Producers: Rikseatern, Sweden and Unity Theatre
“Josette Bushell-Mingo blows the roof off with this searing look at the life of Nina Simone” — Caroline McGinn (Time Out)
Project Weblink: www.ninatour.co.uk
I worked on Nina – a story about me and Nina Simone from its first R&D through to its UK tour. To date the show has played nearly 100 performances, nearly always sold out-
October 2016 Liverpool, UK (world premiere)
November 2016- March 2017 – Sweden
July 2017 – Young Vic (London)
August 2017 – Traverse (Edinburgh)
December- January 2018 (Stadsteatern, Stockholm, Sweden)
January-March 2018 UK tour visiting Salford, Exeter, Leicester, Keswick, Birmingham, Hull and Liverpool
‘A searing tribute restarts Simone’s revolution’ The Guardian
‘Josette Bushell Mingo blows the roof off with this searing look at the life of Nina Simone’ Time Out London
★★★★★ The Scotsman
★★★★★ Broadway Baby
★★★★ The Times
★★★★ The Stage
★★★★ The Guardian
★★★★ Time Out London
Key Dates: Nina will be touring again in Autumn. Dates to be announced soon
More info:This was my piece for the UK tour programme about the development of Nina:
Unity Theatre – Liverpool’s small scale theatre with big ambitions – was a huge part of Josette Bushell Mingo’s early career, and in so many ways, creating Nina has been a kind of homecoming for all of us.
Perhaps more importantly though, it has been a natural partnership between kindred spirits. Unity has a long history of making political theatre and of exploring uncomfortable and dangerous subjects. In Nina we were able to combine this heritage with the incredible virtuosity, passion and anger of a performer, director and theatre maker of international acclaim.
Add into this mix a collaboration with Josette’s theatrical home Riksteatern (the National Touring Theatre of Sweden). As our co-producers on this journey they have ensured the project began with a potent and transnational energy. Then came our inimitable creative team: Director Dritero Kasapi, Designer Rosa Maggiora, Musical Director Shapor Bastansiar and the dynamic duo of Lighting Designer Matt Haskins and Lighting Associate Julie Kearney. Ours is a truly international collaboration with creatives from London, Liverpool, Sweden, Macedonia, the USA and Iran coming together to speak about something that rings true with all of them.
The show – part theatre, part concert, part gospel and part spoken word – quickly began to take shape. It was crafted in rehearsal rooms in Liverpool and Stockholm, but also frequently across Skype, time zones and language barriers. The weight of history, and each day’s news urged us on, pushing us across the boundaries that might otherwise have held us back.
Our initial ambition was for Nina to play in Liverpool, and then to tour 30 dates across Sweden – but the show itself had other ideas. In the summer of 2017 we visited the Young Vic (with the run selling out in less than 24 hours), transferred to the Traverse Theatre for another sell out run as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and by Christmas 17 we were back in Sweden, selling out at Stadsteatern, the National Theatre of Sweden.
In 2018 thanks to the support of the Arts Council England (and every National Lottery ticket buyer), Nina is back on tour, visiting Salford, Exeter, Leicester, Ipswich, Cardiff, Keswick, Birmingham and Hull, before finally returning to Liverpool where the journey all began.
Nearly two years on, the questions the show asks are still as vital, difficult and as urgent as when we first gathered in Liverpool – perhaps even more so now. In that empty room in May 2015 we knew we wanted this to make a difference, to ask difficult questions and to ask – how far have we really come?
Throughout it all, Nina Simone has been our guide, mentor and muse – as Josette says her ‘GPS’.