Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle

Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle

Some of the finest British actors, writers and directors, each with a personal connection to the Windrush story, tell the story of the Afro-Caribbean community in modern-day Britain through a series of monologues to broadcast on BBC FOUR from Sunday 17 Feb at 10pm.

Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle is a Young Vic co-production with Douglas Road Productions, in collaboration with BBC ARTS.

Set in the front room of an Afro-Caribbean home, the series explores the highs and lows of one family from the 1940s to the present day through their hopes and desires, challenges and shattered dreams.

Curated by Young Vic Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah , the series of eight 15-minute monologues is led by four female directors and has been developed by eight leading British writers.

Can love overcome fear? Can perseverance overcome ignorance and racism? What does it cost to belong? Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle challenges our collective understanding of what it means to be part of the Afro-Caribbean community in modern-day Britain.

Danielle Vitalis as Eustice in Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle

Eunice arrives into 1940s England full of hope and ambition, and we follow her dynasty across leaps of a decade to the present day. Each self-contained monologue links to the original arrival of the enthusiastic, young nurse. We hear of Eunice’s baby, conceived out of wedlock with a runaway white doctor, and of Cyrus – her knight in shiny overalls – who offers his heart and loyalty by agreeing to marry her and put his name on the child’s birth certificate, despite the fact that Eunice doesn’t love him.

“Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle is a wonderful entry point for anyone who wishes to take the psychic temperature of a diaspora generation. I’m proud to be associated with this project and I hope you enjoy it. We tell these stories because they are a gateway to understanding for our children.” – Sir Lenny Henry

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic theatre, brings together some of the finest British actors, writers and directors, each with a personal connection to the Windrush story, to tell the tale through a series of deeply emotive monologues.

The impressive cast of nine includes Vinette Robinson (Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Sherlock) as Yvonne; Sir Lenny Henry (The Long Song, Broadchurch) as the older Cyrus; and Montserrat Lombard (Upstart Crow, Ashes To Ashes, Love Soup) in the role of Samantha.

Gamba Cole as Malcolm and Elliot Barnes-Worrell as David
Gamba Cole as Malcolm and Elliot Barnes-Worrell as David

A number of rising stars feature in the younger roles: Danielle Vitalis (Attack the Block, Youngers, Afro Punk Girl) as Eunice; Clifford Samuel (McMafia, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and A Guide For The Homesick) as young Cyrus; Gamba Cole (Damilola: Our Loved Boy, Guerilla, Lucky Man) as Malcolm and Elliot Barnes-Worrell (Poirot, Jericho, Ready Player One) as David. Whilst, Jonathan Jules (Invasion Earth, The Battle Within, Dave Allen at Peace) plays the role of Kev, and, Olivia-Mai Barrett (Disney’s Alex & Co, Penny on MARS) is Michaela.

“This has been an incredibly personal project for me: as a storyteller I’ve felt a huge sense of responsibility in exploring this history. Having the chance to honour my late parents and the pioneering Windrush immigrants – as a generation begins to slip away – has felt incredibly moving. I hope that the series will draw viewers to question their own story and how we collectively move forward.” –
Kwame Kwei-Armah

The team of leading writers for television and stage includes Carmen Harris (EastEnders, The Crouches, Family Affairs); Angie Le Mar (Funny Black Women On The Edge, The Brothers, Forty); Roy Williams (Clubland, Sucker Punch); Juliet Gilkes Romero (RSC The Whip, Best Play Award at Writers’ Guild); and Carol Russell (House of Usher, Comin’Atcha, The Story Of Tracy Beaker). With a number of actors composing scripts: Clint Dyer (Royal Court Theatre, Scala Films, Theatre Royal Stratford); Nathaniel Martello-White (Royal Court, Young Vic), and Kwame Kwei-Armah (Artistic Director, the Young Vic).

Vinette Robinson (Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Sherlock) as Yvonne
Vinette Robinson (Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Sherlock) as Yvonne

The all-female team of directors are led by Bafta Award-winning writer-director Tinge Krishnan (Been So Long, The Exorcist TV series), and includes 2013 London Film Festival Best British Newcomer Destiny Ekaragha (Silent Witness, Gone Too Far); Christiana Ebohon-Green (Holby City, Eastenders, Doctors); and Dionne Edwards (We Love Moses, That Girl).

Lamia Dabboussy, BBC Arts, says: “Following the success of Queers and Snatches, it’s fantastic to once again bring television and theatre together in this way, supporting established as well as emerging writers, directors and producers to deliver this highly moving series of stories. It’s been wonderful to work in partnership with the Young Vic theatre and Douglas Road Productions in making this a reality.”

Kwame Kwei-Armah and Sir Lenny Henry
Kwame Kwei-Armah and Sir Lenny Henry

Inspired by Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, join Sir Lenny Henry, Kwame Kwei-Armah and host Afua Hirsch for an evening of lively discussion about the Windrush generation, Afro-Caribbean culture and heritage, and ideas around identity in Britain today. Find out more.

You can watch the series on BBC FOUR from Sunday 17 to Wednesday 20 February at 10pm each evening, or catch up later on BBC iPlayer.

Announcing YV:ID, a five-week festival of digital and live events around the themes of identity

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of Young Vic today announced YV:ID, a five-week festival of digital and live events taking place throughout February and March 2019, which aim to catalyse debates around the themes of identity. 

