Theatre: J’Ouvert at the Theatre503, Battersea

A team of black women and non-binary artists join forces to present a rhythmic and vibrant testimony of womanhood on stage.

J’Ouvert is a story of two best friends, battling to preserve tradition in a society where women’s bodies are frequently under threat in the setting of Notting Hill Carnival, sequins and feathers.

The production is heading to Theatre503 in Battersea from May 29 – June 22 and will transform the theatre into the vibrant streets of carnival aiming to empower black British artists to tell their stories.

Rebekah Murrell is making her directorial debut offering a timely reflection on the black British experience and the sexual politics that are experienced at Carnival and beyond.

She said: “Staging this play is going to be a huge theatrical feat as we transform a black box theatre above a pub into the explosive, dizzying world of Notting Hill Carnival.

“We’re bringing together a team of the most exciting black women and non-binary theatre artists working in UK theatre today to create an experience unlike any we have ever seen, evoking the sights, sounds and smells of an event which is so much at the heart of London’s annual calendar and which holds immense social and cultural significance to everyone involved.

“We hope J’Ouvert will be a landmark production in what the play says, what it celebrates and how we are making it. I can’t wait for the world to see it.”

J’Ouvert’s writer, Yasmin Joseph, said: “Carnival is of personal significance to me. “Not just because it carves a space that allows me to honour my Caribbean heritage, but because in practice I believe it’s a powerful act of resistance.

“Throughout my life I’ve always seen women as being at the helm of the tradition, they are the purveyors and innovators of carnival and are fundamental in keeping it alive.

“This play is my way of reconciling with how Black women are often mistreated in the spaces that they pioneer.”

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