EXCLUSIVE: Kwame Kwei-Armah, the artistic director of London’s Young Vic, is to adapt the story of the Haitian Revolution after Bryncoed Productions optioned C L R James’ The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution.
Kwei-Armah, a playwright, director and actor, who has appeared in shows such as BBC’s Casualty and Skins and voiced Mtambo in The Lorax, is to adapt the book into a ten-part television series.
The book, which was written in 1938 by the Afro-Trinidadian historian, charts the history of the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804. The series will start with the first slave revolt of 1791 and end with the Haitian declaration of independence in 1804, will explore the nature of leadership, its compromises, its glories and the range of personal cost it claims.
It will be produced by Bryncoed, which was launched by Riviera producer Foz Allan. The company has a range projects in development and production, including tween live-action series The Athena for Sky, first revealed by Deadline in July, and a drama based on Ian Samson’s The County Guides To Murder.
Kwei Armah said, “Some books change you; other books change everybody who reads them. The Black Jacobins is one such book. By introducing me to the Haitian Revolution, to a man, to a people and to a time that redefined the way the mighty military nations of Europe saw see themselves in relation to the rest of the world, viscerally tilted my axis and changed the way I see the world we live in today. Bryncoed’s rock-solid production team, experience and expertise put this generation-defining story in the best hands for dramatic interpretation for global audiences.”
Allan added, “C L R James’ unflinching analysis of the Haitian Revolution captures what, in those days, must have been unthinkable — the liberation of the largest slave colony in the Americas and its transformation into a new nation. When I set up Bryncoed, my vision was to produce drama that reminds us of our humanity and shows us that there is more that unites than divides us. The Black Jacobins is exactly that drama.”