The latest play from critically acclaimed theatre artist and Queen Mary University of London lecturer Dr Mojisola Adebayo explores the politics of pleasure through an Afro-futurist space odyssey.
STARS follows an older woman we know simply as ‘Mrs’ on a sensitive but entertaining journey sparked by three encounters: a young neighbour who discloses a traumatic experience, an old friend who reveals a stigmatised secret, and a would-be lover who invites her to think differently.
Despite its serious subject matter, the central message is moving and uplifting, encouraging survivors of trauma to reclaim their sense of joy – which explains why the play transforms into a club night for special Saturday ‘lates’, so the audience can revel in feelings unleashed by the show.
Dr Adebayo commented: “STARS is all about things kept secret and the need to open up these deep, mature conversations. It’s a fine balance of being funny without being flippant; putting the main character in outer space gives us some distance from the difficult ideas and issues being addressed, which I hope means that everyone can leave feeling connected and uplifted.”
Performances span six locations over six weeks, from 13 April to 24 June, with tickets on sale from individual venues at prices from £8-21. The tour starts at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) before moving to Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle and Liverpool.
STARS has been described as a “concept album on stage” due to its unique combination of acting with a live DJ and projected animation. All performances are all captioned, to make the production as accessible and inclusive as possible.
The production team also ran workshops offering a safe space for local women to explore the show’s themes through different creative processes. An installation of the resulting work will be open at the ICA from 13 April to 4 May, as well as being performed as part of the late shows on 22 and 29 April.
Dr Adebayo explained: “Community engagement was a big part of my creative process when writing STARS - working with cis and trans women as well as intersex people from different backgrounds to explore real complex human experiences of creativity and sexuality, while also getting input from activists and support organisations - so it was vital to keep that part of the production itself.”
Pooja Ghai, Artistic Director of STARS co-producer Tamasha Theatre Company, said: “Mojisola is an outstanding artist who has been inspiring and challenging perceptions of African diasporic histories through her work. Experimental in form, STARS is bold – in its fusion of music, 'Afriquia' theatre and animation, in its exploration of LGBTQI+ themes, and in its celebration of African mythology and folklore.”
Bengi Ünsal, Director of the STARS tour’s London venue ICA, added: “STARS encourages us to fantasize about a world we aspire to… forging innovative ways of thinking about wider culture, and experimenting with the presentation of the arts.”
STARS is written by Dr Mojisola Adebayo, animated by Candice Purwin, and directed by Gail Babb and S. Ama Wray. Mrs is played by Debra Michaels, with Bradley Charles as DJ Michael Manners.
Find out more and book tickets at www.tamasha.org.uk/projects/stars.
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