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Stratford fishmonger getting off-Broadway acclaim with MLK biopic

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 March 2019

Dream of a King. Picture: Remy Hunter.

Dream of a King. Picture: Remy Hunter.

Remy Hunter

Working by day as a fishmonger in Stratford, Christopher Tajah is getting critical recognition for his depiction of Dr Martin Luther King's final minutes.

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.

Dream of a King, written by and starring Mr Tajah, has already had two short runs and is about to start a third at the Waterloo East Theatre.

Mr Tajah has already received some acclaim for his work. He’s been nominated for best male performance in a play in the Offies—awards celebrating off-Broadway theatre.

“I just wanted to write something that was uplifting and Dr Martin Luther King is a great hero of mine,” he said.

The play comes after he wrote for a more collaborative project that fell apart. Following the experience, he decided to do a show that he knew he could follow-through on.

Dream of a King. Picture: Remy Hunter.Dream of a King. Picture: Remy Hunter.

“I started work on this project and I thought: ‘All this work’s gone into this project and these actors have gone their separate ways. The next thing I’m going to do is write a one-man thing and then I know I’m in control of it.’

No-one at Morrison’s knows that he is a performer aside from the singing he sometimes brings to the fish counter.

The process began with a years-long period of research (he says it began at least five years ago, though he can’t be sure).

It took him three months to finish the play after he decided he’d done enough reading.

Dream of a King. Picture: Remy Hunter.Dream of a King. Picture: Remy Hunter.

“Though I respect Dr King—I think he’s a great icon—I didn’t want to look at him and just say: ‘Wow.’ I wanted to find out what the man was all about.

Christopher Tajah has been working as a fishmonger since he left school and has been at Stratford Morrison’s specifically for at least the last 12 years (he has trouble pinning down a number).

A list of his professional roles includes an appearance on Doctors.

Balancing work that pays and work that he loves—like any actor who hasn’t yet hit mainstream success—has been tight for him.

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

“You live for the next role. You pour your heart and soul into the role and you put it out there and you see what happens.

“You do these projects and you hope that something happens with them. But if they don’t, then you just enjoy the creative process.”

Christopher Tajah is also working with his sister, Paulette, on Dream of a King. She sings and provides a chorus-like role. It’s directed by Bernie C Burns.

Dream of a King’s next run is at the Waterloo East Theatre in Lambeth for two days on March 19 and 20.

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