The Windrush scandal and an emotional story told in St Leonards
Poignant, funny, profound; experimental theatre company Explore The Arch opened the gates of Archers Lodge in St Leonards this month with perhaps its most significant performance yet.
The House After Windrush is created around musician Michael Braithwaite’s odyssey of recent months, the presentation marking the shift of a ship’s name from the symbol of a hopeful new future to shameful political scandal.
A lively production packed with music, fascinating paper forms that descend from a grid over the audience, and humorous use of objects, the play is built on Michael’s words, telling the story of having job and security snatched away and revealing the bewilderment experienced by those thrust into uncertainty.
Michael’s own story became headline news this year when the experienced special needs teaching assistant lost his job after his employers ruled that he was an illegal immigrant, despite having lived in the UK for more than 50 years. He had arrived in Britain from Barbados in 1961, and had worked at a north London primary school for over 15 years when a routine check on his immigration status revealed he did not have an up-to-date identity document.
The company has enlisted the help of Windrush generation musicians including singer and percussionist David Rohoman who played with Ian Dury in the 70s after leaving British Guiana as a youngster. Performing on traditional and found instruments including the steel tyre hubs and caps associated with Caribbean rhythms, the music taps into Michael and Dave’s roots.
The House After Windrush runs until August 19 at Archers Lodge in Charles Road, performances times and booking details at explorethearch.com. Tickets £14 plus booking fee, under 19s free (please book); also available, cash only, at The Bookkeeper Bookshop, Kings Road, St Leonards.