Reading “Les Blancs” with the All Welcome Reading Group
On 29 November, actor, director, writer and artist Anna-Maria Nabirye led the DLWP’s All Welcome Reading Group. The All Welcome Reading Group is an online discussion group focussing on fiction and non-fiction books, essays, plays, films and podcasts by people of colour.
“It was a joy to bring Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs to the All Welcome Reading Group. As an actor and director I am often tasked with reading plays- but also understand that is a very specific task. Plays are meant to be watched, experienced, heard – but now when gathering indoors seems like a world away, is there a space for the act of reading and exploring a play?
The task of reading a play was, “how do you do it?”- some of the group had read it aloud, some had read it aloud with others, and others had seen the most recent 2016 production online in the summer and then rediscovered the work through being able to read the text. There were different versions shared, as the rehearsal script is always different to the published version (as publishing has to happen before the play is finished in rehearsal)- which can be almost another draft.
We were lucky to have the rehearsal script, an unpublished version but a more modern piece perhaps, as it was created through a contemporary lens in 2016; the published version was printed in the 70’s. The play format encouraged a one-sitting reading, making it intense and immersive, and for some, hard to navigate in parts.
We discussed art as activism, how this piece of work provoked action within our group. How the title itself was a provocation. The intensity of the moment of a time captured in the work and how the form in itself creates a focus on a moment leaving the pre- and post for us to discuss and imagine. Lorraine carefully creates individual truths, pushes and pulls for each character, nothing is Black or White in this piece and we navigate all the shades of grey and how those moments live within ourselves and our own shades of grey. How, in reflection, our colonial truth is stranger than fiction but only the fiction is given space to live in our current society. Questions of how we have been robbed of this truth about the British Colonial past, so how can we understand our present were discussed and reflected on.
Lorraine’s work and the conversations around it asked us questions, deep ones that I will be working to answer day in, day out.”
The next All Welcome Reading Group session will be on Sunday 31 January 2021.Posted by sally on Tuesday 15 December 2020