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4 May–28 May 2016

Papatango Theatre Company

After Independence

by May Sumbwanyambe

Directed by George Turvey

A world premiere from the multi-award-winning Papatango.

Guy and Kathleen grow their crops, raise their daughter, and pay their taxes. But Africa is changing, country by country. White farmers in Zimbabwe must now answer for history’s crimes. When Charles arrives with a smile and a purchase order, there’s more than just land at stake. With violence threatening to erupt, he will do whatever it takes to restore their farm to the ‘native’ population.

As truths are revealed and moralities questioned, are things ever more than simply black and white?

Inspired by real events in Zimbabwe, BBC Scriptroom winner May Sumbwanyambe‘s debut play is an unflinching examination of land ownership, dispossession and justice in a postcolonial world.

Starring Stefan Adegbola (The Christians, Gate Theatre), Sandra Duncan (King John, RSC), Peter Guinness (The Crucible, Manchester Royal Exchange) and Beatriz Romilly (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Globe).

Writer May Sumbwanyambe, 29, was born in Edinburgh a year after his parents emigrated to the U.K. from Zambia. Their family is split across Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. May’s grandfather was an elected Mayor in Zambia and an early advocate for the independence of all African nations. His father was in the government of the first post-independence President of Zambia.

Read a blog post from May Sumbwanyambe on writing After Independence

Special events

Wednesday 25 May, 10pm – live music event in Arcola Bar. With choral singing and drumming from members of the Zimbabwe Vigil, who will also be discussing their work championing human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe and challenging the Mugabe regime.

★★★★ May Sumbwanyambe’s notable debut play, presented by those remarkable unearthers of new talent, Papatango.
—Evening Standard
★★★★ A debut of astonishing maturity…a rare discovery
—The Times
★★★★ A strong debut...Passionate performances
—Plays To See
★★★★ Beautifully crafted...Echoes of Chekhov
—Hackney Gazette
Highly intelligent and thoughtful…A writer of terrific potential.
—Daily Telegraph
A beautiful production of a promising debut
—The Stage
Real eloquence and even-handedness…an insightful account of an impossible situation.
A promising first play
—The Guardian
Director George Turvey’s skill in marshalling four strong performances
—Time Out
Sparks of genius.
—Words of Color
A gripping clash…Sumbwanyambe’s writing maintains a cracking pace…Plaudits to the Papatango Theatre Company for its role in finding the best and brightest new writing talent in the UK.
—One World
Hugely impressive
—The Spectator
  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos

  • Photography by Richard Lakos


Stefan Adegbola


Sandra Duncan


Peter Guinness


Beatriz Romilly



May Sumbwanyambe


George Turvey


Max Dorey

Lighting Designer

Christopher Nairne

Sound Designer

Richard Hammarton
Standard £17
Concession £14
Opening performances (4-7 May) £12

Standard tickets are £12 or less with Arcola Passport.

Monday-Saturday at 8pm. Saturday matinee at 3.30pm. No performances Sunday.

Running time: 80 minutes approximately .

Suitable for 14+

Press enquiries: Amy Bramman (Kate Morley PR) —

24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL
020 7503 1646

© 2017-19 Arcola Theatre.
Arcola Theatre Production Company is a registered charity no.1108613. Registered as a company limited by guarantee in England no.5242988. Registered Office: 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL.

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