4th April 1968. Four years after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for his dynamic leadership of The Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Set the night of his shooting in a Tennessee motel room, this new solo play written and performed by Christopher Tajah explores the extraordinary man behind the legend. Dream of a King is in Edinburgh’s theSpace for the month of August, and thus, The Fountain spoke with Christopher about the show and his plans for the Fringe.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
We are thrilled to be bringing Dream of a King to the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. It’s the first play that I’ve written and the first production from my theatre company, Resistance Theatre Company Ltd. So it’s doubly exciting and what makes it even more amazing is that the I’m working with my sister Paulette Tajah, who sings two songs in the show. Paulette is an incredible singer and recording artist in her own right so I’m super-pleased that she is lending her sublime vocals to the production. Even though the play is very much a drama and not a musical there are two songs that root the play to the American civil rights movement.
TF: Dream of a King certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
Based on true events Dream of a King is a solo play and is set the night Martin is assassinated. The premise of the play is simple; In 1968 Martin delivered a prophetic speech that told of his own death. The very next day he was shot and killed. The play explores what may have been on his mind in the hours before his murder, the pressures, fears and frustrations he may have been feeling at the time of his death.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
I was drawn to write this play at this time because of what Martin represents; a great role model who is admired and respected in equal measure. He dedicated his life to fighting for peoples civil rights and equality by standing up for them in the face of racism. These are issues that still need to be fought against today here in Britain, America and around the world.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before?
I have been to the Fringe on many other occasions as an actor with other theatre companies so I know what to expect as regards to performances and the pulsing endless energy of the Fringe itself but this year will be a very different event being a solo actor and Artistic Director. There’s going to be a lot of focus and demand for my time. It’s very exciting and I’m really looking forward to it.
TF: Are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
My advice for artists that are performing at the fringe for the first time would be to pace yourself, plan your days, sleep and eat well.
TF: Is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
Usually, when performing at Edinburgh Fringe it consumes all of your time and energy. When you’re not performing you’re marketing your show or seeing other shows, supporting friends and then there’s socialising of course. So there’s very little time to do other things that aren’t fringe related but I do have things that I plan to do. I like going to Museums so I’ll probably visit the National Museum of Scotland, Museum of Edinburgh, Writer’s Museum and the Scottish National Gallery. Also, if I get a chance I’d like to get out of the City centre and visit Portobello Beach, Craigmillar Castle and Lauriston Castle.
TF: What are your future plans beyond Dream of a King?
We’re looking forward to a fantastic run at the Fringe. We are certainly hoping for the production to have a life after Edinburgh we’ll just have wait to see what happens. As regards future plans beyond Dream of a King, I have three other plays that I am currently writing so maybe I’ll have one of those at next years fringe. It’s too early to tell at the moment but that’s what I’m aiming for.
Christopher Tajah’s new show Dream of a King will be at the TheSpace Triplex from 2nd – 24th August (not 4th or 11th) . For tickets, go to www.edfringe.com