Kiln Theatre presents
by Ryan Calais-Cameron
‘Mr Parks, this isn’t just a movie, it’s a whole movement. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant.’
The Golden Age of Hollywood. Behind closed doors, aspiring actor Sidney Poitier is offered a lucrative contract that could make him a superstar. But what is he willing to sacrifice?
From the writer of award-winning, sold-out, For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy, Ryan Calais Cameron’s explosive new play explores identity, resilience, and integrity as it examines a true event in 1950’s Hollywood and the reality of a Black actor’s journey to stardom.
Directed by Kiln Associate Director Amit Sharma (The Boy with Two Hearts), this world premiere explores a moment in a career which paved ways and changed perceptions, cementing the legacy of a Hollywood icon. Retrograde asks the question; how much have we really evolved?
Age Guidance: 14+
Post show Q&A: Tues 2 May, 7.30pm
For content advice, click here.
All performances of Retrograde will be audio described.
Please note: you will need to pre-book a headset for the date of your performance. We cannot guarantee use of headsets if you arrive without pre-booking.
If this option isn’t available when booking online, or you wish to add this on after purchase, please contact Box Office on email@example.com or call 020 7328 1000.
Listen to introductory notes for the audio description here.
Audio Described Performances: All performances
Touch Tour: Thu 18 May, 6pm
Captioned Performances: Thu 11 May 7.30pm; Fri 12 May 7.30pm; Sat 13 May, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Relaxed Performance: Sat 20 May, 2.30pm
For an Easy Read of the play, including specific detail on content and sound, click here.
Approximately 90 minutes with no interval
‘Capably directed by Amit Sharma and beautifully acted, propels Ryan Calais Cameron, at a stroke, to the front rank of our playwrights’
‘Ivanno Jeremiah gives a career-best performance as Sidney Poitier’
‘Ryan Calais Cameron’s portrait of Sidney Poitier is electrifying’
‘Jeremiah gives a magnetic central performance as Poitier’
Photos by Marc Brenner
Theatre credits include Death of a Salesman (Young Vic/West End); Ma Vie en Rose (Young Vic); Jellyfish (Bush Theatre); Be Prepared (Edinburgh Festival Fringe/VAULT Festival); Arden of Faversham, The Witch of Edmonton, The Roaring Girl (RSC); The Blackest Black (Hampstead Theatre); Brilliant Adventures (Royal Exchange Theatre); Me as a Penguin (Arcola Theatre); DNA, The Miracle (National Theatre).
Television credits include: Deadline, I May Destroy You, Damilola: Our Loved Boy, New Blood, Holy Flying Circus, Going Postal.
Film credits include: Interlude in Prague, Spectre, Skyfall, Kon-Tiki, Starter for 10, 1234, Atonement, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People.
Ivanno Jeremiah is a Ugandan-born television, film and theatre actor. He studied at the BRIT School of Performing Arts, and then at RADA.
Theatre credits include: The Convert, Measure for Measure (Young Vic); A Soldier’s Tale (City of London Sinfonia); The Nether, Truth and Reconciliation (Royal Court); Julius Caesar (RSC); The Suit (International Tour); Welcome Home (Pleasance Theatre); As You Like It (West Yorkshire Playhouse).
Film credits include: Woken, The Flood, Bees Make Honey, Film Stars don’t Die in Liverpool, Julius Caesar, The Veteran and Papadopoulos & Sons.
Television credits include: Lockwood & Co, A Discovery of Witches, Cold Feet, Counterpart, Humans, Black Mirror, Injustice, The Jury, Julius Caesar, The Hollow Crown, The Jury.
For Kiln: The Invisible Hand, Holy Sh!t
Theatre credits include: The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe); Other Desert Cities, Hedda Gabler (The Old Vic Theatre); The Winter’s Tale (Sheffield Crucible); The Dance of Death (Donmar at Trafalgar); All My Sons (Apollo Theatre); Scenes from the Back of Beyond, F**cking Games (Royal Court); Les Parents Terribles, King Lear (Sydney Theatre Co.); Island (Belvoir Street Theatre); Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, Hamlet (Bell Shakespeare Co.)
Television credits include: The Queen of Oz, Upright, Van Der Valk, Who is My Husband, Black Mirror: Black Museum, Black Mirror, The Durrells, Catastrophe, Critical, Vexed, Inspector Lewis, Vera, Identity, Moonshot, Hotel Babylon, Sex, The City and Me, Jane Hall, The Good Housekeeping Guide, Golden Hour, Jericho, Death on the Nile, Red Cap, Helen of Troy, I Saw You, Tenth Kingdom.
