|THE GREAT EXPERIMENT - Nisha Dassyne, Tony Guilfoyle & David Furlong. Photo by John Cobb|
The timing for this play to tour the UK and the Global South is perfect. Since the 2010 Equality Act and post-Brexit, we now have a vocabulary and a new freedom to name, address and redress white privilege. In my consultancy work in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) much of the resistance to EDI stems from people who have little sense of the historical context to ongoing institutional systemic racism and its multifaceted impact on Black and Asian Minority Ethnic groups. THE GREAT EXPERIMENT addresses, both brutally and in deeply touching human ways, those holes in the collective memory, and, in turn, the holes that this vacuum has dug into our souls on both sides of the equation. The colonial history of Britain has never been more relevant today as the momentum kick started by David Lammy manifests itself into EDI programmes and frameworks across institutions. The University of Glasgow is leading the way in its public acknowledgment of the slavery related profits that the University has benefited from. It has embarked on a programme of reparative justice which includes an ongoing partnership with the University of the West Indies. THE GREAT EXPERIMENT reminds us why we must imperatively do more.
|THE GREAT EXPERIMENT. Tony Guilfoyle & Tobi King Bakare. Photo by John Cobb|
The Mauritian state glorifies the Aapravasi Ghat where indentured labourers landed, and leaves a deliberate hole next to it where the Museum of slavery should stand. THE GREAT EXPERIMENT reminds us that it is not the Aapravasi Ghat that is laughing. It is the colonial project that is laughing at its unimagined perennial success to divide and rule. The play is bold, almost brash, in its intention to touch us where it hurts the most, not for the sake of it, but to allow us to confront our self-perceptions and our perceptions of otherness. Dragging us to the hold of the Cutty Sark, through the dark pages of British history and its sequels, in spite of everything that we wish to know and not know about ourselves, THE GREAT EXPERIMENT somehow manages to elevate its audience, in the way that only art can.
Equality, Diversity, Inclusion Consultant
University of Nottingham.