With Zadie Smith’s The Wife of Willesden currently running at the company’s home base in Kilburn ahead of a transfer to the US, Kiln Theatre’s Artistic Director Indhu Rubasingham today announces the world première of Ryan Calais Cameron’s new play based on a true event in the life of actor Sidney Poitier in 1950s Hollywood. From the writer of the award-winning, smash hit For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy, Retrograde will be directed by Kiln Associate Director Amit Sharma.

The production will open at the Kiln Theatre on 26 April, with previews from 20 April, and will run until 27 May 2023. Casting to be announced.

Indhu Rubasingham said today, “It’s a real privilege to be producing Ryan Calais Cameron’s next play following his smash hit For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy… Directed by Associate Director Amit Sharma, this brand new play about Sidney Poitier promises to be both insightful and relevant.”

Ryan Calais Cameron added, “What drew me to writing a play about the Hollywood Blacklist is the intricacies around the idea of what it means to be Blacklisted and also Black. Retrograde tells the unheard story how Sidney Poitier, the cultural icon that we know and love, came to be and the huge decision he had to make. It explores what it feels to be an artist of colour, and the decisions and challenges we navigate on a day-to-day basis. It’s the right time to tell this story and ask these questions – the play explores what was, but also what is.”

Amit Sharma added: “Retrograde was the first script I read as Kiln Associate Director. I was blown away by it; the extraordinary Ryan Calais Cameron has written a complex and gripping play exploring a moment in Sidney Poitier’s life which reinforces the legend. I’m honoured to be directing it.”

Kiln Theatre presents
By Ryan Calais Cameron

20 April – 27 May 2023
Press night 26 April

Directed by Amit Sharma; Designed by Frankie Bradshaw; Lighting Design by Amy Mae;
Sound Design by Beth Duke; Casting Direction by Juliet Horsley CDG;
Kiln-Mackintosh Resident Assistant Director Jessica Mensah

The Golden Age of Hollywood. Behind closed doors, aspiring actor Sidney Poitier is offered a lucrative contract that could make him a superstar. But what is he willing to sacrifice?

From the writer of award-winning, sold-out, For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy, Ryan Calais Cameron’s explosive new play explores identity, resilience, and integrity as it examines a true event in 1960’s Hollywood and the reality of a Black actor’s journey to stardom.

Directed by Kiln Associate Director Amit Sharma (The Boy with Two Hearts, Then Barbara Met Alan), this world premiere explores a moment in a career which paved ways and changed perceptions, cementing the legacy of a Hollywood icon. Retrograde asks the question; how much have we really evolved?

Ryan Calais Cameron’s plays include For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy (Nouveau Riche/Boundless/New Diorama/Royal Court Theatre - Black British Theatre Awards 2022 - Best Production Play Award, he was the winner of Best Director Award alongside Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, and also joint-winner of Best Performer in a Play at 2022 Stage Debut Awards), Living Newspaper, My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid), (Royal Court Theatre), Human Nurture (Theatre Centre/Crucible, Sheffield/UK tour), Queens of Sheba [co-writer] (Nouveau Riche/Edinburgh Festival Fringe/New Diorama/UK tour -  Edinburgh Untapped Award, The Stage Edinburgh Award, Offie Award for Best Performance Piece), Typical (Nouveau Riche/Edinburgh Festival Fringe/Soho Theatre), Rhapsody (Arcola Theatre - Off West End Adopt A Playwright Award), and Timbuktu (Black Lives Black Words Festival, Bush/Theatre Royal, Stratford East). He is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Nouveau Riche Theatre Company.

Associate Director of Kiln Theatre, Amit Sharma is an award-winning theatre and television director.
Amit trained with Missing Piece 1 (Graeae Theatre Company). Work in theatre includes The Boy with Two Hearts (National Theatre / Wales Millennium Centre); One Under and The Solid Life of Sugar Water (also at the National Theatre) for Graeae and Theatre Royal Plymouth; Aruna and the Raging Sun for Graeae, the British Council, India and La Fura Dels Baus as part of UK/India Year of Culture 2017; Cosmic Scallies for Graeae and the Royal Exchange, Manchester; Iron Man for Graeae on UK and international tour; Prometheus Awakes for Graeae, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, Stockton International Riverside Festival and La Fura Dels Baus, as part of London 2012 Festival. TV includes Then Barbara Met Alan, Hamish (Prix d’Italia winner, part of BAFTA-nominated Criptales season) and Thunderbox (part of BAFTA-nominated Criptales season). He was previously Deputy Artistic Director of Birmingham Rep, Associate Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange, Manchester and Associate Director at Graeae Theatre Company.

Kiln Theatre
269 Kilburn High Road, London, UK, NW6 7JR

Box Office: 020 7328 1000

Mon – Sat 7.30pm, Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm (after press night)

Tickets from £15-£35
All tickets for first preview £15

Kiln Theatre: Until 11 February 2023
American Repertory Theater, Harvard University: 25 February – 18 March 2023
Harvey Theater, BAM Strong, Brooklyn: 1 – 16 April 2023

20 April – 27 May 2023
Press Night 26 April
Post show Q&A: Tues 2 May