Ryan Calais Cameron
Ryan Calais Cameron’s For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy premiered at New Diorama Theatre, transferring to Royal Court, then Apollo Theatre, West End in March 2023 (producers: Nouveau Riche/Boundless/New Diorama/Royal Court Theatre). At Black British Theatre Awards 2022 it won Best Production Play Award and Best Director Award [co-director]; at Stage Debut Awards 2022 the ensemble were joint-winners of Best Performer in a Play.
Other productions include Living Newspaper, My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid), (Royal Court Theatre); Human Nurture (Theatre Centre/Crucible Sheffield co-produced UK tour); Queens of Sheba [co-writer] (producers: Nouveau Riche/New Diorama/Soho Theatre) premiered at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and New Diorama, won Edinburgh Untapped Award, The Stage Edinburgh Award, Offie Award for Best Performance Piece. It toured UK and was revived twice at Soho Theatre before its 2023 run at Chelsea Factory, New York.
Also, Typical (Nouveau Riche/Soho Theatre) at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Soho Theatre; Rhapsody won Off West End Adopt A Playwright Award 2018 and was produced at Arcola Theatre (Nouveau Riche); Timbuktu produced at Black Lives Black Words Festival, Bush/Theatre Royal, Stratford East (Nouveau Riche). Ryan is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Nouveau Riche Theatre Company. He also writes for Film and Television.
Amit Sharma trained with Missing Piece 1 (Graeae Theatre Company). Work in theatre includes The Boy with Two Hearts (National Theatre / Wales Millennium Centre); One Under and The Solid Life of Sugar Water (also at the National Theatre) for Graeae and Theatre Royal Plymouth; Aruna and the Raging Sun for Graeae, the British Council, India and La Fura Dels Baus as part of UK/India Year of Culture 2017; Cosmic Scallies for Graeae and the Royal Exchange, Manchester; Iron Man for Graeae on UK and international tour; Prometheus Awakes for Graeae, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, Stockton International Riverside Festival and La Fura Dels Baus, as part of London 2012 Festival. TV includes Then Barbara Met Alan, Hamish (Prix d’Italia winner, part of BAFTA-nominated Criptales season) and Thunderbox (part of BAFTA-nominated Criptales season). He was previously Deputy Artistic Director of Birmingham Rep, Associate Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange, Manchester and Associate Director at Graeae Theatre Company.
Frankie Bradshaw is an award-winning designer for theatre, dance and opera. She won the Best Creative West End Debut at the Stage Debut Awards 2019 jointly with director Lynette Linton for Sweat (Gielgud Theatre) and the Off West-End Best Set Design award in 2016.
Her many theatre credits include; Blues for An Alabama Sky (Lyttleton/National Theatre); Mad House (West End/Ambassadors Theatre); Local Hero (Minerva Theatre/ Chichester); Unexpected Twist, Two Trains Running (Royal & Derngate); House of Ife (Bush Theatre); Hamlet (Dorfman/National Theatre Tour); We Started to Sing (Arcola Theatre); Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Leicester Curve/UK Tour); A Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast (Rose Theatre, Kingston); The Long Song (Chichester Festival Theatre); The Lemon Table (MGC/Wiltshire Creative); Piaf, Skellig (Nottingham Playhouse); Assembly (Donmar Warehouse); Sweat (West End/Donmar Warehouse); Cinderella (Lyric Hammersmith); A Christmas Carol (Theatre Clwyd); Napoli Brooklyn (UK Tour/Park Theatre); Trying It On (UK Tour/RSC/Royal Court); Kiss Me Kate, Jerusalem, Nesting, Robin Hood (Watermill Theatre); Cookies (Theatre Royal Haymarket); On The Exhale (Traverse); Hansel (Salisbury Playhouse).
Opera designs include Macbeth, Idomeneo and Elizabetta (English Touring Opera) and for Dance, Pinocchio (Northern Ballet).
Amy Mae graduated from the University of Winchester with a BA (Hons) in Stage Management and Performing Arts and went on to study at RADA, where she gained a merit in her Postgraduate Diploma in Stage Electrics and Lighting. She won the Scotsman Edinburgh Fringe First Award in 2022 and the Knight of Illumination award in 2015. She was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Award in 2018
For Kiln: Girl on an Altar.
