‘I wanted to capture the joy’: J’Ouvert writer Yasmin Joseph on bringing Europe’s biggest carnival to the stageApril 28, 2021
Joseph’s soca-saturated play about three young women losing themselves to the best and worst at Notting Hill carnival parades into the West End and on to our screens
In the summer of 2019 a tiny south London theatre staged a play by an unknown writer, directed by an actor who had never taken charge of a show before. Set two years earlier, J’Ouvert followed three young women through a day at the Notting Hill carnival. Like the carnival itself, that sweltering weekend just two months after the Grenfell Tower disaster, it released a geyser of pent-up emotion, selling out within days. “It reminded me that it’s our right to skin out, be joyous, be angry, to remember our queen of carnival Claudia Jones, and spend two whole glorious days as the majority,” enthused gal-dem reviewer Niellah Arboine.
Now it’s back, in a parade of shows winding into the West End after a year of shuttered silence. It has also been filmed for BBC iPlayer, reuniting its 29-year-old author Yasmin Joseph with director Rebekah Murrell and two of the three actors who originally performed it.