PLAY: Othello

The original race play and still the best. The recent National Theatre production was bracingly modern and reconfirmed that suspicion and resentment of a black man in a role of power – and with a white wife – is not just something from a history lesson. It’s uncomfortable realities like this that I poke a stick at in Adult Supervision, though of course I’m looking at things through a comic lens.

BOOK: Hate by Matthew Collins

A very different source of unpalatable truths about race. Collins, now a vigorous anti-racist campaigner alongside the likes of Billy Bragg, writes with often sickening honesty about how he got drawn in to the British far right, about where his hatred came from, and about how he woke up and switched sides. This book was invaluable for me in developing the off-stage BNP character in Adult Supervision.

FILM: Good Hair

This documentary is comedian Chris Rock’s entertaining, shocking and eye-opening venture into the world of black women’s hair – often a mystery to the white community and even to black men like Rock. Hair is central to my play, as the white mothers get to grips not just with the complex care of their black and mixed-race children’s hair, but with the political significance of what they do or don’t do with what’s growing out of their kids’ heads.

MUSIC: ‘Yes We Can’ by will.i.am

This track – a musical interpretation of Obama’s 2008 concession speech in one of the primaries prior to his victory later the same year – features in Adult Supervision so I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. Listening to it and watching the video five years after its release generates the inevitable pang of disappointment that comes from Obama’s encounter with the dirty realities of leadership, but I’m also enough of a dreamer to think that the hope for change that the song celebrates is not, as the lyrics go, false hope.

Sarah Rutherford read English at Merton College between 1989 and 1992 before going off to work as a broadcaster and arts journalist. Rutherford is now a playwright. 

Rutherford’s comedy drama, Adult Supervision, runs until 3 November at Park
Theatre, London and is a personal look at the realities of a mixed-race identity.