I had this amazing opportunity to show my play Down Hair (which I won for the Student Guide to Writing) at Rich Mix as part of Tamasha’s Emerging Producer Placement that I am on along with two amazing theatre-makers. One week to go and all but one of my actors had to pull out and at this point I was already on Plan C as a few other things had go wrong along the way.
My Plan D is now a one-girl-show. A young person I have mentored and known for a long time is my star. She’s playing me and taking on board all the pressure and stress of carrying a performance on her own. Down Hair is about Nikki. We meet her putting in hair clips and scrunchie’s into her foster dad’s hair. He, along with her foster mum, her best friend Lyndsey and all of the people that live in St Oakley have down hair. Nikki does not. She is obsessed with hair that sways rather than bounces, especially her ‘friend’ Lyndsey’s. Lyndsey is obsessed that Nikki’s dad is Frank Bruno. Except that he is isn’t. It’s 1989 and no one aged 10 in St Oakley has ever met anyone black before. Nikki is asked why her hair feels like wool or why does her skin tastes like chocolate. She doesn’t have the answers. Very soon everything starts to not make sense. Maybe she is different. Maybe Frank Bruno is her dad, She finds solace in her dolls. They don’t ask her questions, but accept her for who she is.
Down Hair is a special story written by someone who lived much of Nikki’s life – me. A little girl lost, finding her identity and getting a lot of life wrong because of it. This is a story that resonates now just as much as it did back in the late 80’s. Some of the girls I mentor go through identity issues. Darker skinned girls wanting to be lighter. Lighter skinned girls feeling pressure to look like the girls on TV or Instagram. The original play for Down Hair (Plan A) features a 6-strong cast, but whether Plan A or Plan D are being performed, the main thing for me is that the themes of the play are being put out there. The message is getting put out there.
Down Hair Reimagined – Saturday 6th August, 530pm, Rich Mix