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National Theatre Blog

Five incredible reads on the themes of Rockets and Blue Lights

A group dancing on stage under coloured lights

Winsome Pinnock is an award-winning playwright and dramaturg. Her most recent play Rockets and Blue Lights is currently playing at the National Theatre until 9 October. She has compiled a list of books and plays she recommends if you enjoyed Rockets and Blue Lights.

The Haunted Stage the Theatre as Memory Machine by Marvin Carlson

This book explores the theory of hauntology and describes its dramaturgical relevance to most plays and to theatre spaces. It is particularly useful for thinking about unresolved histories: ghosts return because they need the living to acknowledge and deal with the traumas of the past.

Untold Histories by Kathleen Chater

I first came across the Ball of the Blacks in this book. Amongst other things, the book questions whether or not a black community - one which identified as such - existed in Victorian England.

The Slave Ship by Marcus Rediker

This book offers a detailed account of life aboard the slave ships.

Rough Crossings by Caryl Philips

This play is a clever adaptation of Simon Schama’s historical narrative, Rough Crossings. The adaptation responds to Schama’s history by foregrounding the black protagonists who play minor roles in the original text.

The Ground on Which I Stand by August Wilson

Often cross casting is seen as an indication that ‘black theatre’ has matured to the point of being redundant. Wilson's famous article asserts the importance of the creation of plays by black playwrights whose work is grounded in a specific history which demands to be heard. You can read The Ground on Which I Stand here.

Rockets and Blue Lights is playing until 9 October.