Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Amanda Wilkin: Recognition

By | Published on Friday 26 May 2023

I was intrigued when I heard about ‘Recognition’, which begins a run at Talawa Studio at Fairfield Halls in Croydon this week.

The play is inspired by the life and work of black British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and explores some important themes. 

I wanted to find out more the show and the team behind it, so arranged a quick chat with writer and co-creator Amanda Wilkin.  

CM: Can you start by telling us a bit about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who ‘Recognition’ is inspired by?
AW: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a British black mixed race classical composer who was born in Holborn in 1875 and grew up in Croydon. He had incredible success in his life and unfortunately died young, aged 37.

CM: What is ‘Recognition’ about? Whose story does it tell? 
AW: ‘Recognition’ follows the story of Song, a student at music school today, who finds out about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. This discovery leads her to new confidence in her place as a black classical composer.

CM: What themes does the play explore? 
AW: Black history, classical music, standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us, allyship and love.

CM: Who is the show aimed at? What message does it send? 
AW: It’s aimed at anyone who loves music, who wants to make music, who needs to know that we should all be entitled to make and participate in all kinds of music. 

CM: Can you tell us about your role in the production? 
AW: I’m the playwright and I co-created the show alongside the brilliant director Rachael Nanyonjo.

CM: Can you tell us about the cast and crew? 
AW: The cast is made up of seven brilliant actors and six extraordinary musicians, and the show has a brand-new score from the excellent composer Cassie Kinoshi! It’s a big team!

CM: Can you tell us a bit about Talawa Theatre, its aims and ethos? 
AW: Talawa is the UK’s outstanding black British theatre company, and has been creating theatre for and by black communities for over 35 years. Talawa’s purpose is to champion black excellence in theatre and reflect black experiences through art. 

CM: Can you tell us about yourself now? How did you come to be working in the arts, was it what you always wanted to do? 
AW: I played music from a young age and I secretly wanted to be in the arts, but never it thought was something I could do professionally. I was lucky to be encouraged that it was something I could try.

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? 
AW: To tell stories that have to be told right now. To be a good collaborator and to champion the stories and voices that we need!

‘Recognition’ is on at Talawa Studio at Fairfield Halls in Croydon from 1-24 Jun. Find out more and book tickets here.

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