Nottingham playwright wins best new play award

Steve Orme

Mufaro Makubika from Nottingham has won the 2017 Alfred Fagon award for best new play by a black British playwright.

His winning play Shebeen, which centres on Nottingham’s Caribbean community in the late 1950s, will have its world première at Nottingham Playhouse in June 2018.

Makubika said, “Shebeen is a play about the place I live: St Ann’s in Nottingham. It’s about the community of St Ann’s. You might not know its history but I felt it was important to shine a light on it.”

Makubika, who was born in Zimbabwe and came to England when he was 16, saw his first play two years later and fell in love with the theatre.

Set in the hot, humid summer of 1958 when tempers are flaring and Teddy Boys are on the march, Shebeen is inspired by Makubika’s family and neighbours. It is about a community under siege and the sacrifices people make for love.

Stephanie Sirr, chief executive of Nottingham Playhouse which commissioned the play, said, “we’ve been working with Mufaro for a number of years now including premièring his first full-length play, How to Breathe, in the Neville Studio in 2015.

“We’re pleased to present Shebeen, Mufaro’s first main stage production at Nottingham Playhouse, before it enjoys a run at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Receiving the award is a marvellous achievement and we’re very proud of Mufaro.”

He was presented with his award by screenwriter and director Amma Asante at a ceremony at the National Theatre, London. The award is named after black British playwright Alfred Fagon and is given to a new play by a writer of Caribbean or African descent who lives in the UK.

Shebeen runs at Nottingham Playhouse from Friday 1 until Saturday 16 June.