A creative departure from his many poetry collections, John Agard brings his irreverent wit from page to stage, as he variously takes on the voices of Christopher Columbus, the Atlantic, a native shaman, a mutinous crew, and even a chorus of politically-engaged mosquitoes. Written in verse and performed against a background soundscape of Atlantic murmurings and symphonic mosquito buzzing, Agard takes his audience on a fantastical, fanatical historic voyage that still bears relevance to contemporary issues. Roll Over Atlantic is a satirical revisiting of the voyages of Columbus. Whether glorified or vilified, Columbus’ accidental ‘discovery’ of the so-called New World gave a kickstart to globalisation, bridging Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, and joining forever the fates of these separate hemispheres and eco-systems
‘My influences behind my latest show include what I would describe as having the sentiment of the “Poetsonian” – a combination of poetry and the rhythms of calypso – and the satirical, irreverent potential of cabaret. As a former Poet In Resident at the National Maritime Museum, producing work to accompany objects in the museum’s Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire gallery, I found myself wondering how could the Atlantic, so tainted by the slave trade, find redemption, “to make a libation of itself”’ – John Agard
Famed as an outstanding performer and a multi-award-winning poet, John Agard was winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2012 and was a guest on Desert Island Discs in 2014 (listen here). Born and educated in Guyana, John came to Britain in 1977. His awards include the Casa de las Américas Prize (1982), Paul Hamlyn Award (1997) and a Cholmondeley Award (2004). His book, We Brits, was shortlisted for the Decibel Writer of the Year Award and he has won the Guyana Prize twice. In 1989 he became the first Writer in Residence at London’s South Bank Centre and has subsequently been poet-in-residence at the BBC and the National Maritime Museum. His many collections of poetry for children and adults, include Travel Light, Travel Dark and Alternative Anthem, The Young Inferno – a spin on Dante’s classic for young readers which was awarded the 2009 CLPE Poetry Prize – andGoldilocks on CCTV, a teenage collection inspired by Fairy Tales. He is on the current GCSE syllabus and performs his work widely across Britain as part of GCSE Poetry Live. His plays and works for performance include Puff (Crosspath Theatre, 2013), Dead Head (in collaboration with composer Orlando Gough) and a number of works for Little Angel Marionette Theatre.
Director Mark C. Hewitt is a director and playwright. Recent directing work includes Dementia Diaries by Maria Jastrzebska (LLL Productions, 2009/2011), Weight: three stories about secrets by Catherine Smith (LLL Productions, 2010), Puff by John Agard (Crosspath Theatre, 2013), Dora vs Picasso by Grace Nichols (2015) and Zones of Avoidance by Maggie Sawkins (2013/14), which was winner of The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.