Theatre credits include: How a City Can Save the World, Wildfire Road (Sheffield Theatres); Shut Up, I’m Dreaming (National Theatre/School’s Tour); Vincent in Brixton (RADA); Say Yes to Tess (Leeds Playhouse/Camden People’s Theatre); When We Dead Awaken (The Print Room at the Coronet); The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Heart (Royal Exchange); The Boy with Two Hearts (National Theatre/Wales Millennium Centre); Rockets and Blue Lights (National Theatre/Royal Exchange); seven methods of killing kylie jenner (Royal Court Theatre); Half Breed (Soho Theatre); The Playboy Of The Western World (Gaiety Theatre/Armagh/The Lyric Theatre Belfast); There Are No Beginnings (Leeds Playhouse); Two Trains Running (Royal & Derngate/ETT/RTST); Noises Off (Lyric Hammersmith); [Un]Leashed: Sense Of Time (Birmingham Royal Ballet); The Memory of Water (Nottingham Playhouse); The Trick (Bush Theatre/UK Tour); Wild East (Young Vic – Genesis Directors Award); Hansel and Gretel (Rose Theatre, Kingston); The Fishermen (Edinburgh Fringe/Arcola Theatre/UK Tour/West End); Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok (Royal Exchange, Uk Tour); Br’er Cotton (Theatre 503); Othello, Jekyll and Hyde, The Host (NYT Rep Season 2017); Half Breed (Talawa – Soho Theatre/Assembly Rooms); Start Swimming (Young Vic/Summerhall Edinburgh); The Ugly One (Park Theatre); Babette’s Feast (The Print Room); Sweeney Todd (Harringtons Pie And Mash Shop/West End/Off-Broadway).
Selected credits include: The Trial of Josie K (Unicorn Theatre); Akedah (Hampstead Theatre); Beauty and the Beast (Mercury Theatre); Amma VR Experience (Tara Theatre); Death Drop: Back in the Habit (Garrick Theatre/UK Tour); A Single Man (Park Theatre); Alice in Wonderland (Mercury Theatre); The Importance of Being Earnest (English Touring Theatre); Bridgerton (Secret Cinema); Mad House (Ambassador’s Theatre); Mog the Forgetful Cat (Royal & Derngate/Old Vic); Robin Hood (Bristol Old Vic); Death Drop (Garrick Theatre/Criterion Theatre/UK Tour); J’Ouvert (Harold Pinter Theatre/BBC); One Jewish Boy (Trafalgar Studios/West End/UK Tour); Typical Girls (Sheffield Crucible Theatre); Scenes with Girls, Living Newspaper (Royal Court Theatre); Isla (Theatre Clwyd); Tuck Shop West End (Garrick Theatre); Patricia Gets Ready (Pleasance Theatre/UK Tour); Gentlemen, Pipeline, A Fantastic Bohemian, Lovesick (Arcola Theatre); Reimagining (Almeida Theatre); Last Easter (Orange Tree Theatre); Mission (The Big House); One Under with Graeae Theatre Company (Plymouth Drum/UK Tour); Superstar, Anything is Possible if You Think Hard Enough About It (Southwark Playhouse); New Views (National Theatre); Silence (Mercury Theatre/UK tour); Together, Not the Same (Sadler’s Wells Theatre); Great Expectations (Geffrey Museum); The State of Things (Brockley Jack Studio);
As associate – The Manor (National Theatre); Gunpowder Immersive Experience (Tower Hill); War of the Worlds Immersive Experience (56 Leadenhall Street); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tobacco Factory); Apollo 13 (Original Theatre Company); Dust (New York Theatre Workshop).
Juliet Horsley CDG
Juliet Horsley’s theatre credit’s include: Kerry Jackson, Welcome to Iran, Nine Night, Oslo, Twelfth Night, Peter Pan, The Plough and the Stars, Sunset at the Villa Thalia, The Suicide, As You Like It, The Motherf****r With the Hat, Three Winters, Treasure Island, The Silver Tassie, Blurred Lines, The World of Extreme Happiness, Protest Song, Edward II, Children of the Sun, Double Feature, Welcome to Thebes, Earthquakes in London (also on UK tour), The Holy Rosenbergs (National Theatre); Hobson’s Choice (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); Disgraced (Bush); The Life of Galileo (Chichester Festival Theatre); Haystack, Ravens: Spassky vs Fischer, Botticelli in the Fire, Wild Honey, Hapgood (Hampstead Theatre); Thyestes, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (Arcola); Copenhagen, Democracy (also at the Old Vic), Benefactors, Frost Nixon, Boeing Boeing, The Village Bike, A Taste of Honey (Sheffield Theatre)s; Ghosts, The Oresteia (Home, Manchester); A View from the Bridge (Liverpool Playhouse); Persuasion (Salisbury Playhouse); The Years Between (Royal & Derngate); Oslo (West End). Film includes Wall, The Send Off and the short films Boy, Alan and Samir and the Toughest Girl in the World.
