Story by Craig Broadwith | Photos by Tristram Kenton
‘Black Men Walking’ is play written by Testament (aka Huddersfield based rapper Andy Brooks) for Sheffield’s Eclipse Theatre Group, and based on a real walking group, who have been running health walks on the first Saturday of every month, since 2004.
Drama, dance, poetry and song, combined with great characterisation and acting give an insight into the African Caribbean experience in Britain.
The group sets out from Grindleford Café, led up the Padley Gorge by the aging Thomas (Tyrone Huggins), the post Windrush generation walk leader from Pitsmoor, who is troubled by the direction his life has gone in, and bitter about being shut out by ‘English’ society.
He’s accompanied by Matthew (Trevor Laird), a second generation Jamaican extraction, middle class, doctor who has come from Berkshire to practice as a GP in Fulwood.
He has his own relationship problems, rooted in cultural misunderstandings between him and his English wife, and these play out via intermittent mobile phone conversations and texts throughout the performance. The third walker is Richard (Tonderai Munyevu), a Ghanaian working in the IT industry and an unabashed Trekkie. Richard has issues with responsibilities his cultural heritage imposes on him, which he is no longer happy to submit to, and to the otherness imposed upon him, as an African man in Britain.
Three walkers happen upon a lost millennial rapper from Manor Top, Ayeesha (Dorcas Sebuyange) trying to deal with the implications of unexpected post-Brexit racist jibes and her inability to marshal her usual sassy chutzpah in response. All are caught in a sudden snow storm, become separated, and, in the course of searching for each other, engage with and challenge each other’s perspectives.