Ain’t I A Woman?

Produced by Landé Belo. Directors: Marian Akingbade, Beverly Andrews, Landé Belo

A theatrical initiative examining the intersection of race and gender; written, directed and produced by black women.

Ain't I a Woman

We’re looking for actors, directors, set designers, choreographers and any other black and female theatre creatives to get involved in this celebration of what it is to be black and female.

Please contact Landé Belo to find out more about how to get involved.

Wednesday 10 – Saturday 13 July and
Tuesday 16 – Saturday 20 July at 7.30pm
Matinées on Saturdays 13 and 20 July at 3pm.

At the Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington

Buy Tickets
Wednesday 10 July at 7.30pm
Thursday 11 July at 7.30pm
Friday 12 July at 7.30pm
Saturday 13 July at 3pm
Saturday 13 July at 7.30pm
Tuesday 16 July at 7.30pm
Wednesday 17 July at 7.30pm
Thursday 18 July at 7.30pm
Friday 19 July at 7.30pm
Saturday 20 July at 3pm
Saturday 20 July at 7.30pm

Q&A with the writers of Ain’t I A Woman?
Our five fabulous writers of Ain’t I A Woman? will be available for an exclusive Q&A at the Tower Theatre on Saturday 13 July!  The Q&A will take place immediately after the matinée performance.  To attend the Q&A make sure you purchase your ticket NOW for the matinée performance on 13 July – do not delay, this performance will be sold out!

“No black woman writer in this culture can write “too much”. Indeed, no woman writer can write “too much”…No woman has ever written enough.” ― bell hooks

2037: The Burden of representation weighs heavily on Fin as she faces an invidious choice: self over cause?   Zuri, in her Upwards Spiral, is desperately trying to break free from the shackles of being a “strong black woman”…..Will Ngozi actually resort to self-inflicted grievous bodily harm and succumb to the physical and metaphysical “whitewashing” promulgated by Changing RaysMary, Queen of Thots optimistically ventures into digital dating….the perfect antidote for her self-loathing and depression….Meanwhile, Tiwa exposes the insidious impact of the economic crisis on her world and wonders why we are not all In Conversation about this or don’t we care..?

From a London flat to a dystopian future, a sci-fi mystery to a TV studio, five women tell their different stories, sharing their perspectives of being black and female in contemporary Britain…. 

Changing Rays by Mauricia Lewis. Directed by Landé Belo

labelled the angry black woman whenever I challenge the status quo

Enter the world of Changing Rays where willing participants can undergo treatment to change their skin colour from black to white.  Will Ngozi finally get the acceptance and recognition she craves by undergoing this treatment?  A dystopian satire offering a strong social commentary on western conventions of beauty standards and the pervasive impact on the black psyche. 

Upwards Spiral by Christina O’Donovan-Lopes. Directed by Marian Akingbade

 – It’s a prison of your own creation.  Locked in by the images of the woman you are meant to be.

Zuri is battling with the pain of assault but is too afraid to tell anyone.  Through this moving monologue we get a glimpse of her inner struggle, as she comes to terms with her new normal.

In Conversation by Eileen Gbagbo. Directed by Marian Akingbade

we’re not going anywhere until you get my name right

Who better to wax lyrical about managing personal finances than expert Dr Tiwa Sowunmi-Smith and what better platform than TV show, Inside Money in front of a live audience?  If only the host will let her get a word in edgeways….

2037: The Burden by Rukiat Ashawe. Directed by Landé Belo

They always want us to be “strong”, the one who everyone else depends on.

It’s 2037 and the beginning of the end for The Movement.  After valiant resistance in a 20-year war, they have been decimated by a deadly virus released by the other side.  Their survival hangs in the balance and their leader, Fin, has a very difficult decision to make…

Mary, Queen of Thots by Katrina Smith-Jackson. Directed by: Beverly Andrews

 – But if prayer’s the answer to ‘hashtag winning’…where’s my Academy Award at, Lord?!

Sick of rejection being the theme tune to her love life, Mary decides to bite the bullet and give dating apps a go.  Yet throwing herself head first into the deep end of messy love (and even messier sex) as a depressed Black zillennial definitely has its “kinks”…race play fetishes to name one! But as touch starvation and swipe addiction begin to wash over her, will Mary sink or swim in the murky waters of the digital dating pool?

Mary : Megan-Madaleine Freeman

Director : Beverly Andrews
Assistant Director : Noah Abdel Razek

For Ain’t I A Woman?
Producer : Landé Belo
Set Design : Bolu Dairo
Costume Design : Roxanne Ivy Roberts
Lighting Design : Nick Insley
Sound Design : Sarah Assaf
Composer : Isabelle Ajani
Movement Director : Lydia Newman

Stage Manager : Isabel Quiroz
ASM : Thea FitzGerald
Sound Operator : Anna Kidd
Wardrobe : Angela Large
Singing : Chaachi Deane
Videography : Tallulah Bells, Sean Clarke-Sesay
Photography : Tallulah Bells

