TAMBO & BONES- UK premiere of Dave Harris’ Commended script

The UK premiere of Dave Harris’ Bruntwood Prize Commended TAMBO & BONES, by Stratford East and Actors Touring Company will run from FRI 16 JUN – SAT 15 JUL 2023.

★★★★ “As entertaining as it is unnerving” The Stage
★★★★ “Unique, challenging and oh-so necessary” The Guardian
★★★★ “Like nothing you’ve ever seen” The Telegraph 
★★★★ “This is not your typical play about race” The Times 
★★★★ “Unpredictably bonkers… fasten your seatbelt” Broadway World
★★★★★ “By far the best new American play I have seen for years” LondonTheatre1
★★★★★ “A stellar work of art” All That Dazzles
★★★★★ “Remarkable” North West End



Tambo and Bones are stuck in a minstrel show. It’s hard to know what’s real when you’re stuck in a minstrel show. Their escape plan: get out, get rich, get even.

Join Tambo (Rhashan Stone) and Bones (Daniel Ward) on their journey from comedy double-act, to hip-hop superstars, to activists in an America at the epicentre of the global Black Lives Matter movement.

TAMBO & BONES laughs through our past, blows the roof off our present and imagines an explosive future for our world and for theatre.

‘A racially charged metatheatrical satire and “rags-to-riches hip-hop odyssey” by slam poet turned playwright Dave Harris.’ (Time Out New York, 30 best Off Broadway shows to see in Spring 2022)

Buy ticket here: https://www.stratfordeast.com/whats-on/all-shows/tambo-and-bones


Age Guidance: 14+ 

Relaxed Environment (what’s this?): Sat 01 Jul 2.30pm
BSL Interpreted: Thu 06 Jul, 7.30pm
Captioned: Fri 07 Jul, 7.30pm
Audio Described: Sat 08 Jul, 2.30pm

BLACK OUT performance: Wed 05 Jul, 7.30pm 


As part of the run of the show, Straftford East will be hosting their first ever BLACK OUT performance on Wed 05 Jul at 7.30pm. While this performance has been arranged for Black audience members specifically, no one is excluded from attending.

“A BLACK OUT night is the purposeful creation of an environment in which an all-Black-identifying audience can experience and discuss an event in the performing arts, film, and cultural spaces – free from the white gaze.” blackoutnite.com

Originated by Jeremy O. Harris for his play Slave Play, the very first BLACK OUT night took place on Broadway in 2019. The initiative was brought to London during the run of his show Daddy at the Almeida Theatre as he felt it was important for Black theatregoers to be able to experience sitting in a theatre space where the whole audience looks like them.

Director Matthew Xia said “Over the last few years, a number of playwrights and directors in the US and the UK have created private and safe spaces for Black theatre-goers to experience productions that explore complex, nuanced race-related issues. I felt that with a play like TAMBO & BONES which unpicks the complexity of Black performance in relation to the white gaze, it was imperative that we created such a space.”



Written by Dave Harris
Directed by Matthew Xia

Designed by Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey & ULTZ
Lighting Design by Ciarán Cunningham
Hip-Hop Songs Composed by Excalibah
Sound Design & Additional Composition by Richard Hammarton
Movement Direction by Kloé Dean
Video Design by Gino Ricardo Green
Casting Direction by Julia Horan
Assistant Direction by Danielle Kassarate
Fight Direction by Kevin McCurdy
Costume Supervision by Ysanne Tidd
Dramatherapist Wabriya King
Stage Manager Marie-Angelique St. Hill
Deputy Stage Manager Phyllys Egharevba


Rhashan Stone (Tambo)’s theatre credits include: All About Eve and Cheek By Jowl’s As You Like It (Noel Coward Theatre); Simply Heavenly (Trafalgar Studios); Five Guys Named Moe (Lyric Theatre); Fairview (Young Vic); The Strange Death Of John Doe and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… (Hampstead Theatre); Our Town (Almeida); Love and Information and Clubland (Royal Court); Southwark Fair, The Red Balloon, and Sweeney Todd (National Theatre); Henry VI parts I, II & III, Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, and Camino Real (RSC); Present Laughter and The Tempest (West Yorkshire Playhouse); As You Like It (Cheek By Jowl World Tour).

