The Stories We Tell About Black Lives

Traverse Theatre in partnership with the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh By May Sumbwanyambe

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In this wide-ranging video essay, academic, playwright and screenwriter, May Sumbwanyambe uses his personal experiences to explore the concerning portrayal of Black people in the media.

May draws troubling links between the ways that the lives of Black people are represented in popular western culture in films like The Last King of Scotland, and the ways that young Black Brits are disenfranchised by a broken justice system, misrepresented by media and institutionally discriminated against by the political class, during moments of political and civil unrest.

This film is part of our Happenings series - our response to the times we're in.


Every month we’ll present two companion pieces from artists, academics, cultural leaders, citizens or political representatives reflecting on an urgent societal issue, in their own way. They will aim to provoke and challenge as well as entertain, ultimately asking how we can create a more equitable society that gives a voice and a chance to everyone.

In October, to mark Black History Month, pieces by May Sumbwanyambe and Natasha Thembiso Ruwona explore the representation and misrepresentation of Black people. Alongside these pieces, we’ll be hosting a live response session where you can ask your questions directly to the creators involved.

We welcome you to respond either through commenting on the videos, using the #TravHappenings hashtag on social media, or by joining us for the live direct response session (more details here).

Happenings are presented in partnership with the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh.

The Traverse is funded by Creative Scotland and The City of Edinburgh Council, with additional support from The Scottish Government Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund.

Image: Mihaela Bodlovic

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