About the Directors
Landé BeloLandé Belo’s directing credits with the Tower include Fix Up (2019),I can’t breathe: being black in a time of Covid (part of the Love [and Survival] Festival) (2021), Mules (2021), Leave Taking (2022) and The Gift (2023). Her acting credits with the Tower include Francine/Lena in Clybourne Park, multiple characters in Doctor Faustus, Prudence in The House of Bernarda Alba, Pope Joan/Louise in Top Girls, Jellaby in Arcadia, Cynthia in Sweat and Queen Elizabeth in Richard III. She produced In Hiding, a critically acclaimed show which premièred at the Tower Theatre in June 2023 and sold out its entire run, making it one of the most successful productions in Tower history and the first production as part of Landé’s initiative to promote black, female voices in theatre. Ain’t I A Woman? is the next instalment in this initiative.
Beverly AndrewsBeverly Andrews is a playwright, director, documentary filmmaker and the current immersive artist in residence at Britten Pears Arts (home of the Aldeburgh classical music festival), through the European Network of Opera Academies. An alumnus of two Sundance Institute’s film directors courses, she recently co-directed the Arts Council funded workshop presentation of her musical The Coloured Valentino. Her plays have been produced internationally, from the UK, US, India to Bhutan, earning her various accolades including: most anticipated play for Annawon’s Song at the 2020 Vault Festival; recipient of the Roland Rees Playwright’s bursary; and runner up (twice!) of the Alfred Fagon award. She won three international awards for I am Going to Make a Miracle (a documentary about the Arcola Theatre which she wrote and directed and was bought by Sky Arts). Sophia, a play which she wrote and produced, depicting the life of Asian suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh, will appear at this year’s Dhaka International Film festival celebrating the work of female filmmakers.
Marian AkingbadeMarian Akingbade trained as an actor at Identity Drama School and has featured in four short films and two stage plays at the Canal Cafe Theatre in London. Since graduating with a distinction in Masters in Film from University of Arts London, she has produced a range of short films, documentaries and web series. Her most recent film, Endswell (2022) focuses on the issue of toxic masculinity and how men often suffer in silence from not being able to express their emotions for fear of how they may be perceived externally. She works as a Public Relations Manager at a Tech Agency in London and also works to support independent films through her production company – MDMediaHouse (now 633 Media). Her focus as a creative is to bring forth new and interesting work by filmmakers and playwrights who have unique experiences and viewpoints about human existence. Aint I A Woman is her theatrical debut as director.
About the writers
Eileen GbagboEileen Gbagbo is a spoken word artist, journalist and playwright based in London. Her writing explores themes of justice, identity, climate change and migration. She was Highly Commended in the 2015 Slambassadors competition and is an alumnus of the Apples and Snakes Writing Room programme. She has performed at various institutions including the Saatchi Gallery, Victoria & Albert Gallery, the BFI Southbank and The Albany as part of Apples and Snakes theatre show – Cece’s Speakeasy. She is currently part of the Old Vic Theatremakers programme.
Mauricia LewisMauricia Lewis is a London based contemporary writer hailing from pre-gentrified Hackney. Usually dystopian themed, her work focuses on humans coexisting within technologically advanced worlds. Her short play, Admiring Ebony, was long-listed with Pint-Sized plays in 2018 , whilst her monologue Take A Stand appears in Team Angelica’s Lit Anthropology of dynamic new monologues for actors from under-represented ethnicities.
Christina O'Donovan-LopesChristina O’Donovan-Lopes is an Irish writer born and raised in the rebel county. Christina seeks to champion Black Irish tales drawing from the storytelling tradition in her Irish Guinea-Bissauan heritage. Christina works in Film/TV in London following several years working in law and politics in Scotland. Christina is a part of the Organic Origins 2024 cohort. Her work mainly focuses on mixed families, intergenerational curses, class, queer relationships and often-overlooked Black stories in rural spaces. Upwards Spiral is her first theatrical production.
Katrina Smith-JacksonKatrina Smith-Jackson started her career as a script researcher on EastEnders. She has worked as script writer on the Sky Atlantic show Riviera, on Hackney Wick for Bad Wolf and Channel 4, on several episodes of Hollyoaks, BBC children’s show JoJo and Gran Gran and on Waterloo Road. She recently developed the pilot for an original TV series for BBC Studios and Channel 4 based on her Screen Nation award nominated web series Shrink, a psychological thriller which examines the stigma of mental illness within the Black community. Winner of the TriForce Creative Network’s WriterSlam for her original series Tilbury Rush, (influenced by Katrina’s Jamaican heritage), her latest feature script, Queerly Beloved, was shortlisted for the Greenacre Productions and TriForce Creative Network Script Search initiative. She currently lectures at MetFilm School and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and has been selected on the Soho Writers Lab cohort for 2023/24.
Rukiat AshaweRukiat Ashaweis a content creator, writer and playwright from South London. As a creator and writer, Rukiat’s initial focus centred around feminist concepts on gender and sexuality, which she has been awarded and received nominations for from NAZ, SH:24 and Brook. After a degree in sociology and entering the world of marketing, Rukiat leaned more into her love of science fiction, technology and digital culture. Combined with her love of gender studies, she is now exploring the intersections between them all as a creator and through her fictional work.

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