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World Premiere 

The Long Song

A new adaptation by Suhayla El-Bushra
Based on the novel by Andrea Levy

Festival Theatre
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Overview

Bold and brilliant. Chichester’s take on Andrea Levy’s novel refuses to compromise – and the result is phenomenal

Telegraph
 

Tara Tijani and Llewella Gideon are superb in this unblinking portrait of dignity amid moral horror

Guardian
 

Charlotte Gwinner’s production is lucid and light-footed

Daily Mail

‘You do not know me yet but I am the heroine of this drama. I am told that here I must give a taste of what is to unfold. I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent days of slavery and the early years of freedom.

‘I was born a slave upon a sugar plantation named Amity. I was there when the Baptist War raged in 1831, and when slavery was declared no more. It tells of my mama Kitty, of the negroes enslaved, of Caroline Mortimer the woman who owned me. I am to say that it is a true and thrilling journey through that unsettled time.

‘Cha, I say, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just see it for themselves.’

The Long Song is adapted from Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel by Suhayla El‑Bushra, formerly writer in residence at the National Theatre Studio and whose work includes The Suicide (NT), Arabian Nights (Lyceum, Edinburgh), and Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge.

Tara Tijani makes her professional debut as July, having graduated from Guildhall School of Music & Drama this year.

Llewella Gideon plays Old July; her many TV credits include Small Axe – Mangrove, The Real McCoy and Absolutely Fabulous.

Olivia Poulet (Caroline Mortimer) previously appeared at Chichester in Fred’s Diner and Top Girls; her TV credits include The Thick of It.

Director Charlotte Gwinner was Associate Director at the Bush Theatre, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres 2014-16, where her productions included Waiting for Godot, the Sarah Kane season and The Distance.



Purchase a digital copy of the programme

Our programmes are designed to be the perfect insightful companion to the production. The Long Song programme includes Andrea Levy’s own introduction to the writing of the novel; memories of Andrea Levy by her husband Bill Mayblin; an insight into the creative process behind the production; plus rehearsal photography, biographies and news from the Theatre.

By clicking on BUY you will be re-directed to Issuu's website. The purchased programme will be available to read on their website and app. 

Purchasing a digital programme does not include the purchase of a printed programme.

Prologue.

Prologue tickets available

Reviews

Bold and brilliant. Chichester’s take on Andrea Levy’s novel refuses to compromise – and the result is phenomenal.

Telegraph
 

Tara Tijani and Llewella Gideon are superb in this unblinking portrait of dignity amid moral horror. Suhayla El-Bushra’s adaptation is a model of economy and fidelity. Llewella Gideon gives a star-making performance as Old Miss July, in turn cagey, playful and enraged while both suggesting an ancient survivor and suddenly returning in memory to younger versions of herself. These are played in flashback by Tara Tijani, a drama school graduate this summer who suggests high promise with a performance that captures the agonising rapid calculations necessary to survive in a world allowing her no value.

Guardian
 

An epic account of a poorly documented period in British colonial history. Charlotte Gwinner’s production is lucid and light-footed. It was also very warmly received by a hugely appreciative Chichester audience.

Daily Mail

Scenes of rare power… anchored by a quietly compelling performance by Llewella Gideon

Times

Charlotte Gwinner’s clever, absorbing and provocative production. Llewella Gideon is wonderful... a truly impressive, remarkably assured professional debut from Tara Tijani, a young performer with genuine presence.

Chichester Observer

Cast & Creatives

Cast

Creative team

Cast List
NameRole

Charlotte Gwinner

Director

Frankie Bradshaw

Designer

Mark Doubleday

Lighting Designer

Michael Henry

Composer, Arranger and Musical Director

Helen Skiera

Sound Designer

Dick Straker

Video Designer

Angela Gasparetto

Movement Director and Co-intimacy Director

Kev McCurdy

Fight Director and Co-intimacy Director

Susanna Peretz

Wigs, Hair and Make-Up Designer

Charlotte Sutton

Casting Director

Hazel Holder & Joel Trill

Voice & Dialect Coaches (Diaspora accents for actors)

