And I And Silence

by Naomi Wallace

10 May – 4 June 2011

The world premiere of a new play by Naomi Wallace

Part of “In Their Place” – a three month season of work by women playwrights.

The entire run of And I And Silence sold out.

Time Out Critics’ Choice
Evening Standard Critics’ Choice
★★★★ Four Stars, The Times
★★★★ Four Stars, The Guardian
★★★★ Four Stars, Financial Times
★★★★ Four Stars, Time Out
★★★★ Four Stars, WhatsOnStage
★★★★ Four Stars, Exeunt
★★★★ Four Stars, Evening Standard
★★★★ Four Stars, TNT
Named one of Lyn Gardner’s Best Plays of 2011

Two imprisoned young women, one African American and the other white, form a perilous bond. As they serve time they forge a plan for survival. They practice hard. If they don’t get it right they’ll lose everything: the outside world is even more dangerous to their friendship than the jail itself.

Exploring the fierce dreams of youth and the brutal reality of adulthood in 1950’s segregated America, And I and Silence is a dark, often humorous portrait of desire and daring.

About The Playwright Naomi Wallace

Playwright Naomi Wallace's first play, The War Boys, was produced at the Finborough Theatre in 1993. Her work has been produced in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Her major plays include One Flea Spare, In the Heart of America, Slaughter City, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Things of Dry Hours and The Fever Chart: Three Short Visions of the Middle East. Among other awards, her work has twice received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and an Obie. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship. And I And Silence received a reading in last year’s Vibrant – An Anniversary Festival of Finborough Playwrights.

About The Director Caitlin McLeod

Director Caitlin McLeod directs Stewart Parker’s Northern Star at the Finborough Theatre in February 2011. Her previous credits include One Short Sleepe (2009) at the South Bank Literary Festival and the UK premiere of Elephant's Graveyard (Warwick Arts Centre) which went on to win four awards at the National Student Drama Festival including the Buzz Goodbody Best Director Award. Assistant Direction includes The Talented Mr Ripley (Royal and Derngate) and the National Student Drama Festival ensemble on Touched (North Wall Theatre, Oxford and Latitude Festival). Caitlin directed the reading of And I And Silence in last year’s Vibrant – An Anniversary Festival of Finborough Playwrights.

About The Associate Producer Clean Break

Clean Break is a producing theatre company with an independent education programme. Both strands of our work are rooted in the belief that theatre changes lives. Behind the scenes, we provide high-quality theatre-based courses, qualifications, training oppurtunities and specialist support which are critical for the rehabilitation of women offenders. On the stage, we produce ground-breaking and award winning plays which dramatise women's experience of, and relationship to, crime and punishment

The Press on And I And Silence

“UNMISSABLE” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“For a potent reminder of the unbeatable power of theatre, look no further than the top-of-its-game Finborough. In just 75 minutes on a tiny, almost bare stage, playwright Naomi Wallace conjures a compelling picture of friendship against the odds in the segregated America of the Fifties.” Fiona Mountford, London Evening Standard

“Naomi Wallace's devastating tale of segregation in 1950s America, And I and Silence, at the Finborough, which continues to put many subsidised new writing outfits to shame and now even boasts air conditioning (if you've ever been on a warm evening, you'll know what a big deal this is).” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“If you can go see Naomi Wallace's beautiful and clever play at the Finborough.. Beautifully directed and acted. And only 70 mins! Beautiful” Kwame Kwei-Armah

“A heartfelt play, and great air con too.” Aleks Sierz, The Stage “An extraordinary achievement from all involved.” Jo Caird, Whatsonstage

“And I and Silence is a play that takes on big themes in a very small way and has the ability to be both powerful and touching, leading to an unforgettable dénouement.” Philip Fisher, The British Theatre Guide

“This is a play that wants to make you weep, and is quite likely to succeed, so touching is its story.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“Naomi Wallace's short, painful prison drama uses the backdrop of racially segregated '50s America to weave a tale of the hope that can blossom behind bars, and the despair that can destroy a life outside them.” Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

“Caitlin McLeod's understated production, which gains much from the affectingly eerie performances of Oliver and Simmons, chilling and convincing as a pair of living ghosts trapped in a ghastly parody of their former friendship.” Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

“An excellent script, ingenious set and brilliant acting” Francesca Beckett, A Younger Theatre

“I highly recommend spending 85 minutes in the shocking, poetic and ultimately touching company of Jamie and Dee.” Francesca Beckett, A Younger Theatre

“Caitlin McLeod originally directed Naomi Wallace's play as a rehearsed reading at last year's Vibrant Festival, and now returns as it gets a full production to finish off the current women playwrights' season. The four actors all make you root for their characters even at their darkest, holding on to their sense of humour as long as possible.” Nick,

