Crossings was originally commissioned as a theatre work in progress by DaDa (Deaf and Disability Arts) Festival, Liverpool. Julie McNamara has since developed the play, part of which was showcased at decibel 09.
Peter Street reflects on Julie McNamara's gripping piece of drama which examines racist times from the past with contemporary racist attitudes.
'The Zong' conjures up comic thoughts. It even sounds a bit Dr Who’ish. Something for the kids you might think! ‘fraid not! For this play by Julie McNamara is the stuff of nightmares. This plays tells the story of a fateful night in 1783 that governments and insurance companies have tried to keep secret.
As a result it’s unlikely anything about the slave ship Zong or anyone involved would be in the school history books. Strange as it may sound but up until recent times no-one was bothered about what really happened. They probably thought who would care about one hundred and thirty three black slaves being murdered by way of drowning: thrown into the sea with their wrists tied together.
So, for nearly four hundred years the bad guys were winning - that was until an Irish/ scouser with a family history from in and around Liverpool and the docks decided enough was enough. 1783 was a time when nearly all roads for Irish and Black immigrants led to Liverpool. Liverpool was built on the backs, arms, sweat and tears of the men, women and children from those groups.
I saw 'Crossings' at the Green Room, Manchester. The play is not just about ‘that murderous night.’ It is a history lesson about freedom, bravery, and the ingenuity of one woman dressing up has a man to escape her nightmare. I felt maybe some closure of a sort is shared / spoken through three women who have lived their own various nightmares through this production.
This play by McNamara is real, gutsy and anyone who wants pretty should stay away.