Rishi Sunak Slams London Theatre’s ‘Black Out’ Performances of Slave Play

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London (Parliament Politics Maganize) – Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson declares it would be ‘concerning and divisive’ to specify audiences based on race at Noël Coward

Rishi Sunak has condemned a London theatre’s conclusion to stage two performances of a play about slavery for “all-black-identifying audiences.” Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson expressed it was “concerning” that the Noël Coward theatre in the West End prepares to hold what it anoints “Black Out performances” during a two-month run of Slave Play, a Broadway production regarding race and sexuality.

The idea is not fresh and has taken place in the UK, with theatres in London having such performances as Daddy, by Jeremy O Harris, who also composed Slave Play, and Tambo & Bones, by the US playwright Dave Harris. Questioned about the Noël Coward theatre’s plans, the spokesperson stated: “The prime minister is a big supporter of the arts, and he believes that the arts should be inclusive and open to everyone, mainly where those arts venues receive public funding.

“These reports are concerning, and further information is being pursued. But clearly, restricting audiences based on race would be wrong and divisive.”

Questioned if this was a threat to strip public funding from theatres that stage Black Out performances, the spokesperson stated: “It’s a statement of direction that the arts should be inclusive. And I think that individual taxpayers would particularly expect that to be the case when public funding is involved.”

This would not seem relevant to the Noël Coward theatre, part of the Delfont Mackintosh chain of eight London theatres.

Slave Play, which will be released on 29 June in London and stars Kit Harington, best known from Game of Thrones, was a massive Broadway hit when it debuted in 2019. It was nominated for 12 Tony awards but was also argued. When Harris’s Daddy was acted at London’s Almeida theatre in 2022, the run included one Black Out night.

The producers of the forthcoming production of Slave Play expressed their “intent is to celebrate the play with the widest possible audience.” They stated, “We want to improve accessibility to theatre for everyone. The Broadway production was created of Black Out Nights, and we are carefully considering including this endeavor as part of two performances in our 13-week run. We will cast further details soon. To be clear, no one will be stopped or precluded from attending any performance of Slave Play.”

In 2023, Nadia Fall, artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, reported a Guardian article describing why it held two Black Out performances of Tambo & Bones.

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She noted: “The play throws up difficult questions around what it is to be Black, so the director Matthew Xia and I felt it would be good to organize a Black Out night – a chance for a Black audience to experience and reflect on the play from their perspective.”

Daniele Naddei

Daniele Naddei is a journalist at Parliament News covering European affairs, was born in Naples on April 8, 1991. He also serves as the Director of the CentroSud24 newspaper. During the period from 2010 to 2013, Naddei completed an internship at the esteemed local radio station Radio Club 91. Subsequently, he became the author of a weekly magazine published by the Italian Volleyball Federation of Campania (FIPAV Campania), which led to his registration in the professional order of Journalists of Campania in early 2014, listed under publicists. From 2013 to 2018, he worked as a freelance photojournalist and cameraman for external services for Rai and various local entities, including TeleCapri, CapriEvent, and TLA. Additionally, between 2014 and 2017, Naddei collaborated full-time with various newspapers in Campania, both in print and online. During this period, he also resumed his role as Editor-in-Chief at Radio Club 91.
Naddei is actively involved as a press officer for several companies and is responsible for editing cultural and social events in the city through his association with the Medea Fattoria Sociale. This experience continued until 2021. Throughout these years, he hosted or collaborated on football sports programs for various local broadcasters, including TLA, TvLuna, TeleCapri, Radio Stonata, Radio Amore, and Radio Antenna Uno.
From 2016 to 2018, Naddei was employed as an editor at newspapers of national interest within the Il24.it circuit, including Internazionale24, Salute24, and OggiScuola. Since 2019, Naddei has been one of the creators of the Rabona television program "Calcio è Passione," which has been broadcast on TeleCapri Sport since 2023.