Mary Prince was born into enslavement on the British owned Island of Bermuda 1788? As with many enslaved people exact records of births and deaths can be difficult to come by and Mary's birth year is an estimation. She was the daughter of a House slave and a Sawyer nothing unusual there but through Mary's narrative we are given rare insights into her life as an enslaved person. We learn of moments of love, conflict and some of the intricacies of chattel slavery that are seldom heard. When Mary's narrative was 1st published it was the harsh realities the brutality of enslavement the treatment and dehumanisation of people that shocked readers. Also it was the fact of a woman speaking of flogging, of work that wasn't just back breaking but life taking. She gives us her words and thoughts of how it felt to be enslaved, owned bought and sold. Mary's story gives us the voice of the 'chattel' those voices that are often silent, silenced, ignored of spoken for. Many who read her book could now picture enslaved people more fully as people with feelings, hopes and dreams. It also again highlighted Britain's role in enslavement, often today many of us think of slavery as an American experience, hearing stories of the deep south, and forget that Britain played a major role. Mary's words help to remind us.
Mary Prince - Timeline
1785 Born into Slavery the property of Mr Charles Myners in Bermuda
1791? SOLD to Old Captain Darrel with her Mother
1801 SOLD to Capt. John Ingham
1806 SOLD to Slaver Mr D to work in salt ponds in Turks & Caicos
1810-14 Owner Mr D retires and takes Mary back to Bermuda
1815 SOLD to John Adams Wood of Antigua
1817 Joined the church and was baptised
1826 Married former slave Daniel James
1828 Wood takes Mary to London without her husband
1829 Mary leaves Wood, meets abolitionist Thomas Pringle & goes to work for him
1831 Wrote ‘History of Mary Prince’
1833 Mary testifies in libel cases arising from book
1834 Slavery Abolition Act passed
1838 Colonies completed Abolition
As well as being the first woman to present an anti -slavery petition to parliament and the first black woman to write and publish an autobiography in Britain, Mary's legacy is that she gives voice to one of the many, many enslaved stories that resent history has chosen to ignore and forget.
Britain's links to the slave trade can still be seen through out the nation today. From country houses, factories, ports, Universities, Banking, the Church and more - they were all built on or profited from this trade in human lives over centuries. The profits gained from chattel slavery helped to finance the Industrial Revolution and the Caribbean islands became the hub of the British Empire.
1698 - The British Parliament opens the slave trade to all and the number of slaves transported on English ships increases dramatically to an average of 20,000 per year. By the end of the 17th century, England leads the world in the trafficking of slaves.
1780's - The slave trade reaches its peak. It is estimated that one slave ship leaves Britain every other day.The toll on human life is considerable. The Privy Council estimate that half of the slaves are dying either in transit or in the initial period after their arrival (called 'the seasoning').
The sugar colonies were Britain's most valuable. By the end of the eighteenth century, four million pounds came into Britain from its West Indian plantations, compared with one million from the rest of the world.
After audiences overwhelmingly positive responses to Mary Prince, Her words Her story and me in the Off Beat festival 2018, we decided to continue with Mary Prince’s journey.
We developed the show from a solo piece to a two-hander and went into the rehearsals for SOLD in January 2019.
Below is a summary of SOLD’s history of the past 3 years from 2019 – 2022.
Jan – Mar We went into rehearsals with a full creative team ahead of performances at the Old Fire Station Oxford February. Kuumba Nia Arts becomes an Evolve Company with a residency at Oxford Playhouse and it is agreed that SOLD shall head to the Edinburgh Fringe festival 2019.
May – Jun Kuumba Nia Arts becomes the 1st winner of the Propeller scheme North Wall and Oxfordshire Theatre Makers and the show we are developing is SOLD
Aug - Edinburgh Fringe 27 performances of SOLD and our 1st award – Winner of Best Ensemble in a Musical theatre show
Oct - We perform SOLD at CornerStone Didcot
Feb - We take SOLD to Vault Festival and win our 2nd award Best Theatre show of the week for week 1
Lock Down changes the world landscape theatres like most other spaces close.
Jul – Aug We created an Education pack for SOLD while the theatres were dark
Dec - Filming of SOLD for streaming as part of the Off piste Festival…..