Television includes: All The Light We Cannot See, Hollington Drive, Baptiste, The Trick, Finding Alice, Keeping Faith, Delicious, Black Mirror, Macdonald & Dodds, Carters Get Rich, Apple Tree Yard, The A Word, Ballot Monkeys, Bluestone 42, The Smoke, Silk, Strike Back, Episodes, Outnumbered, City Hall, Taking The Flak, Love Soup, Bike Squad, The Crouches, Bodies, Mutual Friends, Desmonds.

Film includes: Alone Time, Eve, To Provide All People, Three And Out, Perfect Day, Wondrous Oblivion.


Daniel Ward (Bones) is a versatile actor-writer. His debut play The Canary and the Crow, which he both wrote and starred in, opened to a critically acclaimed run at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival before embarking on a UK tour and winning the 2020 George Devine Award.

Recent screen credits include: Mood (BBC); This Is Going To Hurt (BBC); A Bird Flew In (Goldfinch Entertainment).

Recent theatre credits include: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester); Rebellion and War Of The Roses (RSC); The First (VAULT Festival); The Amen Corner (National Theatre).


Dave Harris (Writer) is a poet and playwright from West Philly. Selected plays include Tambo & Bones (Playwrights Horizons, Center Theatre Group, 2022);  Exception to the Rule (Roundabout Theatre Company, 2022); Incendiary (Woolly Mammoth 2023) and Everybody Black (Humana Festival, 2019). His first feature film, Summertime premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Dave is currently writing the feature adaptation of The Fortress of Solitude for Amazon, and an original television project at FX, ABC Studios and Goddard Textiles. Selected honours include the Ollie Award, The Lorraine Hansberry Award and Mark Twain Award from The Kennedy Center, The International Commendation for The Bruntwood Prize and a Cave Canem poetry fellowship, amongst others.  


Matthew Xia (Director) is the award-winning Artistic Director of ATC (Actors Touring Company). He was previously Associate Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; Director-in-Residence at The Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse; and Associate Director at Theatre Royal Stratford East (where he started in the youth theatre in 1993!).

Matthew has directed some of the UK’s most talented actors, including Daniel Kaluuya, Cynthia Erivo, Maxine Peake, David Haig, Samuel Barnett, Malachi Kirby, David Moorst, Erin Doherty and Joseph Quinn.

Directing includes: the Olivier Award-winning Hey Duggee – The Live Theatre Show (Kenny Wax Family Entertainment / Cuffe & Taylor); the Fringe First award-winning Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen (FMP / Roundabout); RICE (ATC / Orange Tree); The Wiz (Ameena Hamid Productions / Hope Mill / BBC Big Night of Musicals); Family Tree (GDIF / ATC / Belgrade / Brixton House); 846 Live (Theatre Royal Stratford East / GDIF); Amsterdam (ATC / Orange Tree / Plymouth Theatre Royal); Blood Knot (Orange Tree); Eden (Hampstead Theatre); One Night In Miami… (Nottingham Playhouse / Bristol Old Vic / HOME); Into The Woods and Frankenstein (Royal Exchange Theatre); Wish List (Royal Exchange Theatre / Royal Court); Shebeen (Nottingham Playhouse / Theatre Royal Stratford East); Sleeping Beauty (Theatre Royal Stratford East); Dublin Carol (Sherman Theatre); Blue/Orange and The Sound Of Yellow (Young Vic); Sizwe Banzi Is Dead (Genesis Future Director Award Winner – Young Vic / Eclipse); The Blacks (Co-Director, Theatre Royal Stratford East); I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw The Sky (Co-Director, Theatre Royal Stratford East / The Barbican); Suckerpunch Boom Suite (The Barbican / NitroBEAT).

As DJ Excalibah, Matthew became the first DJ to join BBC 1Xtra with his hip-hop show – aged only 19. He has played most major festivals and clubs in the UK and Europe including Glastonbury, Ministry of Sound and Fabric. Excalibah performed for a global audience of over 1 billion as a headline DJ at the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony.


Published on:
26 Jun 2023


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