by Abi Falase & Tatenda Shamiso
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Cast: Flexible (10-20 performers, any gender)
Performance fee: £70 per performance (plus VAT where applicable)
A punchy and provocative story about democracy, power, and how we can try to build a better world.
A generation of young people has been let down. Schools are crumbling, the NHS is falling apart, and soon there won’t be a planet left to save. It feels like the people in charge simply don’t care.
Pushed to the edge, a group of teenagers decide to create a future for themselves, carving out a utopia away from the failings of those who came before. But if you rebuild a society from the ground up, how do you avoid making the same mistakes?
The Village was first performed at the Almeida Theatre, London, performed by the Almeida Young Company.
Content guidance: This play contains some violent and strong language.
About the authors
Abi Falase is a Non-Binary, Black British creative from South East London. Their work is rooted in creating productions that are, what they like to call ‘Feel Good Social Realism’. Wrapping big discussions about everything from race and gender to capitalism and economy in comedy, because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
Tatenda Shamiso is a London-based writer, theatre-maker and musician with origins from Zimbabwe, Belgium, the United States and Switzerland. He trained at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he returns as a guest lecturer in their Theatre and Performance Department. Tatenda’s writing was most recently performed at the Royal Court Theatre, where his solo show NO I.D. transferred for a limited three-week run. He has also written, directed and performed in productions at the National Theatre, Young Vic Theatre, Almeida Theatre Bristol Old Vic, and a variety of fringe spaces throughout the UK. Currently Tatenda works as a freelance writer, director, dramaturg and facilitator.
Interview with Abi Falase
The Village is about a group of teenagers coming together to create a future for themselves. How was the show first conceived, and how can future groups of young people take ownership in their own productions?
We started off The Village with a week of devising with the Almeida Young Company, so the work is entirely inspired by the group’s improvisations and suggestions. As the writer, I came to them with provocations and questions about what their utopia would look like and asked them to devise scenes around their answers. From there myself and Tatenda shaped the work into one narrative. My advice to for future performers is to feel free to make the lines your own. If there is a word in there that your version of the character wouldn’t use, then feel free to change it. I’m not precious. If there are jokes in there that don’t work for you, feel free to devise ones that will. Every time you do a scene, try something new!
The play explores topics like democracy and power. What drew you to explore these subject matters?
We initially reimagined this show in response to A Streetcar Named Desire, which was the main house show at the Almeida Theatre at the time. I personally was moved by the quote, “The grim reaper has put his tent on our doorstep”. For that particular Young Company, as long as they can remember, they have been told the world is ending, they are constantly grieving a world that they haven’t really got to experience yet. The Village became about how the world constantly feels like it’s moving and shifting around you and you have little autonomy over the future.
The play is for an ensemble of 13 actors. How did you give equal importance and weight to each character?
The plot doesn’t move forward without any of these characters, they’re all integral to showing the world we have built. There are scenes that you may not have any lines in but you are present and part of the tapestry of the The Village. It should feel like there are hundreds of young people living here.
Do you have any advice for actors performing the play, or for directors staging it?
Have fun! It’s meant to be silly, poke fun at yourselves, the system, your friends. Let it be ridiculous because the current state of affairs in this country is!