An Echo In the Bone


An Echo In the Bone

Drill Hall Arts Centre, London: 24 June – 19 July 1986

Written by Dennis Scott

Directed by Yvonne Brewster

This production was the UK premiere of Scott's play.


Set in Jamaica in 1837, An Echo In The Bone was a non-naturalistic play written by Dennis Scott which explores the history of Black people and their oppression.

The play starts with a Nine Night ceremony for the disappearance and assumed death of its central yet absent character, Crew, which coincides with the death of a white slavemaster, Maas Charlie. The collective hope is that Crew will return on the ninth night.

In the play, Scott impels his characters to re-enact their history and the role played by slavery; taking them on a slave ship, to an auction, and through a series of flashbacks that awake a long and deep 'echo in the bone'.

In the 1986 production, the Director, Yvonne Brewster, used the Nine Night ritual as a space for individual and collective soul searching, healing and re-contextualising race relations which by the mid-1980’s in the UK and elsewhere were far from comfortable. 

  • Echo in the Bone was Talawa's second production in 1986 and the play's UK premiere.

  • Using stream-of-consciousness, symbolic representation and realism, the production interrogated Black/ white relationships in a context where racism and injustice underpin the cultural and economic exploitation of Black people. These devices enabled links between historical events and subjective fictionalisation to depict the unseen and silenced, just as much as the seen and heard.

    The device of the Nine Night and the journeys it presented, served as a warning to contemporary audiences that their past experiences, present events and future occurrences might not be reversed, but could be understood and overcome by working together.

    At the heart of An Echo In The Bone was Scott’s masterful play on Santayana’s warning that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

  • Caribbean Times (Laurel B. Ince) July 14th 1986

    "This is a masterful production in which direction, stagecraft, and music are skilfully executed ... drama which touches the human soul."

  • The Guardian (Rosalind Carne) July 1st 1986

    " ... the minutiae of domestic relations are never forgotten, even in consideration of the larger issues ... a credible, coherent whole."

  • CAST

    Joanne Campbell - Brigit

    Kwabena Manso - Dreamboat

    Gary McDonald - Jacko

    Faith Tingle - Lally

    Mona Hammond - Madam Love

    Allister Bain - P

    Ellen Thomas - Rachel

    Lenny Algernon Edwards - Rattler

    Leo Wringer - Sonson

    Malcolm Frederick - Stone


    Yvonne Brewster - Director

    Sue D Mayes - Designer

    Richard Moffat - Lighting

    Allister Bain - Choreography

  • About Dennis Scott

    Dennis Scott was a creative Jamaican poet, born in Kingston, Jamaica, on the 16th of December 1939. He died in 1991.

    Dennis Scott wrote in Jamaica’s post-independence period. He had a distinguished career as a poet, playwright, actor (he was Lester Tibideaux in the Cosby Show), as a dancer in the Jamaican National Dance Theatre, as Editor of Caribbean Quarterly and as the Director of the Jamaica School of Drama, and visiting Associate Professor of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. Scott was a polymath.

    His first collection, Uncle Time (1973) was one of the first to establish the serious use of Creole dialects in lyric poetry, winning the Commonwealth Prize for Poetry.

    Scott’s other poetry collections include Dreadwalk (1982) and Strategies (1989). His plays include Terminus, Dog, and An Echo in the Bone and his work is acknowledged as one of the major influences on the direction of theatre in the Caribbean and beyond. 

    Scott died at the early age of fifty-one in 1991.

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