Racial inequality has been a terrible aspect of life in general for a long time, which is why it features in so much of our artistic output, whether it’s films like The Help or more fantastical references to it as in Terry Pratchett’s Snuff. While bigotry, tension and inequality are sadly still a part of British every day life, it’s nothing compared to the open prejudice and inequality that existed in the 1940s, which is what makes the adaptation of E R Braithwaite’s semi-autobiographical novel, To Sir, With Love, such an important piece of work.
The book was first adapted for the 1967 film of the same name, starring Sidney Poitier and Lulu, and featuring Lulu’s famous US Billboard topping song, but this October it will be coming to The New Theatre, Cardiff. This time around though, the novel has been adapted by British actor and playwright, Ayub Khan-Din, whose previous work includes East Is East and West Is West.
The production is scheduled to open at The Bew Theatre on Tuesday the 1st October 2013 with a short run until the 5th October, so there won’t be a massive window of opportunity to see the play. Tickets prices range from £9.50 in the outer edges of the upper circle to £25 at the front of the stalls and £112 for a box on the evening. Visit http://www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk/event?id=10904 for more details. Performance times are 7:30pm Monday to Saturday with 2:30pm matinees on Thursday and Saturday.
The story of To Sir, With Love focuses on young, black Cambridge graduate and former WWII RAF fighter pilot, Ricky Braithwaite, who faces the uphill struggle of racial inequality in post-war London of the late 1940s. When he’s knocked back for job after job in a bid to be an electrician he’s forced to look for other options in terms of a career, taking him into teaching.
His first job, and the only one he can find to take him, is in North Quay Secondary School in a tough area of the East End of London. With troublesome kids to deal with, Ricky has got his work cut out for him right from the beginning. However, he has the support of a thoughtful headmaster, within a forward thinking group of teachers so he gets a lot of advice to help him win over the baying crowd.
Matthew Kelly (Waiting for Godot) is set to star as Headmaster Florian in the production, with Ansu Kabia of the RSC in the starring role as Ricky Braithwait.
To Sir, With Love looks set to be a great addition to The New Theatre, Cardiff’s 2013 production calendar. With E. R. Braithwaite’s sharp, funny and insightful take on finding empathy, respect and commonality where at first it was hard to find at the heart of the play, it’s set to be another cool adaptation of the novel.
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