TBB Talks … Blues For An Alabama Sky with Sule Rimi

Sule Rimi is an actor who has extensive credits on stage and on screen …

Sule recently played Turnbo in Tinuke Craig’s critically acclaimed production of August Wilson’s Jitney at The Old Vic which also received a national tour. Other recent theatre acting credits include those for Nadia Fall’s production of Three Sisters in 2019), Donmar Warehouse (in Josie Rourke’s Measure for Measure and Lynette Linton’s Sweat, which also transferred to the West End, in 2018/19), the Old Vic (in Rachel Chavkin’s production of The American Clock and All My Sons, with many more under his belt.

Sule will now star in the National Theatre’s Blues for an Alabama Sky directed by Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre, Lynette Linton. Blues for an Alabama Sky is set in 1930, a year into the Depression and during the Harlem Renaissance, and follows four friends whose lives, passions and politics collide when a stranger from Alabama arrives. The play is written by African-American playwright Pearl Cleage and the cast includes Samira Wiley, making her UK stage debut, alongside Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Osy Ikhile and Giles Terera.

We caught up with Sule ahead of Blues for an Alabama Sky’s run…

Introduce yourself …

My name is Sule.

Please share a word or sentence which best describes your life right now.

Living the dream“.

Blues for an Alabama Sky features some of your former collaborators – you worked with director Lynette Linton, Hazel Holder (dialect coach), Osy Ikhile on Sweat, as well as Ronke in Three Sisters. What has it been like collaborating with these creatives again?

Like I said am living the dream. Working in such a competitive industry is kind of a privilege but when you get to work with people that you know, admire, respect and love on a regular basis is beyond a bonus. Super excited to be sharing a stage with King Giles for the first time (which we’ve been trying to make happen for a few years now) and Samira is the icing on this incredibly rich and layered cake.

Giles Terera (Guy) and Samira Wiley (Angel) in rehearsal for Blues for an Alabama Sky at the National Theatre – Image Credit: Marc Brenner

The show is set during the Harlem Renaissance, a time often looked at as a time of great cultural revival and expression within the Black community and there has been a lot of discussion recently on how Black British theatre is going through a renaissance in itself. How does it feel being a Black actor at this moment?

I’ve seen some incredible black plays this year. Red Pitch, For Black Boys, House of Ife to name but a few. It’s satisfying to see our stories being told with regularity and on the biggest stages whether it be locally or regionally.

You play Sam in Blues for an Alabama Sky. Tell us more about your character.

He’s a doctor that burns the candle at both ends. If he’s not delivering babies at Harlem hospital he’s either at Guy’s and Angel’s or with them partying it up on the relentless Harlem party scene. He plays as hard as he works and he’s very good at both.

Lynette Linton (Director) in rehearsal for Blues for an Alabama Sky at the National Theatre. Image Credit: Marc Brenner

You were recently in Jitney at The Old Vic, another play by an African American playwright, what do you think British audiences can take away from Blues for an Alabama Sky?

So much but mainly I think people will be inspired to pursue their dreams (especially when they seem least likely to be fulfilled) and grab the opportunity to realise them when they can because once you do you never know how long it will last or if it will ever be possible to achieve again.

When taking on a project, what do you look for as an actor? What immediately draws you to a text?

As an actor, I look for a challenge. Something out of my comfort zone. Otherwise I just get the feeling that I’m on stage playing myself. That’s how I learn my trade.

  • A book you have to have in your collection? To Kill A Mocking Bird
  • A film / TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly? The Soprano’s
  • The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you (play, dance or concert)? Hamlet (meant I got a day off school)
  • What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week? The Queen’s funeral, Energy prices, Tech (not necessarily in that order).

Blues for an Alabama Sky @National Theatre From 21 September to 5 November book tickets here.


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