Saturday 01 June 2019 -
12:00 to 14:00

Award-wining black British playwright Roy Williams visits Madrid to share and discuss the vision and motivation behind his works through the project Read, Play, Meet, Repeat organized in Madrid by Bella Batalla, Esto Podría Ser and El Pavón Teatro Kamikaze in collaboration with the British Council / New UK Drama.

What do you think the job of the playwright is? “To tell a good story first and foremost. Secondly, to celebrate as well as question what it means to live a life” (Roy Williams)
“Artists need to ask uncomfortable questions about our society” (Roy Williams)

Roy Williams was born and brought up in London, the youngest of four siblings in a single-parent home. His love of theatre was kindled by his experience of being tutored by the writer Don Kinch at a time when he was failing at school: it was through working as an actor that he realised that plays could be about people he could relate to, who shared his concerns and spoke the way he did. 

Since the staging of The No Boys Cricket Club, his first full-length play, in 1996, Roy has become a well-established figure in British mainstream theatre and a leading representative of dramatists whose work articulates a black British perspective. His plays have been produced by the UK’s most prestigious theatre companies such as the Royal Court, the National Theatre or the RSC. His voluminous output of writing, also for radio, television and film, has earned him a long list of awards including an OBE in 2008 for services to Drama. In 2018 he was made a fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.

His plays deal with many of the issues afflicting modern society: racism, poverty, teen pregnancy or violence. His early works explore his Caribbean heritage and the experience of his parents’ generation as immigrants in the UK (The No Boys Cricket Club -1996-, Starstruck -1998- or The Gift -2000-). Further themes include the experience of British youths, both black and white (Lift Off -1999), the links between football, national identity and racism (Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads -2002-) or failed police investigations and contradictions in our multicultural society (Fallout -2003-). Roy wrote about the experience of British soldiers in Iraq in Days of Significance (2007), a state-of-the nation play for the RSC based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing. He uses sport as a prism through which to explore issues of cultural identity in his 2010 play Sucker Punch, the story of two black British youths and their ascendancy in the world of professional boxing which raises questions of identity, loyalty, integration and exploitation. Soul, written in 2016, explores the final days of the Motown singer Marvin Gaye and his relationship with the father who shot him dead when he as 43. His most recent full-length play The Firm (2017) is a tale of growing up, lifelong loyalties and how sometimes, it is possible to choose your own family. 

Roy is currently working on new plays for Hampstead Theatre, Out of Joint and the National Theatre.

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