Eight characters, gunshots, heart-rending decisions, emotive subject matters and all within one conjectural boxing ring: Introducing the European premiere of a play that promises to pack more than a punch – Six Rounds. This emotional, yet pertinent production, brought to you by Liminal Space Productions and written by multi-award filmmaker, playwright and activist, John Oluwale Adekoje, will make its debut at the Lost Theatre on 7th June – 3rd July.
The bell goes for Round One – The Setting. Six Rounds is the epitome of contrasts, effortlessly illustrated by the Hip -Hop DJ strategically placed to scratch the tracks, mix the tunes and act as referee. In the red corner is the Yoruba Mythology of West Africa, whilst standing tall in the blue corner, we have the urban culture and music of the streets of New York.
Round two – The Background. To add to the mix, John Adejoke introduces a catalyst of themes likely to cause that inevitable combustion when combined. Through the use of tactical jabs and combos, Six Rounds examines a host of issues, ranging from love and loyalty, racial tension and domestic violence, down to gun crime, interaction with police and dealing with death. The implicit ‘clinch’ focuses on the laws on ‘snitching’ and the consequences for breaking the street code amongst brothers.
Round three –The Plot. Meet the sparring brothers, fuelled with a combination of tragedy and testosterone. Ace, (with his chiselled physique), is ambitious, educated and married. Whilst his brother, Solo, (a ‘victim’ to the war on the streets), emanates hatred, resentment and melancholy; emotions which seems to be strapped to the wheelchair that he is confined to. Supporting both their camps; is the family. The deeply distressed mother and sister who exist only in a bubble of guilt, culpability and confusion, a father who realises he could have done more and the heartbroken newly-married widow.
Round Four – Behind the scenes. Not wanting to pull any punches, ‘Flavour’ got the opportunity to speak to the Director and Designer Prav Menon- Johansson about her position in the ring. With an accolade of productions that proceed, the play first came to her attention in 2007, when it was being performed by ‘Company One’ in Boston. Whilst John Adekoje describes it as a ‘tragicomic hip-hop concerto,’ she depicts it as a ‘poignant heartbreak’ and reasserts the importance of ‘People having choices and not having to take the same path that everyone else takes, but to remain strong on the path that you select.’ She passionately told ‘Flavour’ that ‘this story is universal. It might have resurrected in America, but in 2011, we all have a problem with guns, knives and violence.’
Round Five – The lesson. As an ardent advocate of the impact and lessons that can be learned from Six Rounds, Prav Menon-Johansson believes that this play captures the essence of the world we reside in today. ‘With the shocking incidents surrounding the murder of Negus McClean (15) and the attempted murder of 5 year old Thushara Kamaleswaran, it is time for an influx of artistic pieces such as this one.’ Spurred on by the media stir, that usually occurs, around songs such as ‘snitch’ by Obie Trice, she said ‘people forget you can die because it still retains that glamorous air to it. No one ever talks about the real consequences of death and the mother, sister, wife or brother that you leave behind.’
The aim is ‘to reach out to the under 25’s with something more than words.’ as she acknowledges that, ‘if you tell them don’t do it, it has little or no effect.’ Instead, she hopes that ‘the visual image of a helpless man trapped in a wheelchair, due to a bad choice and a bullet will have the desired effect and emit that powerful message’.
Round Six With the anticipated combination of haymakers and combos, (in the form of set design, casting, music, settings and plot), we at Flavour will let you make your own decision as to whether this culmination amounts to a technical knockout in the final round.
Staying true to the sport; just as professionally staged fights have ring girls to provide anticipation, Liminal Space Productions, teamed up with selected charitable organizations to raise awareness to the pertinent themes examined in this play. The first of which is on Thursday May 5th at Plan B Brixton from 7.30-11.30pm. The composer for Six Rounds, DJ J-Den, will be on the decks and there will also be a Six Rounds raffle. This is just a taster, so get down there and be part of it!
For more information, log on to www.pravmjdirect.com.
Words by Sarah James-Cyrus