Sandra Falase

Associate Designer

Loz Tait

Costume Supervisor

Charlotte King

Props Supervisor

Ewa Dina

Assistant Director

Jadarose Brown-senior

Assistant Wigs, Hair and Make-Up

Gallery

Gallery

Pricing

Pricing Information

Price bands for an event, organised by showing
Performance description Price Bands
Previews/Press Night£10£10£29£33
All other performances£10£30£39£43
  • Friends: Book up to four discounted tickets at £2 off per ticket
  • Groups 8+ Monday and Tuesday: £29 per ticket
  • Groups 8+ Wednesday - Friday: £5 off each ticket
  • Groups 40+ Wednesday - Friday: £8 off each ticket, plus a £5 ticket for the Group Organiser
  • School and College Groups 10+ Monday - Friday: £8.50 per ticket; one free teacher ticket with every nine paid
  • Over 60s Monday - Thursday: £2 off
  • Full-time students in Higher Education, Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support claimants Monday - Thursday: Half Price
  • Full-time students in Higher Education, Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support claimants Monday - Thursday: Standby from one hour before the performance: £8.50
  • Family tickets (excludes Saturday evenings): Half Price for up to four U16s with every full price paying adult. Discounts applied at the checkout. All tickets must be booked and paid for in a single transaction.
  • Prologue Book 3 Get 1 Free: Log in to your account to see Prologue seats
  • £5 Prologue Tickets may be available for 16-30 year olds: Log in to your account to see Prologue seats
  • Access tickets may be available for Access Members: Log in to your account to see Access seats
  • Book early for the best prices: Prices are guaranteed until Monday 7 June and are then subject to change
  • All venues: Only one reduction applies per ticket, and all discounts are subject to availability and at the discretion of the Box Office.
  • All venues: Discounts do not apply on Previews and Press Nights
  • Festival Theatre: Discounts apply to top three price bands only
  • Festival Theatre: Some seating areas may not be available for all performances

Audio Content: Levy's Legacies

Listen to Levy’s Legacies - our audio collection exploring Andrea Levy’s life and writing, the context in which she wrote The Long Song and Suhayla El-Bushra’s brand new adaptation for the stage:

Extract from an interview with Andrea Levy 

2011, Nicky Barranger

Desert Island Discs: Andrea Levy

June 2011, BBC Radio 4

Only Artists: Helen Cammock meets Suhayla El-Bushra

November 2019, BBC Radio 4

Women Writing Women: Arifa Akbar, Sara Collins and Ade Solanke in conversation with Kate Mosse

October 2020, Chichester Festival Theatre

The Long Song Pre-Show Talk

Join Kate Mosse as she sits down to talk with director Charlotte Gwinner and playwright Suhayla El-Bushra to discuss The Long Song.

Q&A with Suhayla El-Bushra

Suhayla El-Bushra writes for stage and screen. She was writer in residence at the National Theatre, London, where her adaptation of Nikolai Erdman's The Suicide was staged in the Lyttelton Theatre. Other stage work includes: Pigeons (Royal Court, 2013 and tour), Cuckoo (Unicorn Theatre, 2014), The Kilburn Passion (Tricycle, 2014), Arabian Nights (Lyceum, Edinburgh, 2017). Her screen credits include two series of Channel 4's Ackley Bridge, Becoming Elizabeth (The Forge/Starz Channel) and a short film for Film4.

Was it daunting adapting a piece of work when you admire both the writer, and the book?

I did feel quite reverential at first, and was very careful with it. I think as you go along, it stops being what it was and becomes a piece of theatre and you just have to think about it in those terms.  I thought about how to keep the book intact while also moving it onto the stage.  The story in the book is very complete and it works very well, so I needed to turn that into something that can go on to work as a piece of theatre.  In that respect it was quite a new way of working for me. 

The play is from the point of view of July, and that in turn comes through Andrea’s voice, then your voice. What does the diversity of voices bring to the work?

For me, the book is about history and storytelling, and whose version of events get remembered and whose get written down, or passed on orally.  Playing around with different voices, and different versions of stories, and the slippery nature of the truth, is something I’ve tried to put into the play, but I think it applies to the process of me telling the story that Andrea tells, of these people in Jamaica in the 1830s – that story has come through all these different filters.  It’s come through Andrea’s lens,  a Black British writer who was Jamaican but spent very little time there, and it’s now come through my lens, so it’s passing on the spirit of the book which is that all these stories keep evolving. The fact is now coming through another medium, from verbal, to print, and now on stage, feels a very natural part of the process.  