As associate or assistant casting director, TV credits include: One Child, Jane Eyre, This Life +10, Afterlife,Party Animals, Rome, Murphy’s Law,Sex Traffic.
As associate or assistant casting director, film credits include: Tiger Raid, Take Down, The Painted Veil, Imagine Me and You.
Voice & Dialect Coach
Trained at London College of Fashion.
For Kiln: Girl on an Altar.
Costume Supervision includes: The Walworth Farce (Southwark Playhouse Elephant); A Christmas Carole (Southend Palace); Alice in Wonderland (Brixton House); House of Flamenka (West End); The Memory of Water, Blackout Songs (Hampstead Theatre); Urinetown (Royal Academy of Music); Green Eggs and Ham (Opera North); The Sweet Science of Bruising (Wilton’s Music Hall); The Crowning of Poppea (Hampstead Garden Opera/Jackson’s Lane Theatre); Five Plays (Young Vic); Britten in Brooklyn (Wilton’s Music Hall); Four Play, Clickbait (Theatre 503).
Costume Design includes: Twelfth Night (Theatre on Kew); The Lay of the Land (The Place); Death Drop (West End/UK Tour); Yes So I Said Yes, Not Quite Jerusalem, The Wind of Heaven (Finborough Theatre); Lysistrata (The Cockpit); Heather and Harry (Camden People’s Theatre); King Lear (Pleasure Dome Theatre Company); ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (Tristan Bates Theatre); Tales of Offenbach (Opera Della Luna at Wilton’s Music Hall); Three Brothers (Theatre N16); The Xmas Carol (Old Red Lion); Sense and Sensibility, Mary Stuart,A Streetcar Named Desire (Oxford Playhouse); Blue Stockings,Hay Fever (Old Fire Station Theatre); The Accrington Pals (Ashcroft Theatre).
Wigs and Hair Supervisor
Kiln-Mackintosh Resident Assistant Director
For Kiln: Girl on an Altar, The Wife of Willesden.
Jessica Mensah is currently the Kiln-Mackintosh Resident Assistant Director. She has trained on programmes such as: Stonecrabs Theatre Young Directors Programme (2021), the RTYDS placement at tiata fahodzi (2019) and the Young Vic’s Introduction to Directing programme (2017). She studied BA Theatre & Performance at Guildford School of Acting, University of Surrey. Her short film I Stand Proud was nominated for two FFTG Awards & screened as part of the festival in 2021. Jessica is also the Host & Founder of the YouTube Channel and Podcast called Living in our 20s. As director, theatre credits include: Yerma (Lyric Hammersmith Theatre); House (Southwark Playhouse); The Life of Olu (Soho Theatre/Theatre Peckham/Golden Goose Theatre); DRUM (Omnibus Theatre); Tales from the Frontline – part 4 (Talawa); Signed, Sealed, Delivered (National Theatre).
As Assistant Director, theatre credits include: The Snail House (Hampstead Theatre); Typical (Soho Theatre); Queens of Sheba (Edinburgh Fringe/New Diorama).
Sidney Poitier Cinema Season
Alongside the world première of Retrograde, a duo of Sidney Poitier’s films will be screened at Kiln Cinema to accompany the production on stage. Ryan Calais Cameron’s new play, set in 1950s Hollywood, is based on a true event in the life of legendary actor. Each screening will be accompanied by a pre-screening Q&A with Kiln Associate Director and director of Retrograde, Amit Sharma.
Discount available for Retrograde ticket holders. Simply log in to your account and the £2 discount per ticket will be applied.
Booking for Retrograde at the same time as booking your screening ticket? Use promocode POITIER2 to save £2 off each screening ticket.
Retrograde is generously supported by Cockayne Grants for the Arts, a donor advised fund held at The London Community Foundation.