Jacob Roberts-Mensah and Ebenezer Bamgboye – Director of Nouveau Riche‘s ‘For Black Boys’ – reflect on their experience of participating in Boundless Accelerator and working on the play, exploring young Black British Masculinity in the rehearsal room.
The Boundless Accelerator project was instrumental and served as a catalyst for this project.
It was a very rewarding experience directing this piece. Going in, Ryan gave me about 60-90 minutes worth of text that comprised partly of stuff he had written over the past few days and partly of pieces he had written over the years. A week or two before Ryan put this together we met to chat about the concept of the piece.
We talked about it being something that explores young Black British masculinity in its fullness whilst examining the factors that disproportionately leads this demographic to suicide.
In that discussion we mutually agreed that the best course of action would be to establish a context/reference point that the piece can continuously come back to, namely a therapy room for young men, whilst simultaneously straying away from this context and delving into the lives and past experiences of these men. We agreed that this would stop the audience getting lost in space in the vignette heavy structure of the text.
The key task of the R&D week was to test whether the piece worked conceptually and explore infusing the piece with other elements such as music and movement.
A further key challenge was to somehow produce a bite size version of the piece that used a maximum of half of all the material but also communicated the fullness of what this piece is.
Ultimately, our conclusion from engaging with our audience was that the piece works well and an audience is sustained watching it. My ideas for this piece go far beyond what we made in this R&D in that, with funding and a proper design team, I have lots of amazing ideas for it. Nonetheless, the week was able to assure me that the piece has legs and I am excited to see where it might go next.We felt supported the whole way through.
The Accelerator project was so helpful because as an artist you’re trying to experiment and try new ideas and it can feel like a tightrope but this programme made us feel protected and supported