Black and White Riot
By Edson Burton.
It's April 2nd 1980. Inside the notorious Black and White Cafe in St Paul's, Bristol, local hustler Reagan is drinking whisky and playing dominoes with his friend Carlos. Outside, Reagan's daughter Ross is keeping an eye on her Dad's beloved Cadillac and playing tag and shoot-out with Levi, a Rastafarian, and the 'biggest kid you can imagine'. He's been 'away' for a while and she's delighted to see him back, even though he's a grown up and she's only eleven. To Ross, the 'Black and White' is a place where her Dad is King, and she's a princess. There's always a party going on. But today is going to be different. Today he's going to lose his crown.
The Black and White Cafe in Bristol was notorious (even in Jamaica) as a place where you could buy illegal drink and drugs. The Cafe is the setting for this exciting new play by award-winning playwright Edson Burton which marks thirty years since the St Paul's Riots.
The St Paul's Riots in Bristol were the first in a series of infamous inner-city confrontations between police and mainly Black communities in Britain in the 1980s. Close to the heart of the city centre, yet isolated by poverty and White fear, the tiny parish of St Pauls replicated in concentrated form the forces that ignited those riots, leading the way for Brixton, Handsworth and Toxteth.
In this subtle, exhilarating and revealing play, Edson Burton brings a new perspective to the conventional explanations of police racism, white oppression and poverty as factors in why people rioted that day in Bristol. He tells the story of the Black criminals busy exploiting their own people: the rioters struck out against them too. And many people recall a carnival atmosphere as the police retreated and the looting began.
Police Officer.....Mark Meadows
Written by Edson Burton
Directed by Mary Ward-Lowery.