Carnevale by Rebecca Prichard – Race and Gender in Performance
In her account of Black London in the eighteenth century Gretchen Gerzina writes “By the eighteenth century the work of all kinds of artists – Hogarth, Reynolds, Gillray, Rowlandson – as well as work by poets, playwrights and novelists… reveals that not everyone in that elegant, vigorous, earthy world was white….there were black pubs and clubs, balls for blacks only, black churches, and organisations for helping blacks out of work or in trouble. Many blacks were prosperous and respected…others..were successful stewards or men of business. But many more were servants or beggars, some turning to prostitution or theft. Alongside the free black world was slavery, from which many of these people escaped” My play Carnevale explores the lives of two black female ex-slaves in Venice in the eighteenth and twenty first century and is is a fantastical mash-up of languages and contemporary and early modern worlds. By mixing contemporary representations of race and gender with historical representations, the play aims to critique modern day trafficking and slavery and also raise questions about the way race, gender and sexuality are constructed in ’the (neo)colonial context’. In this session I will discuss the role of language and visual imagery in creating reflexivity around race and gender and ways to create counter narratives to the dominant discourses around race, gender and trafficking.
Playwright Rebecca Prichard is currently under commission to The National Theatre and The Royal Shakespeare Company. She has written plays for BBC Radio 4 and her play Parallax was performed at The Almeida Theatre in 2012 and shortlisted for the Brian Way Award in 2013. Dream Pill was performed in 2010 at the Soho Theatre and 2011 at Latitude Festival and The Edinburgh Festival and toured Scotland in 2012 and was shortlisted the Human Trafficking Foundation Awards in 2011. Rebecca’s first play Essex Girls was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1994, as part of the Royal Court Young Writers Festival. The script was later published in Coming on Strong: New Writing from the Royal Court Theatre (1995). Fair Game, a free adaptation of Games in the Backyard by Israeli writer Edna Mazya, was commissioned by the Royal Court and first produced there in 1997. Yard Gal which won the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright, was first produced at the Royal Court in 1998, and was co-produced with Clean Break, a theatre company specialising in work with ex-offenders. Her play Delir’ium was performed at The Royal Court and Tricycle Theatre in 2003 and Futures produced at Theatre 503 in 2006.
Rebecca has been appointed as the Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery Fellow at Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition for the 2014~15 academic year. Prior to this, she was a lecturer in the theatre studies department at Essex University (2011~14) and an AHRC fellow at Lancaster University from 2007~2010.
Image: Matrixial by Christine McPhee