We today announce a new work-in-progress of Roots Mbili Theatre's Never Look Back by John Rwothomack. Originally developed as part of the Nationwide Voices scheme by English Touring Theatre (ETT) in 2020, Never Look Back is a fictional retelling of the real-life African Soldiers who fought for Great Britain in World War II.
Never Look Back tells the imagined story of Kings African Rifle (KAR); the soldiers from East and Southern African commonwealth nations that fought for Great Britain in WWII. At the heart of the show is the relationship between veteran Komakech Ogwang and his curious granddaughter Anena Gladis. Bridging past and present, their conversations in present day Uganda transport back to 1944 to reveal the experiences of the KAR in the Burma campaign fighting the Japanese army. Together they recap the stories from the war in a bid to commemorate the sacrifices of the men who fought from these nations, and question their legacy amidst historic and present racial inequality.
Nationwide Voices is English Touring Theatre’s writer development programme. John Rwothomack was part of the first year of the programme, which was led by ETT in partnership with Kiln Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, Rifco Theatre Company, Sheffield Theatres, and Theatr Clwyd - made possible with support from the John Ellerman Foundation and the D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust. The programme offered a year-long attachment designed to support nominated playwrights through their career development, including regular workshop sessions led by the award-winning playwright Chris Bush (Standing at the Sky’s Edge). The scheme in turn enables theatres nationwide to platform fresh and imaginative voices with a connection to their local area, as well as building connections to work towards future commissioning, co-producing and touring of the work produced from the programme.
“In both World Wars, my grandfather and great-grandfather fought on the frontline for Britain. This fact is not that unique to me as a millennial and as a person from a Commonwealth African nation, especially the latter. I have now been in the UK for about 20 years, and every 11 Nov I’ve not seen these soldiers represented in the Remembrance. They are invisibles. We never learned about them in history classes. We don’t see them in the blockbuster films. There are only a handful of books about them. Their contribution deserves to be recognised and their stories deserved to be told. With the springboard of ETT’s Nationwide Voices scheme and using the stage of the Crucible, I'm hoping to honour them with Never Look Back, and explore what their contribution meant and how it has benefitted us today.”
Tickets for Never Look Back are on sale now for Saturday 4 November at the Crucible. The event at the Crucible is a work-in-progress of Never Look Back. Following the performance, there will be a Q&A feedback session with the creative team and cast. Tickets can be booked through the Box Office in person, over the phone on 0114 249 6000 or at the link below.