‘You do not know me yet but I am the heroine of this drama. I am told that here I must give a taste of what is to unfold. I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent days of slavery and the early years of freedom.
‘I was born a slave upon a sugar plantation named Amity. I was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and when slavery was declared no more. It tells of my mama Kitty, of the negroes enslaved, of Caroline Mortimer the woman who owned me. I am to say that it is a true and thrilling journey through that unsettled time.
‘Cha, I say, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just see it for themselves.’
July is born into slavery in Jamaica and is brutally parted from both her mother, and her name. But what she retains is resilience, charisma and a subversive, spirited wit. This ebullient and life-affirming play finds humanity, resistance and hope in the darkest of times.
The Long Song is adapted from Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel by Suhayla El-Bushra, formerly writer in residence at the National Theatre Studio and whose work includes the forthcoming Waking/Walking, part of the NW Trilogy (Kiln Theatre), The Suicide (NT), Arabian Nights (Lyceum, Edinburgh), and Channel 4’s Hollyoaks and Ackley Bridge. Director Charlotte Gwinner was Associate Director at the Bush Theatre, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres 2014-16, where her productions included Waiting for Godot, the Sarah Kane season and The Distance.
Tara Tijani makes her professional debut as July, having graduated from Guildhall School of Music & Drama this year. Llewella Gideon plays Old July; her many TV credits include Small Axe – Mangrove, The Real McCoy and Absolutely Fabulous. Olivia Poulet (Caroline Mortimer) previously appeared at Chichester in Fred’s Diner and Top Girls; her TV credits include The Thick of It.