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Stratford fishmonger’s story of civil rights leader’s last moments to hit West End stage

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 December 2019

Christopher Tajah, writer and lead in Dream of a King, works as a fishmonger three days a week. He's been at the Stratford Morrisons for at least 12 years working his trade. Picture: Christopher Tajah.

Christopher Tajah, writer and lead in Dream of a King, works as a fishmonger three days a week. He's been at the Stratford Morrisons for at least 12 years working his trade. Picture: Christopher Tajah.

Christopher Tajah

A fishmonger is taking his one-man play about Martin Luther King Jr. to the West End.

Dream of a King. Picture: Remy Hunter/Christopher Tajah.Dream of a King. Picture: Remy Hunter/Christopher Tajah.

By day, Christopher Tajah can be found singing away while filleting fish for customers at Morrisons supermarket in The Grove, Park Avenue, Stratford.

But come the New Year the 44-year old actor and playwright will become his hero, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., with appearances on stage at The Actors Centre in Seven Dials as well as The Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham.

Christopher, explaining his inspiration, said: "King has always been a fantastic hero of mine. With the rise of Donald Trump, Brexit and the far right, it just seems there is a community breakdown at the moment.

"It almost feels like we are regressing back to a time of intolerance and racism. I wanted to write something in response with a social conscience. What a role model - to give your life to make other people's lives better."

Dream of a King recreates the last moments of the minister's life, inviting the audience to imagine knocking on the door of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, the day he was shot dead.

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"What kind of a man would you have met that night?" Christopher asked.

Based on his own research, Christopher's play explores why King was reluctant to make what would become his last speech, I've Been to the Mountain Top, that day.

"He was reluctant but he goes and makes that speech. Within hours he's dead. He has a premonition he would die. I take the audience on a journey to try to uncover who Martin Luther King was on April 4, 1968.

"Was it the same person who started the [civil rights organisation] Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1955?" Christopher asked.

"I hope I uncover something refreshing and empowering about a great man. A man of honour, integrity, intellect and determination," he added.

The play's London run comes after Christopher - who trained at Rose Bruford Drama School - took the 45-minute long piece to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

Christopher, from Leytonstone, said about its success: "It's amazing to see how it's been received. It's really fantastic."

For tickets visit breadandrosestheatre.co.uk or actorscentre.co.uk


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