Jan – Mar SOLD is streamed online as part of Arts at Old Fire Station Off Piste season.
July- We went out on tour again bringing Mary's story to new audiences in Cumbria, Birmingham, Sheffield, Wiltshire and Dorset.
Highlights Rural Touring - Cumbria July 7 - 10
Migration Festival - Sheffield July 12 -13
Theatre Deli - Information and tickets
Birmingham Fest - Birmingham July 20 - 21
Blue Orange Theatre - Information and tickets
SOLD won our 3rd award Best Show at Birmingham Fest 2021!!!!!!!
WOMAD - Wiltshire- July - 22 - 26 - CANCELLED
Nne Agwe Storytelling Festival - Dorset - July 26 - 29
Oct – Nov SOLD ran for 3 weeks at Park 90
Nov – Arts Reach Rural touring 3 performances across Dorest
Feb – SOLD performances at London Metropolitan University
We won the OFFies - Winners of 2 OFFies Best lead actor and Best Supporting Actor in a play
Mar- SOLD goes international and opens the Bermuda Festival with the 1st live performance in Bermuda since lock down began.
Jun- Jul 23-25 June 7.30pm Old Fire Station. Oxford Click here
2 July 7.30pm The Phoenix Theatre & Arts Centre Click here
6 July 6pm Mercury Theatre Click here
7 July 1.30pm Criterion Blue Click here
21 -23 July our 2nd international trip SOLD does 3 performances in Chicago at The Physical Theater Festival Chicago Click here
Sept – Oct 24, 25 Sept FEAST Theatre Festival Click here
13 Oct Trinity College
14 Oct 7.30pm The Barn, Christ Church, Abingdon. Click here
Audiences at Edinburgh Fringe 2019 share their thoughts on SOLD
Immensely powerful and artistically vibrant! A must see!
For us, the question of whether to see SOLD this week at Vault Fest is a no brainer, go! It’s unique, moving and transcendent.
Click here to read more
This two-woman show embraces it all, packing this story of family separation, numerous masters, and a quest for freedom into an hour. Dance, music and ritual are embedded into the dramaturgy, too....
There are pieces of theatre that come about that need to be seen, that have a frightening relevance and a timeless power that will leave you both incredibly moved but also reflective of the world we find ourselves in. SOLD is one of those pieces.
“A masterclass in storytelling with minimal set, proving the power of words”
I was introduced into a space where my history was given the platform it deserved..... Sold asks you to see each victim of slavery as an individual with a face, a history, a mind and a heart. Each life existed and has the right to be thought of and remembered as such.
“..a hauntingly gripping presentation that stays with you long after the curtain goes down.
Sold is a deeply moving representation of one woman’s extraordinary struggle to overthrow a world order she was born into."
“As a theatrical play, (Sold) works incredibly well…It’s a complex story, and yet this production makes it easy to follow proceedings. An engaging combination of spoken word, music and movement come together to provide an intense and lively experience”
“Sold’ is, in short, a masterpiece that demands to be seen”
“Told through an intoxicating mix of song, live drumming, dance and the West African tradition of ‘griot’ storytelling, these disciplines are brilliantly interwoven making for a seamless, expressive and at times very real depiction of Prince’s experiences. …this is a hugely enlightening and powerful piece. …a vital contribution to Black British Theatre and well-deserving of the huge acclaim it has so far received.
“The History of Mary Prince (1831)… may not be as familiar a slave narrative as those of Olaudah Equinano or Frederick Douglass, for example, but its vivid tale deserves to be heard”
“The show’s musical component is a beautiful addition to the evening, a host of original pieces capturing the show’s thoughtful mood. Sold is an integral, thought provoking piece of work – a crucial watch!”
" brutally beautiful – portraying the inhumanity shown to slaves and Mary’s strength to endure....
Horrifying but uplifting, and performed with infectious passion, Sold is a story that needs to be shared."
"Anderson adds intensity through percussion and song to the brilliant versatile acting of Edmead ...
Sold is an impressive and varied work of historical theatre, bringing due prominence to the story of Mary Prince."
" It was honest, creative, and sad. It is the type of play that will force people to reflect deeply on the cruel past of British History.. If you want to learn more about Mary Prince and want a true history lesson into the British slave trade, then I would recommend watching Sold."