Pigeons and Plantain

by Afia Nkrumah

Afia Nkrumah and Judith Jacob, May 2023

A new commission; writen and directed by Afia Nkrumah.

Pigeons and Plantain reimagines traditional West African myth and culture through the story of a troubled teenager and her extraordinary aunt.

‘powerful and moving performance…sensitive and superb writing and direction from Afia Nkrumah’ (audience feedback)

On Saturday 7 May 2022 Pigeons and Plantain was presented at Bernie Grant Arts Centre as part of the First Sight Festival.

A script-in-hand performance was presented at Watford Museum in October 2021 as part of the Watford Fringe Festival 2021 . Afterwards a Q&A allowed the enthusiastic and passionate audience to explore Black women centred storytelling.

The performer was the brilliant Judith Jacob whose numerous credits include Eastenders, Doctors, Holby City and Captain Philips.

TV and theatre writer and director Afia Nkrumah’s recent credits include Call The Midwife (BBC) and Coronation Street (ITV).

‘an incredible virtuoso performance from Judith Jacob’ (audience feedback)

About Pigeons and Plantain

15 year old girl AMA  has spent her life in foster care and is reputed  to be “the worst trouble maker” in the local authority’s care. Ama is often angry, distrustful of people and prefers to do things in her own way often resulting in frequent eviction from her foster placements. In the last year Ama had moved four times and at her recent placement Ama accidentally set fire to the house when she attempted to make herself a birthday cake for her fifteenth birthday.

Ama’s  social worker Joanne has run out of foster placements on the local authority’s register. Ama is taken to her social worker’s office as Joanna tries to find her another emergency placement. Going back over Ama’s file, Joanne discovers a page that leads to the discovery of Ama’s aunt, who has been searching for her since Ama’s mother’s disappearance. The aunt is contacted and she agrees to take Ama in. 

Ama is placed with her long lost West African aunt Dede in Tottenham.  On arrival, Ama is struck by the plants and vines covering the outside and inside of the house. Dede is very alien to Ama, earthy, unflappable and embarrassingly speaks with an African accent. Ama decides she is not going to stick around whether Dede is family or not. After all, where the hell has she been her whole life? Why didn’t she come forward before? Ama decides to force Dede to get rid of her before the summer holidays are over and she has to start a new school. 

Creative Team

Writer & Director: Afia Nkrumah
Dramaturgy: Rosamunde Hutt
Performer: Judith Jacob