September 05, 2022Features

What it means to be Black, lesbian, and living in Tāmaki Makaurau

The premiere season of Po' Boys and Oysters is coming this September!

After numerous postponements, Po' Boys and Oysters will finally be making its premiere on the Basement Theatre stage.

Basement Theatre's Company in Residence, Black Creatives Aotearoa have been so determined to get Po' Boys and Oysters on and Basement Theatre have been right there beside them as co-producers.

Black Creatives Aotearoa's (BCA) journey to get to this moment of putting on a fully realised show is quite the tale.

One of the greatest myths we face is that we are not here. Whether we hail from the great motherland of Afrika (a continent, not a country) or from the Caribbean or the Americas, the United Kingdom, or other parts of the diaspora, Aotearoa seems to have always struggled with the “African presence” - and this is despite the fact that our people have been here, in small numbers, but here, since the 60s. 

If you haven't heard of BCA, welcome to this news bulletin!  Black Creatives Aotearoa is a community of Afro-heritage creatives who call Aotearoa home and our collective numbering close to 600 extends across the motu. Deep at the heart of who we are is our commitment to building relationships. Connecting with each other and our community across this magnificent whenua, our Indigenous brethren, other PoC communities and our allies has always been our goal.

 During this time we have explored and stretched our creative boundaries, grown our collaborations and continued to evolve and shape ourselves as a distinctive community of Afro-Kiwis. Over the past five years our vibrant community has grown to include painters, playwrights, poets, fashion designers, techies, stunt artists, chefs, creative entrepreneurs, hair braiders, rappers, ceramicists, producers, farmers and more. We believe that everyone is creative and for many of our members it has been a process of reconnecting to their childhood joys, while for others blossoming into professional artists. 

We are thrilled that after two years in the making and two COVID postponements, BCA's very first theatre production Po’ Boys and Oysters will finally be making its way to the stage. In addition, we are so proud that this huge team of twenty-six (!!!) includes an all PoC crew (with the majority being Black and queer) and centres three incredible black women at the heart of this compelling narrative.

It’s also a fun and loveable modern drama about a Black lesbian couple living in Auckland who are experiencing the very real and familiar challenges of sharing some life-changing news with their loved ones - and hoping to come out unscathed. This play is also personal for playwright Estelle Chout who was born in the Caribbean island of Martinique and who moved to New Zealand from London with her family:

I rarely see someone like myself – a proud Black queer mother - represented on the stage. I wrote Po’ Boys and Oysters to give these characters a voice and provide a platform to a group that have rarely been seen or represented in our theatre.” - Estelle Chout

Estelle also has the starring role in the play and shares the stage with two other strong Black actresses; Layla Pitt, an Afro-Caribbean actress raised in Hawkes Bay, and Zimbabwean-born actress Sandra Zvenyika. Local Kiwi actors Andrew Johnson and Jack Briden round up the cast. The show is directed by Dione Joseph, Founder and Artistic Director of BCA and produced by stalwart BCA member and champion Daisy Remington. After well over a year of battling the challenges of COVID, this group of actors and their huge are ready to present this story to Tāmaki Makaurau - and we hope to see you there!

The BCA whānau