Newham fishmonger brings tales of black history to the stage

Christopher Tajah

Actor and fishmonger Christopher Tajah - Credit: Remy Hunter Photography

“It’s empowering because everyone is looking at you, and really as a performer, you’re a good show off.”

That's what Christopher Tajah told this newspaper about his upcoming performance at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. 

The Newham fishmonger and actor has written a series of four solo plays chronicling historic moments in black history, including Black Lives Matter and the American Civil Rights Movement. 

“It’s a part of history; whether it’s African American or Black British history, it’s part of the African diaspora, so it’s a part of our story," he said. "I think it’s important to understand the world that we’re a part of."

In addition to the Fringe, Christopher will also be performing at the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York this October.

“It’s a real compliment because they show wonderful pieces of work from all over the world, and I’m one of the chosen few that are going to be part of that festival,” Christopher said.

The four plays are titled Under Heaven’s Eyes, Shadow Under a Setting Sun, Dream of a King and Admiral of the Windrush.

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Under Heaven’s Eyes is the story of a black man trying to come to terms with the world around him as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum. 

Meanwhile, the second play - Shadow Under a Setting Sun - follows Coretta Scott King after the assassination of her husband, Martin Luther King. It links into the third, which delves into King’s thoughts on his past achievements moments before he is killed.

Finally, Admiral of the Windrush tells of a man’s journey to figure out who he is as a member of the Windrush Generation.

Christopher said he relies on self-funding to put on his shows and works part-time as a fishmonger at Morrison’s in Newham.

He said he hopes exposure from the upcoming festivals will boost support for his work.

“I love getting the story out, and I love to perform. But more importantly, I want to know about interesting stories - the people that were here before me, the people that will be here after me, and to understand the whole picture.”

Christopher also hopes his plays can teach those unfamiliar with black history.

“I hope they find food for thought,” the actor said. 

Christopher will be at the Fringe's TheSpace Triplex from August 5 to 27.

Support his work at https://greenlit.com/project/under-heavens-eyes