The Yard Theatre begins 2023 with the world premiere of Rhianna Ilube’s debut play, Samuel Takes A Break …in Male Dungeon No. 5 After A Long But Generally Successful Day of Tours which previews from 9 February (press night 15 February).
Directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike, The Yard Theatre’s Deputy Artistic Director, Samuel Takes a Break is a journey through colonialism’s impact on British identity. Set in Ghana’s Year of Return in 2019, this genre-blending story follows Samuel, a tour guide, and Orange, a ticket officer, at Cape Coast Castle. The cast are Fode Simbo, Bola Akeju, Tori Allen-Martin and Stefan Asante-Boateng.
When Black Britons Trev and Letty seek out their roots, suddenly, history isn’t what it used to seem. A seismic shift forces Samuel to confront truths and transform his relationship with history. Audiences will go on a soul-searching odyssey through time, space and one man’s inner turmoil.
Artistic Director & Founder of the Yard Theatre, Jay Miller says, “Samuel Takes A Break is a moving and hilarious look at the legacy of slavery. This play identifies that there remains cultural pain amongst the Black British community, but this is not a play that lodges in the tragedy of the events. Instead, it sensitively and powerfully evokes the tragedy, while suggesting that history leaves and breathes within us, in multiple, farcical ways. Samuel Takes A Break does not tell us what to think, but rather, the play encourages us to talk together, to feel together, and to understand together. It is playful, it is entertaining, it is bold, it is live, and that’s why Ilube’s brilliant play is on at The Yard.”
Rhianna Ilube is a playwright and events curator from London. Her debut play, Samuel Takes A Break, was Highly Commended for the Soho Theatre’s Verity Bargate Award, and shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting. She is currently a member of the Soho Six and an alumnus of the Royal Court Intro Group, Oxford Playmakers, BBC London Voices and Omnibus Theatre’s Engine Room. She developed her first TV pilot with Expanded Media for a Sky Table Read in May 2023. Rhianna was previously Associate Director at interactive theatre-makers Coney, where she wrote ‘1884’, a new game-theatre show premiering in Spring 2024. She is also a film programmer for BFI Flare and has curated events for cultural venues and NGOs across London and Berlin since 2015.
Director Anthony Simpson-Pike is a director, dramaturg, and writer. He is currently Deputy Artistic Director at The Yard Theatre and was previously Associate Director at the Gate Theatre. Anthony is also a facilitator, having worked with young people and communities at the Gate, the Royal Court, the Young Vic, the Globe, and the National Theatre. Recent directorial work includes the Olivier award-winning The P Word and Lava at the Bush; An Octoroon at the Abbey, Dublin; Living Newspaper at the Royal Court; The Electric for Paines Plough and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; and The Ridiculous Darkness at the Gate, London
As a dramaturg, Anthony has developed multiple seasons of work for the Gate and The Yard Theatre. Recent dramaturgical credits include Much Ado About Nothing for the RSC; Samskara at The Yard Theatre; Hotline with Produced Moon at the Tron; Dear Young Monster by Pete McHale for The Queer House; and Coup de Grace at the Royal Court. Samuel Takes a Break… will be the first play Anthony has directed at The Yard Theatre.
The creative team includes Set and Costume Designer Milla Clarke, Sound Designer Xana, and Lighting Designer Chris Nairne, alongside Video Designer Gino Ricardo Green, Movement Director Sung Im Her, and Casting Director Jatinder Chera, all of whom recently worked on The Yard’s biggest selling show The Flea.
Fode Simbo plays Samuel. He last performed at The Yard Theatre in Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s critically acclaimed An unfinished man. He graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and gained recognition for his role in Under the Kunde Tree at Southwark Playhouse, earning a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Black British Theatre Awards. Other recent stage credits include Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe), Young Marx (The Bridge Theatre), and SOLARIS (Lyric Hammersmith/Edinburgh Lyceum). His TV credits include The Reckoning (BBC), Andor (Disney+), Hijack (Apple TV), Vigil (BBC), Summer of Rockets (BBC), Philip K Dick: Electric Dreams (Channel 4), and Little Women (BBC). His film credits include Fisherman’s Friends (Fred Films).
Bola Akeju plays Orange. Bola has just finished leading in School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play at the Lyric Hammersmith, earning a nomination for a Black British Theatre Award for her role. She recently played opposite Bukky Bakray in The Girls’ Club and features in the third season of Jason Sudeikis’ Emmy Award-winning series Ted Lasso. Upon leaving RADA, Bola played the lead in KLIPPIES at the Young Vic
Tori Allen-Martin plays Letty. Tori is a regular in BBC 1 comedy Here We Go and was previously seen as a leading regular in 4 series of BBC’s London Kills and as a regular on Channel 4’s Pure. Further television credits include Mrs Sidhu Investigates (Acorn); Significant Other (Hatrick); Plebs: The War (the finale) (Rise films); The Other Half (Ranga Bee Productions); Flatshare (42 for Paramount+); Back To Life (Two Brothers Pictures); and Pandemonium (BBC). Recent stage credits include Then, Now and Next (Southwark Playhouse); Park Bench (Park Theatre); One Man, Two Guvnors (New Wolsey, Ipswich/Nuffield Southampton); The Season (Glass Half Full Productions and Tim Johanson); The Hardest One (The Other Palace/ Criterion); and Hair the Musical (European tour).
Stefan Asante-Boateng plays Trev. He is a British actor of Ghanaian heritage who trained at the Identity School Of Acting. His most recent screen credits include Wire in This Town for the BBC, CPS Judge Kwame Boateng on ITV’s long-running soap Coronation Street, and BBC’s Killing Eve. In 2020, he won a Screen Nation Award for Best Actor in a Series for his work on the web series Suffering. Feature films include The Fallout. Short Films include Tina, Meaning, It Takes A Town, Meet Me By The Sea, The Moderator, At Play, Grounding, Red Flag, The Other Side and 2 Bags. Stage credits include Eternal Ages: The Musical (Shaw Theatre), Brit Aint Right (Maktub Theatre) and Eggs In The Basket (Courtyard Theatre).
Samuel Takes A Break… In Male Dungeon No. 5 After A Long But Generally Successful Day Of Tours
By Rhianna Ilube
Directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike
Set and Costume Designer Milla Clarke
Sound Designer Xana
Lighting Designer Chris Nairne
Video Designer Gino Ricardo Green
Movement Director Sung Im Her
Casting Director Jatinder Chera
Assistant Director Taiwo Ava Oyebola
Cultural Consultant Jacob Roberts-Mensah
Cast – Fode Simbo, Bola Akeju, Tori Allen-Martin and Stefan Asante-Boateng
9 February – 9 March
Monday – Saturday at 7:30pm
Matinees – Saturday 24 February & 2, 9 March at 2:30pm