Armah

Elmina’s Kitchen

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Deli is trying to revive the fortunes of his mother’s restaurant in Murder Mile, Hackney. But where does his son disappear to on the night of the re-opening? And why does his friend Digger offer him protection?

Elmina’s Kitchen is a thrilling, engaging portrait of a one-parent family struggling to stay within the law while the Yardies are carving up the neighbourhood.

Elmina’s Kitchen premiered at the National Theatre, London, in May 2003.

Fix Up

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

It’s Black History month but you wouldn’t know it in Tottenham where plans are afoot to turn Kwesi’s All Black African Party hotbed into luxury flats, and it looks like Kiyi’s ‘conscious’ bookstore will soon go the same way.

And then a beautiful visitor shows up in their midst and life goes from bad to worse.

Set against the inexorable march of progress in contemporary London, Fix Up explores race and roots with verve and wit.

Fix Up, Kwame Kwei-Armah’s second play for the National Theatre, London, after 2003’s Elmina’s Kitchen, premiered at the Cottesloe Theatre on 16 December 2004.

Let There Be Love

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Alfred is an elderly man, originally from the West Indies, described in stage directions as ‘quintessentially grumpy … a cross almost between Alf Garnett and Victor Meldrew’. He is attended to intermittently by his thirty-year-old daughter Gemma, who struggles to manage the pressures brought about by Alfred’s aging as well as the struggles of trying to make ends meet in London. But when Alfred’s new Polish home-helper, Maria, starts work in the house, Alfred finds a new role in life, and a new chance to make connections before it is too late.

Writing about the play, the Evening Standard commented ‘Initially, [the play] looks like an amusing study of racial and generational tolerance, in which a cantankerous old Caribbean Londoner establishes a rapport with his young, Polish cleaner that he can’t find with his two daughters. But it ranges far wider and deeper than that, decisively transcending issues of race. In a series of surprising turns, Let There Be Love delves into domestic violence and illness, as well as gender and sexuality, dignity and death, without ever losing its sense of humour.’

Let There Be Love was first presented at the Tricycle Theatre, London, on 17 January 2008 in a production directed by the playwright.

Seize the Day

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Seize the Day is a smart and pacy political drama about Jeremy Charles, a man who could be London’s first black mayor.

He seems ideal: a well-spoken, good-looking Londoner who made his name on television, and made his way into the hearts of the public by slapping a knife-wielding teenager. He’s idealistic too, and determined to make a difference to the lives of underprivileged black children. Jeremy’s even invited the teenager, Lavelle, to his house, to mentor him as part of his probation. But he’s about to find out that the harsh realpolitik of the campaign and the complexities of real life mean it’s not quite so easy to distinguish wrong and right.

A plausible examination of the issues of race in politics, Kwei-Armah’s dynamic and pertinent plays was first performed as part of the ‘Not Black and White’ season at the Tricycle Theatre, London, in 2009.

Statement of Regret

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Kwaku Mackenzie, founder of a Black policy think-tank, hits the bottle after his father’s death. As media interest in the once dynamic Institute fades, his team grows fractious and then, disastrously, favours a young Oxford scholar over his own devastated son. When, in a vain attempt to regain influence, he publicly champions division within the Black community, the consequences are shattering.

Taking a punchy, provocative look at the Black British experience and questions of solidarity within a racial group, Statement of Regret is Kwame Kwei-Armah’s third play for the National Theatre, London, (after Elmina’s Kitchen (2003) and Fix Up (2004)). It premiered at the Cottesloe Theatre on 7 November 2007.

Picture of Kwame Kwei-Armah

Kwame Kwei-Armah won the Peggy Ramsay award for his first play, Bitter Herb (1998), which was subsequently put on by the Bristol Old Vic, where he also became writer-in-residence. He followed this up with the musical Blues Brother, Soul Sister which toured the UK in 2001. He co-wrote the musical Big Nose (an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac) which was performed at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, in 1999.

In 2003 the National Theatre produced the critically acclaimed Elmina's Kitchen for which in 2004 he won the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright, and was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play 2003. Elmina's Kitchen has since been produced and aired on Radio 3 and BBC4. His next two plays, Fix Up and Statement of Regret, were produced by the National Theatre in 2004 and 2007. He directed his most recent play, Let There Be Love, when it premiered at the Tricycle Theatre, London, in 2008. He received an honorary doctorate from the Open University in 2008.