When was the play’s first performance?
J’Ouvert premiered at Theatre 503, Battersea, south-west London, in June 2019.
Where is Yasmin Joseph from?
She was raised by her schoolteacher mother in the north London borough of Camden. Joseph’s heritage is Dominican, Vincentian and Jamaican.
— ADVERTISEMENT —
What was the inspiration for the play?
J’Ouvert is a depiction of the love for Carnival and a reminder of the way this is intricately woven into the heritage of the Caribbean islands. It explores the struggles of two young women as they attempt to preserve tradition in a society where their bodies are constantly under scrutiny. Joseph explained: “J’Ouvert was my love letter to Notting Hill Carnival, to the innovative women who are at the helm of the tradition and to Black British Caribbean people.”
Is the play a true reflection of Notting Hill Carnival?
Absolutely! It was important to Yasmin that her characters represented the real experiences of actual people during Carnival, to give people an opportunity to live vicariously through the characters. The story is a juxtaposition of the joy, pain, colours and some of the scarier moments that occur within Carnival. She described the creative process as both daunting and exciting. In her own words: “I chose to tackle what feels like a very big story through the lens of two very ordinary young Black women because I want to assert the notion that their voices and voices like theirs are important.”
— ADVERTISEMENT —
What does J’Ouvert mean?
It is an Antillean Creole term that means “dawn” or “daybreak” – the time of day that the festivities have started ever since Caribbean Carnival took shape in the 18th century. Traditionally, people smother their bodies in oil, mud, powder and chocolate, which symbolises anonymity and equality among revellers.
If you have not yet seen J’Ouvert then there may still be time to do so by visiting the Harold Pinter Theatre website.