Patterson Joseph
Paterson Joseph with an engraving from “Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho”, printed by J. Nichols, London in 1782, courtesy of the University of North Carolina. Picture: Robert Day.

Sancho: An Act of Remembrance

Birmingham Rep Studio

*****

PATERSON Joseph is a highly commendable and well known actor. He is also an extremely analytical scholar with a thirst for knowledge and a need to search for his identity.

As a black Briton, Joseph shares with us his remarkable interest in looking back further into the history of black people in Britain.

Sancho: An Act of Remembrance is Joseph’s wondrous account of his search into his past, dispelling the myth that the history of British Black people began on the 1948 Windrush.

Sancho is Joseph’s personal account of his own research into the history of being British and Black. He is the writer, director and performer of the play. He is inspired by the life of Charles Ignatius Sancho, a working class Briton of the 18th century, leading a life of frolics and education, friendly with David Garrick and other influential people.

It is through Sancho’s life that Joseph was inspired to sanchocreate his play. With this, he lets the audience see that the black prescence in 18th Century Britain was not entirely to do with slavery. They were established, educated and working class people and Joseph shows the importance behind this lesser-known history of culture.

Joseph first enters the stage as himself the actor and introduces himself to us. This comes across as a somewhat unusual introduction, as we expect a performance of character. Joseph however is incredibly passionate about why he created this performance, so he explains to us in excited terms about his journey in discovering his past as a Black Briton.

He allows his intricate research and joyful imagination become one within his highly researched production. In his insightful and charming one man show, he characterises the facts known about Sancho and breathes new life into historical texts in the most interactive of ways.

Taking inspiration from the only portrait known of Sancho and Gretchen Gerzina’s historical book Black England, Joseph takes us on a highly entertaining exploration of history and character and allows us to look at black people of the 18th century as characters with life and stories.

Joseph has a flair for storytelling and characterisation. The performance is fuelled with research into the life and times of not only Sancho, but accounts of all those around him, his spouse who he met at an organised dance for black people, his family, those he worked for and of course David Garrick.

Joseph gives a well sourced characterisation of Sancho and builds a vivid and intriguing account of his personal life. Through Joseph’s powerful imagination, we are exposed to a journey of uplifting spirit, from Sancho’s privileged, but somewhat harsh childhood, to being the first black man to gain the right to vote in Britain.

Joseph’s language within the performance is rhythmic and enticing. It is a true account to the time and there is a flamboyance and energetic approach which make us laugh throughout. His cheeky and clever references to Shakespeare constantly remind us of Sancho’s essence of character.

The language is poetic and upbeat and paints a detailed picture of Sancho’s life. With every element, from the clothes he wore, the places he went and even a speech impediment, connecting us to the past it is easy to see why Joseph’s account touches us so deeply.

 Joseph’s infectious joviality is enlightening and is an uplifting account of black British history. The performance is fun as much as it is incredibly informative. Joseph has created a unique account of someone etched in the history books and gave them new life. It is a universal Who Do You Think You Are, exploring a piece of history that is rarely examined, with a personal touch and analytical feel, Joseph is personal, fun and creates an endearing account of his own past. To 25-09-15.

Elizabeth Halpin

23-09-15 

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