Princess and the Hustler by Chinonyerem Odimba


About the play

Protest and grief also feature in Princess & The Hustler by Chinonyerem Odimba, produced at Bristol Old Vic Theatre by Eclipse Theatre, Bristol Old Vic and Hull Truck Theatre, before going on a UK tour. This domestic drama, set in 1963 in the home of a Black family, combines the politics of colourism with the Bristol bus boycott – a seminal Black British Civil Rights action that led to the Race Relations Act of 1965. As part of Eclipse Theatre’s Revolution Mix – a theatrical intervention to undo the erasure of Black British Stories across five centuries – Odimba, in 2019, brings a recent but under-celebrated story into our consciousness, forcing us to confront the history of race politics in Bristol. Just a year later, the statue of Edward Colston was toppled and pushed into Bristol Harbour during that summer’s Black Lives Matter protests – an action that demanded the city acknowledge but not celebrate the city’s role in the slave trade.

Whilst Kene is telling the story of the colonisation of parts of London that sees his neighbour Dreadlock Rasta being replaced by Redhead Eddie, Odimba explores the legacy of colonisation in Britain: Jamaican-born-and-bred Wendall goes into the service to fight for Britain and is discharged after an incident and with a lung condition. He is promised a job and a future in England only to be disrespected and made invisible – kept from being able to make a living and support his family in a land that wants his life but not him or his labour.

About the Author

Chinonyerem Odimba Chinonyerem Odimba is a Nigerian British playwright, screenwriter and poet. Her recent work ranges from Medea at Bristol Old Vic, We Too, Are Giants for Kiln Theatre, Unknown Rivers at Hampstead Theatre, Prince and the Pauper at Watermill Theatre, The Seven Ages of Patience at Kiln Theatre, and Princess & The Hustler, which toured across the UK for Eclipse Theatre, Bristol Old Vic and Hull Truck. She is also Writer-in-Residence at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Her other work for theatre includes _The Bird Woman of Lewisham_at the Arcola, Rainy Season and His Name is Ishmael for Bristol Old Vic, Joanne for Clean Break, and Amongst the Reeds for Clean Break/The Yard Theatre. Her work for young people includes a modern retelling of _Twist_for Theatre Centre and Sweetness of a Sting for NT Connections.

She has been shortlisted for several prizes including the Adrienne Benham and Alfred Fagon Awards. In 2015 her unproduced play

Wild is De Wind was shortlisted to the final ten for the Bruntwood Playwriting Award. She is the winner for the 2018 Sonia Friedman Award (Channel 4 Playwright Bursary) for a new play How to Walk on the Moon, and was a finalist for the inaugural Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020 for her play Paradise Street.

Chinonyerem’s TV credits include Scotch Bonnet for BBC Three and A Blues for Nia for BBC/Eclipse Theatre, Adulting for Channel 4, and My Best Friend Married a Warrior for CBBC. For radio, credits include The Last Flag, and Eve as part of This Is Your Country, Now series on BBC Radio 4.

As a director, Chinonyerem has worked for Bristol Old Vic, Theatre503 and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She co-directed her new play Black Love for Paines Plough, as well an audio drama for Live Theatre/BBC Radio 4 in 2021. In April 2021, Chinonyerem became the new Artistic Director and Chief Executive of tiata fahodzi.