Article by Khatija Hussain | Photos by Jessie Hammans
After the Storm is written by Ademola Adeniji and directed by Sally Barnard, the show was held at Willesden Green Library Performance Space from Friday-Sunday, 5-7 October.
After the war, the hardworking men and women in England return to work and try to live normally but with the aftermath of the war, it is hard for those to recover. A time where racism is high and the men and women taken from their homes (the colonised countries) to fight in the war are mistreated just because of the colour of their skin.
After the storm portrays the life of a young man Okoli Madu, mainly known as Madu, returns from war in 1919 from the western front. He served in the British army as a paramedic in the great war, using his knowledge and resources to heal the wounded soldiers. Madu returns to live with his sister Joke, she charges him £1 per month for rent, he is astonished but is willing to pay once he gets a job.
Madu tries to find a job, but is shunned away as his paperwork is not accepted in the United Kingdom – although he was bought by the British from his country to take part in the war. He is told to come back the next week to find a job. It has been three months and Madu owes Joke £3. He leaves her home to eat in a café but is refused service because of the colour of his skin.
Angry at the treatment he has received since the war ended, Madu and his brother Kofe decide to write to the government about the racial injustice and vile treatments black people have been receiving in London. Kofe says to his brother “The colour of our skin was not an issue during the war”.
Riots have started, by white men and women who believe they have unfair treatment and that the “other” people have been taking their jobs. Madu and Kofe campaign for their people and want justice and equality and to be acknowledged that they took part in the war for the British army. But with the struggles they face, will they get the justice they fight for?
The actors’ performances were groundbreakingly fantastic, excellent and touching. Madu’s character, the main lead bought so much depth to each scene and the expressions of hurt, anger and despair was portrayed beautifully. It made me believe and understand what it would be like to be in his shoes. Joke and Kofe’s characters were exceptional, the actors never once broke out of their role, when interacting with the crowd for one scene, I felt I was talking to the characters themselves and that I was part of the delegation. Waja, is a wounded soldier who has been kept in the hospital as he sees painful memories of his fallen soldiers. His character was played so beautifully, the hurt and torment the actor portrayed was extraordinary. From the judge, to the actors who played the rioters, each actor bought something unique to each role, I felt remorse and sorrow for the characters suffering, yet could understand each emotion they portrayed. A brilliant performance by an outstanding cast.
I was moved and loved the performance, I came again for the Sunday show and surprisingly got to play a small part when the recruiter shouted, “Next!” and looked at me in the crowd. It was frightening but exciting to be part of something amazing.
Ademola Adeniji was inspired to write his play by his research on the 1919 riots and the aspect and treatment of black people after the war. The play has been part of a Brent museum exhibition that showcases through January to October. After the Storm is the last part of this project. Learning through the Arts has more upcoming projects soon.
This play brings an important message that needs to be heard. It opens our eyes that racism and the terrible treatment needs to be changed and something has to be done, even today racism is an ongoing problem and needs to be stopped.