top of page

This Kind of Black | HOME

This Kind of Black is a beautiful, lyrical requiem that manages to be both moving and gently celebratory. Reece Williams, the writer and performer, discusses the experience of Black masculinity in the spaces he inhabits; he moves through a map of Manchester, exploring barber shops, tram stations, roads, and homes, experiencing both joy and tragedy. Williams’ poetry tells a tale spanning generations, of friendships, family, mourning, trauma, and survival. He combines an intimate, anecdotal mode of storytelling with poetry and movement, creating a piece that is both richly crafted and deeply felt.

The poems come to life on stage through the relationship between poetry, movement and design. Williams’ clear and engaging delivery is at the heart of the piece, but the video design by Sumit Sarkar is also vital. Itis almost ghostly, creating the maps and borders that reflect the rootedness of the poems’ content. The white lines of the animation move against Williams as he travels through time, space and language. They draw themselves onto the stage while the rhythmic poetry creates a similar kinetic energy, in turn emphasised by Courtney Hayles’ movement direction. As he performs a race towards a tram station (in order to escape danger), Williams’movements gain speed, overlaid with the increasing volume of the speech and music. This experimentation creates a sensory reaction which is incredibly powerful and engaging.

The direction, by Matt Fenton, focuses on transforming the words into something visceral and physical. This can be seen in Williams’ interactions with the audience, based on food, taste, and dancing, or the moments of actual physical connection: bringing an audience member gently onto the stage, and encouraging us to briefly stand as if in a religious gathering. This engagement allows us to experience a real proximity to his words and the experiences that they paint. Everything is heightened, and there is mourning, dancing, and laughter in this space of reclamation – This Kind of Black dispels the stereotype of young Black male violence, and instead paints lyrical expressions of both pain and connection.

As place affects personhood, words are shown to be similarly rooted in the subjectivity of experience. In one passage, Williams moves forward until he is amongst the audience. He then analyses the linguistic possibilities and meanings of the word ‘close’ with a powerful juxtaposition to a description of violence. He leans forward, and looks about him. At this moment and throughout the piece, Wiliams interrogates the pain of these experiences while also prioritising closeness.

This Kind of Black is a ‘Requiem for Black Boys’ and a note on the impacts of trauma and violence; about the piece,Williams writes ‘it’s important that I offer them hope.’ And, in the murmurs of appreciation and acknowledgement reverberating around the theatre, there is certainly something hopeful in this act of sharing - in both meanings of the word. Williams promotes sharing as speech and expression, and sharing as togetherness. This Kind of Black will complete its sold-out run at Home, Manchester, on Saturday 18th November, before being performed in Chester as part of the Chester Literature Festival 2023. You can find more information and tickets here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


bottom of page