Content and Themes

At CFT, we want everyone to feel truly welcome and comfortable. While we try not to spoil anyone’s enjoyment by giving away ‘spoilers’ such as plot twists and narrative surprises, we also recognise that some people may find certain themes distressing. You’ll find guidance on such content below; please be aware that by reading this, some elements of the plot may be revealed. Please note that these may be updated nearer the time of the production as staging details are confirmed. 

If you have any questions or feedback, do email us at marketing@cft.org.uk.

The Long Song
Language: Racially offensive language prevalent at the period
Nudity: None 
Violence: Corporal punishment, fighting, gunshots
Themes: Slavery, physical and mental cruelty

Further reading and resources

We have compiled a list of websites, podcasts, videos and books for anyone who wants to explore the issues raised in The Long Song further. This list is by no means complete, so please keep exploring and reading yourselves.

To explore

Black Cultural Archives

The Black Curriculum

Black History Month

Black Lives Matter UK

Historic England: The Slave Trade and Abolition

Understanding Slavery

To listen

To read

To watch

After the Windrush Betrayal

Black and British: A Forgotten History

Black Lives Matter: Rivers of Blood – 50 Years On

The Lie That Invented Racism

The School That Tried to End Racism

Small Axe

COVID Guidelines

Welcoming you to the Theatre safely

Performances from September 2021

The following measures will be in place for your visit in the coming months. We always ensure that our procedures are in line with current government guidelines, so please do check the website, and this page before your visit for the latest information.

  • E-tickets will be issued as standard. These do not have to be printed but can be shown on your smartphone or similar device for us to scan on entry. In order to reduce queueing and minimise contact, tickets will not be available for collection from the Box Office
  • We will carry out enhanced cleaning of all public areas, both prior to and during performances.
  • Hand sanitising stations positioned throughout the building.
  • During the interval we ask that people are mindful of other patrons, and take note of any directional signage that may be in place to regulate the flow of patrons through the building.
  • Face coverings are strongly recommended, in line with government advice, for the duration of your visit (except for eating and drinking) unless exempt for health reasons. Our Front of House staff will continue to wear face coverings.
  • Bars, Cafes and restaurants will be open, but transactions will be cashless and paperless, with perspex screens fitted at all sale points. Please check the website before your visit for the most up to date information.
  • Our auditoriums, foyer and restaurant spaces run at 100% fresh air ventilation. Due to current circumstances relating to Covid-19, our systems are set to run full (100%) fresh air only, during rehearsals and public events for a minimum of 1.5 hours before and 1.5 hours after occupation. Our supply air is drawn in via the intake ducts on the roof, passed through a two-stage filtration system removing particulates down to between 0.3µm-1.0µm (Micro millimetres). The extract system draws air upwards and out of the auditorium through ducts to the atmosphere. 

Book with confidence

Please be reassured that should you book for a performance which has to be cancelled, you will be offered the option of a refund, credit or a transfer to another performance.

For maximized flexibility, if you cannot attend, you can exchange your ticket for FREE up to at least 24 hours prior to the event (subject to availability).

For productions in the Festival and Minerva Theatres we offer a refund protection service, available when you book your tickets, from Booking Protect so you can apply for a refund should you, or anyone in your party, be unable to attend the show due to adverse weather, injury, illness, burglary or fire at your residence, breakdown or relocation for work. Click here to read Booking Protect Terms and Conditions.

Please refer to our full terms and conditions of sale. The specific points above supercede those within the wider terms and conditions.

We hope you have an enjoyable visit but if you do have any concerns, members of staff will be on hand to help you.

Please do not attend the theatre if you:

  • believe you may be infected with COVID-19;
  • have experienced symptoms in the last 14 days;
  • have been in close proximity to anyone who has experienced symptoms in the last 14 days, or have been instructed to self-isolate.

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Details.

Running Time
Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes including the interval