Burn My Hear – UK Tour

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‘How does it feel to have your book made into a play by someone else?’
 
‘It’s a bit like giving up a baby for adoption,’ I say. ‘You want the new parents to be really good!’

Burn My Heart is set in Kenya over fifty years ago. Mathew is a settler boy and Mugo is his family’s ‘kitchen toto’.  This is when the Land and Freedom Army  – or Mau Mau – rebelled against the white settlers who had taken their land. Thousands of British soldiers were sent to crush the rebellion. Mathew and Mugo’s friendship is put to the fiercest test. 

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Just as the book was being published, an email from a theatre director in Plymouth popped into my inbox. Oliver Jones said that he hoped to create a company called Blindeye – to make theatre about human rights – and he wanted to read Burn My Heart.

This was more than three years ago.  Since then Olly joined Trestle Theatre which has a fantastic reputation for ‘physical theatre’. I love this style. Few props, lots of imagination and actors who can change who they are in a second. So a cast of five can play twenty characters. When Olly got back in touch last year, we arranged to meet and talked by email.

I still had to decide: Could I trust him with my story?  After saying ‘Yes’, and agreeing that Rina Vergano would adapt the novel, I knew that I must step back.  Olly had to be free as the director.  He invited me to an early rehearsal so the cast could quiz me about their characters, and then I had to let this ‘baby’ go. 

Of course I was nervous until I saw the preview. Huge relief! My characters were so alive, their drama so intense and the sounds of their world so real, including the elephant! You can catch a glimpse here  and to see if the play is coming to a venue near you click here. I hope it is – and, if you watch it, let me know what you think!

Beverley Naidoo

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