The Royal Exchange Theatre’s production of Rockets and Blue Lights had not yet had its press night when the theatres closed in March 2020. Lockdown Theatre Festival gives it a new lease of life on radio, using technological solutions to record the actors at home.
Amid the gloom of Victorian England, Thomas, a black sailor prepares to take one last voyage, while the ageing artist JMW Turner seeks inspiration in a half-remembered story. In 21st-century London, an actress finds herself bound by history – two centuries after abolitionists won her ancestors their freedom. The play retells British history through the prism of the slave trade. Fusing fact with fiction, past with present, the powerfully personal with the fiercely political, it asks who owns our past - and who has the right to tell its stories?
An ugly truth made beautiful
Winsome Pinnock’s play, responding to JMW Turner’s Slave Ship painting, is a timely contribution to the Black Lives Matter campaign