In The Studio: David Simon meets Kwame Kwei-Armah

BBC World Service

Kwame Kwei-Armah is an award-winning playwright, actor, and for the last six years artistic director of Baltimore’s Center Stage Theater.

During the frantic second week of rehearsals, Kwame talks to fellow Baltimorean David Simon (American TV producer, writer, journalist, and creator of The Wire and Treme) about directing the world premiere of ‘Jazz’, an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s 1992 novel, a twisted love triangle set in 1920s Harlem. We eavesdrop on rehearsals, meetings, props workshop and set builders who must bring Kwame’s vision to life and evoke the musical world of Toni Morrison’s book.

Kwame and David also discuss the energy and terror of being at the helm of an artistic institution in Baltimore. This is a city with a long history of racial tension, but hit global headlines in April 2015 when the death of Freddie Gray sparked mass protests and civil uprisings. Kwame believes his artistic mission is to sometimes gently lead the Baltimore community, sometimes gently poke it, and use metaphor to talk to the here and now.

Produced by Victoria Ferran

Broadcast: 20th June 2017