SOLD: The true story of Mary Prince
Coming to The Horton on Thursday 23rd March is the historical play, SOLD. Retelling the powerful yet seldom talked about story of freedom fighter, Mary Prince. Prince played a vital role in Britain’s abolitionist movement as the first Black woman whose narrative of her enslavement was recorded.
Her book, “The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave”, drew attention to the continuation of slavery in the Caribbean, despite an 1807 Act of Parliament officially ending the slave trade. It inspired two libel actions and ran into three editions in the year of its publication. This rallying cry for emancipation remains an extraordinary testament to Prince’s ill-treatment, suffering and survival.
In light of the justice campaign, Black Lives Matter and Britain’s Windrush scandal, this black-theatre performance not only moves audiences with its emotional and heartfelt story, but sheds a light on areas of history that have been warped and overshadowed.
SOLD tells the story of Mary Prince, a woman born into enslavement on the British owned island of Bermuda in 1788 (estimated). Through Mary’s narrative, the audiences are given a rare insight into her life as she experiences moments of love and conflict under the shackles of slavery. Her autobiography, first published in 1831, spoke of her brutal and dehumanizing treatment, shocking readers at the time.
Mary’s story offered a voice to those often silenced and oppressed. It also highlighted Britain’s major part in the slave trade which is often viewed as an American experience. The transatlantic slave trade was established in the mid-17th century, with European vessels travelling to the West coast of Africa to trade manufactured goods for those forced into enslavement. Ships would then travel to North America and the Caribbean, where enslaved people were traded for ‘luxury’ items such as sugar, rum and tobacco. It has been estimated that by the end of the century, nearly half a million people were enslaved in the British Colonies. It is estimated that one slave ship left Britain every other day by 1780, taking a considerable toll on human life.
The story of Mary Prince has been brought to life by the theatre company, Kuumba Nia Arts. KNA was founded in 2009 to bring African and Caribbean peoples’ histories and contemporary stories to life. They are an Oxford based company aiming to share African and Caribbean Heritage peoples histories and bring contemporary stories to life through theatre and film.
Kuumba Nia Arts believe that Black Theatre has a form and a style of its own, with most Black Theatre today being produced from a European perspective. The company aims to reveal the roots of Black Theatre which goes back to Ancient, pre and post-colonial Africa. The purpose of African Theatre was its relationship to its audience. Theatre was viewed as “the mirror of life”, and was performed as a way of connecting with communities both spiritually, mentally and educationally.
“Theatre itself, in our opinion, serves no purpose if not to edify and enrich the lives of its recipients and this was an ethic crucial to the survival of the Black theatrical experience.” Kuumba Nia Arts
SOLD plays at The Horton on Thursday 23rd March, 8pm – book tickets here.