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New UK play explores legacy of slavery in Ghana and beyond

Updated: Jan 11

Samuel is a tourist guide at a former slave dungeon – not dissimilar to Ghana’s Cape Coast Castle. He delivers 10 tours day, six days a week and enjoys his job.

'Samuel Takes A Break' artwork

But when the 2019 Year of Return initiative attracts millions of tourists from Africa’s diaspora to Ghana, including the arrival of two Black Britons Letty and Trev, their presence forces Samuel to confront truths and transform his relationship with history.

Samuel Takes A Break …in Male Dungeon No. 5 After A Long But Generally Successful Day of Tours is a debut play written by Rhianna Ilube and directed by Anthony Simpson-Pike.

The play, which has been described as 'a genre-bending odyssey on the legacy of slavery within Ghana and beyond', was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Playwriting.

It was also highly commended for the Soho Theatre's Verity Bargate Award, and will showcase at the Yard Theatre from 9 February to 9 March 2024.

Ghana launched the Year of Return initiative in 2019 to encourage Africa’s diaspora to come to Ghana for business, leisure or to settle. The initiative also marks 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in the USA.

The play

Set and Costume Designer Milla Clarke

Sound Designer Xana 

Lighting Designer Chris Nairne 

Video Designer Gino Ricardo Green

Movement Director Sung Im Her

Casting Director Jatinder Chera, all of whom recently worked on The Yard’s biggest-selling show The Flea.

The cast

Fode Simbo plays Samuel

He last performed at The Yard Theatre in Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s critically acclaimed An unfinished man

Fode Simbo (Samuel)
Fode Simbo (Samuel)

He graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and gained recognition for his role in Under the Kunde Tree at Southwark Playhouse, earning a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Black British Theatre Awards.

Other recent stage credits include Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe), Young Marx (The Bridge Theatre), and SOLARIS (Lyric Hammersmith/Edinburgh Lyceum).

His TV credits include The Reckoning (BBC), Andor (Disney+), Hijack (Apple TV), Vigil (BBC), Summer of Rockets (BBC), Philip K Dick: Electric Dreams (Channel 4), and Little Women (BBC). His film credits include Fisherman’s Friends (Fred Films).

Bola Akeju plays Orange

Bola Akeju.plays Orange
Bola Akeju (Orange)

Bola has just finished leading in School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play at the Lyric Hammersmith, earning a nomination for a Black British Theatre Award for her role.

She recently played opposite Bukky Bakray in The Girls’ Club and features in the third season of Jason Sudeikis’ Emmy Award-winning series Ted Lasso. Upon leaving RADA, Bola played the lead in KLIPPIES at the Young Vic.

Tori Allen-Martin plays Letty

Tori Allen Martin (Letty)
Tori Allen-Martin (Letty)

Tori is a regular in BBC 1 comedy Here We Go and was previously seen as a leading regular in 4 series of BBC’s London Kills and as a regular on Channel 4’s Pure.

Further television credits include Mrs Sidhu Investigates (Acorn); Significant Other (Hatrick); Plebs: The War (the finale) (Rise films); The Other Half (Ranga Bee Productions); Flatshare (42 for Paramount+); Back To Life (Two Brothers Pictures); and Pandemonium (BBC).

Recent stage credits include Then, Now and Next (Southwark Playhouse); Park Bench (Park Theatre); One Man, Two Guvnors (New Wolsey, Ipswich/Nuffield Southampton); The Season (Glass Half Full Productions and Tim Johanson); The Hardest One (The Other Palace/ Criterion); and Hair the Musical (European tour).

Stefan Asante-Boateng plays Trev

Stefan Asante-Boateng (Trev)
Stefan Asante-Boateng (Trev)

He is a British-Ghanaian actor who trained at the Identity School Of Acting. His most recent screen credits include Wire in This Town for the BBC, CPS Judge Kwame Boateng on ITV’s long-running soap Coronation Street, and BBC’s Killing Eve.

In 2020, he won a Screen Nation Award for Best Actor in a Series for his work on the web series Suffering.

Feature films include The Fallout. Short Films include Tina, Meaning, It Takes A Town, Meet Me By The Sea, The Moderator, At Play, Grounding, Red Flag, The Other Side and 2 Bags. Stage credits include Eternal Ages: The Musical (Shaw Theatre), Brit Aint Right (Maktub Theatre) and Eggs In The Basket (Courtyard Theatre).


The playwright

Rhianna Ilube is a playwright and events curator from London. She is currently a member of the Soho Six and an alumni of the Royal Court Intro Group, Oxford Playmakers, BBC London Voices and Omnibus Theatre's Engine Room.

Rhianna Ilube Credit Becky Mursell
Rhianna Ilube Credit Becky Mursell

She developed her first TV pilot with Expanded Media for a Sky Table Read in May 2023. Rhianna was previously associate director at interactive theatre-makers Coney, where she has written '1884', a new game-theatre show premiering in Spring 2024.

She is also a film programmer for BFI Flare, and has curated events for cultural venues and NGOs across London and Berlin since 2015.


The director

Anthony Simpson-Pike is a director, dramaturg and writer. He is currently deputy artistic director at The Yard Theatre and was previously associate director at the Gate Theatre.

Anthony Simpson Pike Credit Camilla Greenwell
Anthony Simpson Pike Credit Camilla Greenwell

Anthony is also a facilitator, having worked with young people and communities at the Gate, the Royal Court, the Young Vic, the Globe, and the National Theatre. Recent directorial work includes the Olivier award-winning The P Word and Lava at the Bush; An Octoroon at the Abbey, Dublin; Living Newspaper at the Royal Court; The Electric for Paines Plough and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; and The Ridiculous Darkness at the Gate, London.

The Yard

The Yard Theatre works with artists who reflect the diversity of East London, and who tell new stories. The Yard Theatre has developed artists including Michaela Coel, Alexander Zeldin, Marikiscrycrycry and Dipo Baruwa-Etti.

The Yard Theatre is at Unit 2a Queen's Yard, London E9 5EN, is two minutes walk from Hackney Wick Station, and 20 minutes walk from Stratford Station.


Tickets are priced from £12. Locals get 30% off all tickets with a free Yard Local Card. U28s can get £5 tickets on the door to all performances that are not sold out with No Empty Seats.

Date, time and venue

9 February - 9 March

Monday - Saturday at 7:30pm

Matinees - Saturday 24 February & 2, 9 March at 2:30pm

Tickets can be booked at

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