THE HIGH TABLE by Temi Wilkey ; Jumoké Fashola plays Mosun ; Cherrelle Skeete plays Tara ; Ibinabo Jack plays Leah ; David Webber plays Segun ; Stefan Adegbola plays Teju ; Cast portraits ; Photographer: Helen Murray Art Director: Doug Kerr ; Bush Theatre ; London, UK ; 7 January 2020 ; Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

The High Table takes to the stage to examine same-sex marriage and LGBT+ history in Africa

An epic family drama plays out between the heavens and earth in The High Table, the hilarious and heartbreaking debut play from Temi Wilkey.

Opening at London’s Bush Theatre on 8 February before transferring Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 25 March, the cast includes Stefan Adegbola, Jumoké Fashola and Ibinabo Jack.

Cherrelle Skeete, David Webber and musician Mohamed Gueye have also been announced as members of the cast.

‘That’s actually what me and Leah came here to talk to you about. Look- there’s no easy way of saying this, but… Leah and I are getting married.’

The dresses are chosen, the venue’s booked and the RSVPs are flooding in but Tara’s perfect Nigerian wedding to her girlfriend Leah is suddenly derailed when her parents refuse to attend. 

High above London, suspended between the stars, three of Tara’s ancestors are jolted from their eternal rest. Can these representatives of generations passed keep the family together? And will Tara’s decision ever get their blessing?

Since 2014 and the introduction of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, life for LGBTQ Nigerians has become increasingly difficult and unsafe and across Africa.

In countries including Zimbabwe, Uganda and Gambia, many Africans see homosexuality as ‘un-African’.  However, there is much evidence that African culture has historically been very inclusive of LGBT+ people.

THE HIGH TABLE by Temi Wilkey ; Jumoké Fashola plays Mosun ; Cherrelle Skeete plays Tara ; Ibinabo Jack plays Leah ; David Webber plays Segun ; Stefan Adegbola plays Teju. Credit and copyright: Helen Murray

There are descriptions, words, and phrases in Yorùbá and Hausa languages; there is Bushman artwork which depicts men engaging in same-sex activity and in the Buganda Kingdom, which forms part of modern-day Uganda; King Mwanga II was openly gay and faced no issues with his subjects until the Christian church brought its condemnation.

Related: Trans poet and artist Reece Lyons to play one of Shakespeare’s ‘Fierce Sisters’

The call for a re-telling of history, remembering true African culture as one that celebrates diversity is growing and forms the basis of discussion amongst the modern-day characters and their ancestors in The High Table.

Temi Wilkey said The High Table celebrates Yorùbá culture.

“It’s a celebration of queerness and being African and the way these not only compliment but speak to each other.”

Temi Wilkey, an actor and writer from North London, has previously appeared in BBC’s Years and Years and ITV’s Manhunt. She is also the co-founder and co-director of drag king collective Pecs.

The High Table runs at The Bush Theatre, London from February 8 until March 21. You can book tickets here.

It will then transfer to Birmingham Repertory Theatre from March 25 until April 9.

Written by QWEERIST editor

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