The Classical Theatre of Harlem (Ty Jones, producing artistic director), Pemberley Productions and Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre are presenting “Sancho: An Act of Remembrance” at The National Black Theatre from April 18 – May 6, 2018, with previews on April 18-19 and the opening night on April 20.
This theater production celebrates the extraordinary life of Charles Ignatius Sancho, an African man who was born on a slave ship and rose to prominence as a noted abolitionist, composer, social satirist and man of refinement in 18th century English society. Sancho makes his mark in history by becoming the first British-African to cast a vote in England in 1774.
In this one-man show, written, conceived and helmed by one of the United Kingdom’s most lauded stage and film actors Paterson Joseph, Sancho’s remarkable life is unveiled while casting new light on the often misunderstood narratives of the British-African experience, which are parallel to the stories of many African-Americans today.
The play unfolds as Sancho prepares to be immortalized by Thomas Gainsborough, the famous 18th century English painter (whom painted Sancho in real life and was an acquaintance). The audience is granted a firsthand account into Sancho’s determined rise from poverty and servitude via the road of education, making for a truly remarkable life story. The themes of prejudice, xenophobia, and nationalism are topics that resonate today in modern American society and are explored via an elegant, witty, and often comedic delivery.
The show is co-directed by Simon Godwin, music and sound design by Ben Park, designed by Michael Vale with lighting by Lucrecia Briceño.
“Last summer, The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) presented ‘The Three Musketeers’ whose call of ‘All for one and one for all’ still resonates loudly in our minds. Given our current political climate and social divisiveness, I wanted to seek perspective and sanctuary by standing strong on the shoulders of those who lived and thrived under far more oppressive circumstances,” said Jones.
“When CTH looked into the story of Charles Ignatius Sancho, we felt he was a kindred spirit that showed us what resistance, intellect and grace could accomplish against all odds. He was born in 1729 on a slave ship but learned to read, write, compose music, poetry and plays. He was a businessman, a financially independent householder, held court with intellectuals and artists and was the first black person of African origin to vote in parliamentary elections. This is a man who painted a portrait of black excellence despite the circumstances of 18th century Britain. He stayed energized, questioning and pushing against the status quo with the arts as his sanctuary. In this spirit, CTH wants to share his story with the world to show how one man can enact change in the hopes of inspiring all people,” he said.
Sancho: An Act of Remembrance will be showing at: The National Black Theatre, 2031 Fifth Ave. (National Black Theatre Way), New York, NY 10035. Tickets: $20 – $50
Sancho: An Act of Remembrance begins preview performances on Wednesday, April 18 through Thursday, April 19. Opening night is Friday, April 20. Shows will continue through May 6. All evening shows begin at 8 pm. On Saturday, there is a 2 pm and an 8 pm show. On Sundays, there is only a 2 pm show. There are no performances on Mondays and Tuesdays.