YV:ID festival will include: Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, a series of monologues commissioned by BBC Arts and produced in partnership with Sir Lenny Henry’s production company Douglas Road Productions, exploring themes of personal and cultural identity through the eyes of an Afro-Caribbean family from the 1940s to the present day, which will air on BBC Four in February; My England, a collection of fourteen short films by writers, directors and performers from across the country, exploring the notions of ‘englishness’ and English national identity, which will be released online in March ahead of Brexit; The 8 Club, is a web series investigating the notion of ‘toxic masculinity’, and some of the issues facing future generations in the wake of the positive social change brought about by #MeToo.

The Young Vic will host a series of accompanying live debate events at the theatre to run parallel to each project.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, said today, “The stages of the Young Vic have always been a place dedicated to asking the most profound questions in artistically compelling ways. It’s not just the art we invite into these four walls but also the discourse we send beyond them. After seven years in America, I returned home to a country which seemed amidst an identity crisis. YV:ID is a way to catalyse a debate about those perceptions, and, as part of our commitment to channelling work into the digital world, we are also bringing these discussions into the digital sphere to reach new audiences and continue the conversation outside of our four walls.”

#YVID

SOON GONE: A WINDRUSH CHRONICLE

Sir Lenny Henry in Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle. Photo by Carlton Dixon

Commissioned by BBC Arts and co-produced by Sir Lenny Henry’s production company Douglas Road Productions and the Young Vic, Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, are eight 15-minute heartfelt monologues set in and around the front room of an Afro-Caribbean home. The monologues, which will broadcast on BBC Four in February, follow the highs and lows of one family from their arrival in England in the 1940s up to the present day as they explore their hopes and desires, challenges and shattered dreams.

They have been curated by the Young Vic’s Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and feature some of the UK’s finest acting talent including Sir Lenny Henry (The Long Song), Vinette Robinson (Doctor Who), Montserrat Lombard (Upstart Crow), Danielle Vitalis (Attack the Block), Clifford Samuel (McMafia), Gamba Cole (Damilola: Our Loved Boy), Elliot Barnes-Worrell (Jericho), Jonathan Jules (Invasion Earth), and Olivia-Mai Barrett (Penny on M.A.R.S).

The eight films are written by a team of leading writers for television and stage: Carmen Harris (EastEnders), Angie Le Mar (Funny Black Women on the Edge), Roy Williams (Clubland), Juliet Gilkes Romero (Creative Fellow at RSC), Carol Russell (The Story of Tracy Beaker), Clint Dyer (Sylvia Plath for Royal Court), Nathaniel Martello-White (Blackta for Young Vic), and Kwame Kwei-Armah (Elmina’s Kitchen). The monologues will air on BBC Four in February.

As part of YV:ID, the Young Vic will also be programming a live discussion event hosted by Afua Hirsch, with Lenny Henry and Kwame Kwei-Armah at the theatre on 21 February, around notions of cultural identity and self-definition in the 21st century. Find out more.

#SoonGoneWindrush

MY ENGLAND  

My England is a series of fourteen filmed monologues from across England, commissioned and produced by the Young Vic and created by writers, actors and directors exploring how they define “Englishness” and what it means to be English right now. Half the monologues were filmed on location in the regions the writers are from, including Coventry, Halifax, Luton, Peak District, Plymouth, Middlesbrough and London, and the other half were filmed at the Young Vic, performed by actors from the local neighbourhood in collaboration with the Young Vic’s Taking Part department.

The writers include Javaad Alipoor (England’s Red with Christopher Eccleston), Michael Bhim (The Question), Ishy Din (UTB!), Kenneth Emson (Mayday), Lynette Linton (Simone), Zodwa Nyoni (On Belonging), Bea Roberts (Sir F. Mother Fucking Drake with Jenny Rainsford), Jack Rooke (The Game), Lucy J. Skilbeck (Big Ben), Stef Smith (How To Grow A Nation with Kate Dickie), Polly Stenham (Flat White with Ophelia Lovibond), Simon Stephens (she), Selina Thompson (I Feel Most English When… with Ronke Adekoluejo) and Jack Thorne (Luton? with Mat Fraser). Directors include Young Vic Genesis Fellow, Nadia Latif, and Rodney Charles.

The films will be released via the Young Vic website and social media channels from 25 February.

The Young Vic will host an accompanying event on 12 March, bringing together members of the public with politicians, artists and social commentators to explore the identity of a nation as it’s going through a divorce, and to ask how we define “englishness” in our potentially fractious society. Find out more.

#MyEngland

A Young Vic co-production with David Weale-Cochrane and Kwame (KZ) Kwei-Armah Jr.

THE 8 CLUB

Photo by Matthew Cutler

The 8 Club is an online video series exploring the notion of ‘toxic masculinity’ and the legacy young men have inherited from the ideas of masculinity as defined by generations before them. Each episode tackles the subjects that surround and affect young men today, focussing on provocative and often unspoken topics for men, such as mental health, money, sex, violence and personal relationships and how these topics are viewed in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the wider impact this has on gender politics.T

Participants in The 8 Club include JJ Bola, Michael Brooks, Ned Dukes, Matt Harvey, Roly Hunter, LionHeart, Simon Anthony Mitchell, Adam Pugh, Michael Simon, Jordan Stephens, Elric Stockley and Jamell Williams. The films will be released via the Young Vic social media channels from 11 March, and the Young Vic will host an accompanying live event on 21 March which explores some of the questions around gender politics which are facing the next generation.

#The8Club  #ManCanTalk