The Black Jacobins


Written by CLR James
Directed by Yvonne Brewster

21 February to 15 March 1986

The Black Jacobins, written by C L R James in 1967, dramatises the events of the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). 


The Black Jacobins, written by C L R James in 1967, dramatises the events of the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) led by François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture.

"That year [1985], when the abolition of the Greater London Council (GLC) by Margaret Thatcher’s government was a certainty, I received a phone call suggesting I submit, virtually immediately, a fully costed proposal for a theatrical production. I was told that there might be funding available for the staging of something ‘impressive’ from the black community. Having been convinced that this proposal was not a hoax, there was no difficulty identifying the The Black Jacobins: Toussaint Louverture and the San Domingo Revolution as the ultimate choice. 

My preliminary blue-sky budget for this production – which would require a minimum of 23 actors, a first-rate set design, lighting, sound and costume designers, excellent stage managers, innumerable 18th-century military costumes, a full six weeks rehearsal in decent rehearsal rooms and the rental of a splendid venue – topped the £80,000 mark. 

Even today, this is an enormous sum for an independent black production in England: an impossible dream. 

The money was, surprisingly, granted in full with no quibbles. 

Quickly, I had to form a theatre company. With Mona Hammond, Inigo Espegel and Carmen Munroe, 

Talawa Theatre Company was born."

Yvonne Brewster

Find out more about this historic production - click here


Norman Beaton

Jenny Jules

Brian Bovell

Mona Hammond

Jean Hart

Trevor Laird

Doyne Byrd

Dominic Hawksley

Ian Collier

Keith Hazemore

Kwabena Manso

Gary Macdonald

Bob Phillips

Doyle Richmond

Chris Tajah

Nik Abraham

Malcolm Connell

Kathy Daniel

David Haynes

Lenny Edwards

Gideon Rogers

  • Yvonne Brewster

    “I was determined to produce it. After all, this was about the ‘energy of a people trying to be born’, as we as Caribbean citizens abroad appreciate only too well … I wondered about it as a clarion call for people no longer inclined to revolution.”

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