Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky begins previews on the National Theatre’s Lyttelton stage September 21 for a limited engagement through November 5. Opening night is scheduled for September 27.
Lynette Linton, artistic director of the Bush Theatre, makes her National debut directing a company that includes Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale) as Angel Allen, Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo (Three Sisters) as Delia Patterson, Osy Ikhile (Sweat) as Leland Cunningham, Sule Rimi (Barber Shop Chronicles) as Sam Thomas, and Olivier winner Giles Terera (Hamilton) as Guy Jacobs with Lincoln Conway, Eddie Elliott, Kimberley Okoye, and Helena Pipe.
The play, set in 1930 New York, follows Angel and her friends, who battle to keep their artistic dreams alive. When Angel falls for a stranger from Alabama, their romance forces the group to make good on their ambitions or give in to the reality of the time.
Wiley, who is making her U.K. stage debut, said during rehearsals, “I have been waiting to get to London and start rehearsals on this production for almost three years now. Theatre is where I feel most comfortable, so to work at the National is a dream come true, and being back in a rehearsal room feels amazing. You get to really dive into the world of the play and your character with the people that you’re creating this with. It’s an extremely collaborative environment that allows all of us to be seen and heard, and makes me feel like I can be my best self and the best artist I can be. Black people’s joy and sorrow being portrayed on stage in a way that gives them dignity is not something that we have always seen in the stories told in movies and on stage, and this play couldn’t feel more timely in the social climate that we’re living in. I’m having the most artistically fulfilling time I believe I have had in years. My heart is so full.”
The production also has set and costume design by Frankie Bradshaw, lighting design by Oliver Fenwick, music by composer Benjamin Kwasi Burrell, sound design by George Dennis, movement direction by Kane Husbands, and wig, hair, and make-up design by Cynthia De La Rosa. The staff director is TD Moyo.