Party will preview songs from Bus Boycott musical

Published: 7 August 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Remembering “an important event in British history”: playwright Roy Williams

Independent theatre studio China Plate and Birmingham Hippodrome are to host a party to celebrate the heritage of migration and activism in north Birmingham.

The Bus Boycott Block Party will feature an exclusive preview of songs from a new musical by Roy Williams and Tim Sutton which has the working title Bus Boycott.

The musical is based on events of 1963. In response to the Bristol Omnibus Company's refusal to employ black and Asian conductors, four young West Indian men organised a mass boycott of their buses.

Backed by students and political figures such as Tony Benn and the High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago, their stand brought about a change in race relations in the UK, leading to the first legislation explicitly outlawing racial discrimination.

A first taste of Bus Boycott will be seen in 2022 before a première and planned tour in 2023–4.

Writer Roy Williams said, "history is littered with forgotten stories, especially black stories which always enrages me. The more important they are the angrier I become.

“The Bristol Bus Boycott is such an important event in British history. The protesters' actions brought widespread attention to the problem of racism in Britain at the time. Their success brought a profound and positive sense of hope for the possibility of progress."

Bus Boycott Block Party will be held from 11:30AM until 5PM on Saturday 28 August at Soho House, Soho Avenue, Birmingham. Admission will be free.