The Royal Opera House- SS Mendi - Emmerson Sutton Part 1/3

Do you know the story about the SS Mendi ?

A British Passenger Steamship which sank after a collision in 1917, killing hundreds of South African people who were on board.

I was on assignment at the Royal Opera House.

The Royal Opera House- SS Mendi - Emmerson Sutton Part 1/3

Explosive, enlightening and emotional best describes the performance of Dancing A Death Drill at the Royal Opera House. I have questioned myself as to why am I so familiar with the Titanic but had failed to hear about the SS Mendi and its astonishing and incredible history. Fables and storytelling of significant endurances by black men and women must be etched back in and relayed to all generations. Although many of my ancestors never entered into the Royal Opera House, I had a cohort of five young friends who were all born here in England, their heritage spanning from Jamaica to Ghana. My friends wanted to accompany us as they also had never visited the Royal Opera House. The Linbury Theatre was very quaint with a contemporary elegance, we were received by ushers who had exemplary customer services and identified points of interests.
It was a very multicultural and Intergenerational audience who all had an equal right and purpose for being there. There was a very long and pregnant pause at the outset of the play. In hindsight this was to prepare you for the delightful thought provoking piece that was about to unfold. Each singing note was pitch perfect and gently poked at your consciousness. The South African community deserve the title of perfected musical singing artists extraordinaire.
You could hear a pin drop as we all were so engrossed in a historic masterpiece. The Late President Nelson Mandela would have been overwhelmed with his country folks dramatic delivery.
We must all make a combined effort to unearth the lost histories of communities and generations of people. There must be an acceptance of wrong doing and catastrophic abuse because what happens in the dark always come to light. It is now time to encourage children from the different continents to watch performances together and have open and honest discussions about our ancestry and the significant contributions people have made to world history.
I would like Mousetrap together with the Royal Opera House to lead the way in campaigning for collective international performances linked to the school curriculum to help bridge the understanding of history followed by a Q and A session afterwards. One school from South Africa, London and elsewhere to delve into the history of the SS Mendi and its crew.
I am sure that the audience present  would also like to be involved in the campaigning and working together with new communities and benefitting collectively from shared cognizance. The multicultural London Borough of Lewisham would love to be involved in such a pilot scheme with secondary school children engaging with students from the Cape Colony as they analyse sensitively facts and fake news.
Positively Brilliant. I walked away feeling upset, hurt but completely honoured to have witnessed Dancing a Death Drill.
Thank you Mousetrap and partners. The struggles continue....

Header Image Credit: Elaine Longmore

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