Les Blancs was the last play written by Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun) and it tackles the traumatic legacy of colonialism.
Les Blancs (French for “The Whites”) is set in a fictional African colony on the edge of civil war. Tshembe, the expatriate son of a tribal elder, returns from England for his father’s funeral and finds his country in the midst of a violent struggle to expel their colonial masters and claim independence. He finds himself torn between joining the bloody Resistance or maintaining the life he has built for himself elsewhere.
Les Blancs debuted on Broadway in 1970 at the Longacre Theater and starred James Earl Jones as Tshembe, for which he won a Drama Desk Award. The production was also nominated for two Tony Awards.
The play will be streamed as part of the UK National Theatre at Home initiative. This production was filmed live in 2016 by the National Theatre. It was directed by Yaël Farber (Mies Julie, Nirbhaya) and stars Danny Sapani (Medea, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl) as Tshembe.
The stream will be available on the National Theatre’s Youtube Channel from July 2 at 7pm (London time) to July 9.
Les Blancs is the most recent in the National Theatre’s illustrious lineup of productions that have streamed since April following A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Small Island, The Madness of George III, Coriolanus, This House, A Streetcar Named Desire, Barber Shop Chronicles, Antony and Cleopatra, Frankenstein, Twelfth Night, Jane Eyre, Treasure Island, and One Man, Two Guvnors.
Before the show streams, viewers can watch a panel discussion here about the context of the African, European and American narrative, and the role of trauma in the play.
Check out the trailer for Les Blancs below: