The Meaning of Zong

Tuesday 10 May - Saturday 14th May

1783. A new time. Unprecedented ideas, empires and wealth, and it is slavery greases the gears. That night in the storm, I was someone else. It took this story to show me who I truly am.


Two hundred years ago, Olaudah Equiano changed the world. Reading reports of a massacre aboard the slave ship Zong, where 132 enslaved Africans were thrown overboard, he joins forces with anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp to publicly condemn these abhorrent actions, setting in motion events which would go on to galvanise the abolition movement in the UK.

But Olaudah’s impassioned fight for justice goes beyond the courtroom. Having bought his own freedom, he now faces a personal battle to rediscover his past and accept his true self.

Weaving together the many lives affected by these events across the globe, Giles Terera’s boldly inventive debut play The Meaning of Zong is a timely response to the social upheaval the world has witnessed in recent years. Performed by an ensemble cast and punctuated with stirring music, it celebrates the power of individual action to drive huge societal change.

Commissioned by Bristol Old Vic and the National Theatre.

Giles Terera is an acclaimed actor, musician and filmmaker, who starred as Aaron Burr in the UK production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton – The Musical, for which he won the 2018 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
Supported by the Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation

Warning: Contains distressing scenes and historical racial language. Themes of slavery and violence. Some strong language.

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