What’s On: ‘Woke’ a 20th century African American experience at the Battersea Arts Centre

Woke A new story about the 20th century African American experience will run at the Battersea Arts Centre from June 10-27.

Apphia Campbell, the creator of the West End Sell-out Black Is The Color Of My Voice, brings a story of two women, 42 years apart, become involved in the struggle for civil rights against a powerful soundtrack of original music and traditional gospel and blues.

One, a notorious Black Panther, Assata Shakur; the other, Ambrosia, a present-day university student enrolling as the 2014 Ferguson riots begin.

Both challenge the American justice system, become criminalized through political activism, and ultimately are faced with the same choice: stay and fight, or flee?

Apphia said: “I was inspired to write Woke for a few reasons.

The first, in college I became interested in Assata Shakur when I fell in love with a piece my friend wrote called Poems from the Underground written about her.

I always wanted to find a way to use the piece.

“The second, when everything happened in Ferguson, I was living in China at the time and kept asking myself, ‘Is America this dangerous, that we need militarized tanks and police?’ “And I wanted to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement.

So, when I decided to start working on Woke I spoke with my writing partner, Meredith Yarbrough, and we both started researching about the Ferguson unrest.

“The final reason, was after I watched Ava Duverney’s documentary, 13th, I really felt compelled to do more to further the movement. I think if people understood the root of the Ferguson riots and empathised with the their fight, they would be compelled to do something – get involved.

“So, I hope people walk away not just feeling the need to become more involved in political activism and help the underrepresented in their own communities.”

Woke is written and staged by Apphia and Meredith Yarbrough and directed by Caitlin Skinner.

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