Recollections

"My mother [Theresa] is still my role model. When I was growing up, she did three jobs so that she could afford to send her children to fee-paying schools. She was a nurse, a hairdresser and she ran a nursery, and twice a week she worked literally for 24 hours. She wanted to give us the best chance at a good education. That was the reason she came to this country.” He credits her…as being “the principal teacher of my morality and my sense of manhood. She’d say, ‘This is what men do. This is what’s expected of you’.”

In Let There Be Love, Theresa becomes Maria, a young Polish woman who represents the latest wave of immigration from Eastern Europe. “She has my mother’s energy and her trust,” [Kwame] says. “She has come to claim a new slice of land and bring her children up here.” […] “The genesis of this play comes from walking down the street in Southall and hearing Asian men talk about ‘these foreigners,’ the Eastern Europeans, who are ‘taking the jobs of our children.’ I’ve begun to hear the same thing from West Indians, too, and I’m thinking, ‘Huh?’ On the one hand, they’re claiming Britishness, saying, ‘This is our country’, which is a good thing. But on the other, it’s like, ‘How short is your memory?’ I grew up when the streets were cold, when immigrants were beaten and stabbed and stones were thrown. So to talk that way about the new Eastern Europeans just shocked me."

—“London’s New Battleground,” by Alison Roberts, Evening Standard, January 15, 2008.

 

"My parents bought their house on Dane Road, in Southall, west London, in 1968, when I was a year old. My mother lived there until she died a few years ago. My father, who worked locally at the Quaker Oats factory, is still there. It’s a small terraced house, but my parents came from quite humble beginnings in Grenada, in the West Indies, so it was a big deal for them to buy their own home. [...] When I was growing up, nobody under 19 was allowed into the front room of a West Indian home except on special occasions. Ours was a typical one. In fact, the set for...Let There Be Love is almost an exact replica of the room that I grew up with.... It was wallpapered and carpeted in bright Caribbean colors….. My mother held church services there during the week, but on Saturday nights it became my father’s territory. He and all his mates would sit drinking rum and telling stories of home. Then, on Sunday afternoon, it would switch back again and the pastor and church members would be taken into the living room to eat traditional food…. I had a tremendous childhood in this house. There was always something going on and it was always full of people. […] It’s the house where I learnt everything that has made me the person I am today. I even call my plays ‘the theater of my front room’ because that’s where, for me, everything began."

—“Time and Place: Kwame Kwei-Armah” by Hilary Whitney, London Times, July 20, 2008.

 

"I recently began retracing the footsteps of The Queen’s 1953 tour of the Commonwealth for a TV series I’m making. Before it, I knew very little about the Commonwealth, its aims, its needs, even its function, beyond a name. I have returned from that trip changed. Not just in knowledge but in outlook. For I believe the very spirit of this great organisation has somehow touched mine. The spirit that allows small nations to speak to large, Southern Hemisphere to speak with Northern, also enables a British African Caribbean man to speak to you all today
in a forum of equality, respect and, above all, kinship."

—Kwame Kwei-Armah, Personal Statement for Commonwealth Day, 2009.

 

Please view our videos in the sidebar of playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah and director Jeremy B. Cohen discussing Let There Be Love.

 


Watch an Interview

with Playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah and Director Jeremy Cohen.