New Black Showcase: Spotlight on Angela NcNab

Posted on 20 October 2017

The Belgrade is preparing to present its fifth New Black Showcase, giving audiences a chance to hear stories from the most exciting new writers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. Four new plays will be showcased across three nights from Weds 1 – Fri 3 Nov, as script-in-hand readings by a professional company of actors in our B2 auditorium.

In this series of blogs, we shine the spotlight on the writers whose work will presented as part of the showcase, including Angela McNab.

What is your play called?
The Merchant of Port Royal

What is your play about?
The concept of my play is based on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice; however my play is set in Jamaica in the sixteenth century. But the whole play is written and spoken in Jamaican patois. It is about a Maroon (a runaway slave) who borrows some money in order to woo a maroon chieftainess on another part of the island.

Where did the idea come from for your play? What was your inspiration?
The idea came to me from researching my family background and realising that there I may have Jamaican Jewish ancestry. The Sephardic Jews fled from the Iberian Peninsula in the sixteenth century to avoid persecution from the Spanish inquisition and later the Portuguese Sephardic Jews were forced to do the same. They all found a safe haven in Jamaica as the island was owned by the Columbus family and the inquisition was not allowed entry.

At the same time several groups of runaway African slaves set up camps in the hills of Jamaica and were so strong and fierce that the English, who by now had taken over Jamaica from the Spanish, gave them the right to govern themselves.They were called the Maroons and made their living by trading in Port Royal with the pirates and buccaneers, stealing livestock from nearby farms and foraging for food.

How do you feel about hearing your piece read aloud in front of an audience for the first time?
I am incredibly excited about hearing my play read aloud by professional actors and I will be using it as an opportunity to make any changes that I feel are needed.

How did you get involved with Critical Mass?
My friend saw the advert calling for BAME playwrights and passed it on to me.

What one piece of advice would you give to new and aspiring playwrights?
Always be on the look out for new playwriting opportunities.