Born into enslavement on the Caribbean island of Bermuda in 1785, Mary Prince was the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament. She also testified at two libel cases following the publication of her autobiography The History of Mary Prince (published in 1831). In its first year, it sold out three times. Mary Prince, after escaping servitude, became an autobiographer and abolitionist as well as activist. Her autobiography – that details her experiences of enslavement – includes the disabling impact of colonial violence on her body, furthermore to experiences of sexual violence.
On 27th April, I went to watch a dramatisation of her life by Kuumba Nia Arts in collabaration with Unlock the Chains Collective as part of their tour. Showing at Banbury’s Mill, it was written by Amanta Edmead starring Lola May as Mary and other characters. The play also co-starred Angie Amra Anderson who brought an added dimension bringing African songs as a layer to what was being performed on stage.
On the downside, the forced audience particpation was also ableist (hmmm). Aside from that, SOLD is a sound production with the beat of the drum coming with activist connotations juxtaposed to this slave story. Escaped from enslavement, Mary Prince vanishes from the records. But SOLD shows us creative interventions are needed when it comes to history, as Black voices in the archives have long been silenced – so it’s time we put those voices back!