The Keskidee centre on radio 4

If you haven’t already listened you have 24 hours left to catch this fascinating programme on Radio 4 about the Keskidee centre, Britain’s first black arts centre. The programme is based on oral history interviews conducted by Alan Dein as part of the King’s Cross Voices project. I have been told anecdotally a number of times that despite its importance the records of the Keskidee centre were seen at the time of being of no interest to mainstream repositories and were destroyed. Indeed, the programme documents how the building’s current tenants had no idea of the building’s former use, although they had found various bits and pieces left lying around – books, records, props – all of which presumably was thrown in a skip. And certainly, what struck me about the programme was the total lack of archive material; no archive sound recordings and no suggestion that Dein had been able to access any sort of records. There’s no documentation either on the Internet, although it looks to me that if you have 1.8 million pounds to spare you  might just be able to buy it. Meanwhile, you can still watch Bob Marley perform ‘Is this love’ outside the centre, perhaps the only remaining document that bears witness to the centre’s former life.

Catch the programme while you can!

Mary

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3 Responses to “The Keskidee centre on radio 4”

  1. Andre Green Says:

    I was a featured actor in two plays which were performed at the Keskidee with Rufus Collins, Director.The two plays were “Eden,” by Samm Art-Williams, the cast was myself, Andre Green, Yvonne Gidden, Millie Kiarie, Isabel Lucas, T-Bone Wilson, Imuru Caesar, and David Haynes. Oscar Abrams, was the Executive Director, of the Keskidee Arts Center. I also was featured in a two character play called “Running Fast Thru Paradise” by Calua Dundy, which I performed opposite, Stacy Hughes. These productions were performed in January, 1978, and February, 1978, respectively. Mr. Collins directed both. The KAC was a vibrant and positive force for black artists and stage for its talent. The community of Islington supported us tremendously. Our audience were multi-racial and we attracted the West End theatre audience. I am very proud of my part and I know all of us understood we had an opportunity to express the lives of our people; their pain, joy, and ambitions. I am saddened the Keskidee Arts Centre is gone but it will never be forgotten. My close friend, Roger Guenveur Smith, portrayed Frederick Douglass on the KAC stage and also did lighting direction. Mr. Smith has performed in many of Spike Lee’s movies, and in “American Gangster” with Denzel Washington. Please contact me if you need any furhter information. It was unfortunate Black History month has passed here in the United States but our history knows no boundaries. I send my love to my brother and sisters who were part of the Keskidee experience. Always,

    Andre Green Sr.

    • Duly Noted Says:

      Hi Andre. Well said. May i add that you were brilliant in both productions. I too am proud of our collective work at the Keskidee Centre. Respect, Ron Critchlow

  2. Martha Sea Says:

    Keskidee Center was the place where I came in April of 1973 along with a colleague. Our universities sent us to work on a project of our choosing. I chose Black theatre. At the time, Keskidee Center and Dark and Light Theatre were the only 2 places that I found any information on as possible places to study. I wrote to Mr. Cousins at Dark and Light Theatre and to Oscar Abrams, inquiring if they would mentor me. I received a warm welcoming response from Oscar Abrams. We spent 4 months in England at the Keskidee Center. Perhaps I have some archives. I will look.

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