“The serious themes of And I and Silence (the title comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson) are female love, racial segregation, and the brutality of poverty and incarceration, but these are presented subtly, woven into the texture of the text.” Aleks Sierz, The Stage

“Described in brief, Naomi Wallace's ingeniously structured new play sounds so heavy with issues that it should never get off the ground. Set between a prison and a hovel in 1950s America, it concerns the futile efforts of two young women, one black and one white, to rise above poverty, gender, racial inequality and class. But thanks to Wallace's delicate touch and generous imagination, it unfolds into a story of love whose unexpected emotional power sideswipes the audience. Once again, the question arises: Why isn't this superb writer more widely produced?” Karen Fricker, Variety

“Wallace's play is an exquisitely under-stated examination of female friendship and unspoken love. It's a truly American tragedy about two women who want so little and get nothing except from each other, yet it is leavened with humour.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Wallace's devastating, moving play is entirely without extravagance and artifice and is completely grounded in the harshness of the real world.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Wallace is dealing with bleak subjects here – racism, sexual abuse and the horrors of incarceration – but And I and Silence is tremendously subtle in its exploration of these ugly truths.” Jo Caird, Whatsonstage

“American playwright and British resident Naomi Wallace returns to the venue which staged her 1993 debut, The War Boys, with her new play, which is part of the Finborough’s In Their Place, a three-month season of work by women playwrights. But regular visitors will be even more excited by the fact that the venue now has air conditioning.” Aleks Sierz, The Stage

“Wallace’s passionately felt story is beautifully written, with its teenage dreams, pent-up fury and adult disillusionment.” Aleks Sierz, The Stage

“There’s both humour and poetry in the dialogue” TNT “It's a tribute to Wallace's skill that in less than 90 minutes of storytelling the desperate final choice they make feels deeply unjust but at the same time inevitable.” Karen Fricker, Variety

“A former MacArthur genius fellow and Obie winner, Wallace is one of the most subtle and politically engaged American playwrights of her generation. It's a tribute to the small theatre companies and independent producers behind this have mounted it at such a high standard.” Karen Fricker, Variety

“The performances are strong on all sides.” Natasha Tripney, Exeunt

“Her superb cast - Lauren Crace and Cherrelle Skeete as the younger Dee and Jamie, and Sally Oliver and Cat Simmons are their older selves - are pitch perfect.” Aleks Sierz, The Stage

“The play does provide an excellent showcase for the four actresses, and, under Caitlin McLeod's sensitive direction, Lauren Crace and Cherrelle Skeete as the younger pair and Sally Oliver and Cat Simmons as their older counterparts are equally evocative and touching.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“There are magnificent turns from all four actresses, with Skeete and Simmons suggesting the cleverer Jamie's pensiveness, and Crace and Oliver Dee's slowly souring impulsiveness” Fiona Mountford, London Evening Standard

“Cat Simmons was particularly impressive as the older Jamie, depicting the anger of her younger self conflicted with her life experience perfectly” Francesca Beckett, A Younger Theatre

“All four actresses (Cat Simmons and Sally Oliver as their older selves, Cherrelle Skeete and Lauren Crace as their teenage counterparts) bring a touching honesty to their roles” Louise, London Theatre Reviews and TNT

“Director Caitlin McLeod’s elegant staging”. Jo Caird, Whatsonstage

“Director Caitlin McLeod who had such a success with Northern Star at Finborough earlier in the year.” Philip Fisher, The British Theatre Guide

“Director Caitlin McLeod has fashioned an intense, gripping production that has us anxiously rooting for the ill-served pair.” Fiona Mountford, London Evening Standard

“Caitlin McLeod’s production, on Cecilia Carey’s versatile set (which suggests that there is not much difference between imprisonment and freedom for these women), is calm, deep and dignified.” Aleks Sierz, The Stage

“Cecelia Carey’s ingenious design, along with Elliot Griggs’s flawless lighting” Jo Caird, Whatsonstage

“A timely reminder of Finborough’s quality as a fringe venue.” JP Watson,

“Taking its name from an Emily Dickinson poem, And I and Silence is the last of three plays performed as part of ‘In Their Place’ – a three-month-long season of work by women playwrights. Not having seen the others, it’s impossible to comment on whether they saved the best until last; however I hope the previous two managed to capture the audience as well as The Finborough’s latest offering.” Francesca Beckett, A Younger Theatre

“It’s good to be back at the Finborough, though, with new aircon and a bar that’s finally open. Their next show is the London premiere of a 60′s Broadway musical – well, you could never accuse them of being unambitious or narrow in their programming! I’ll be there….” Gareth James,

10 May – 4 June 2011

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately 80 minutes