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Theatre503 presents


Written by Pravin Wilkins
Directed by Nancy Medina
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***PLEASE NOTE: Performances from Friday 11th – Saturday 19th March have been cancelled due to cast members isolating with covid-19. We will be in touch with all ticket holders who were booked in for these performances regarding refunds/ticket swaps. We will be moving the 16 March Parent and Baby Matinee to the following Thursday 24 at 12noon***

August, 2016. The NFL is being shaken by Colin Kaepernick’s monumental decision. Whilst other players join him in taking the knee, star running back Luis Moreno is all about his game – and his pay check. A record-breaking season is in sight – but America’s leadership is changing. When a destructive new reality hits close to home, Luis is forced to ask whether politics have a place on the field, and if he is willing to risk his career to take a stand for his own community. But does, and should, this movement hold a place for them?

Pravin Wilkins stunning debut play was the winner of the 2020 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award. It was chosen out of 1,719 scripts send in from 45 countries by a group of independent readers, the 503 team and a panel comprising Erica Whyman (Chair of Theatre503 and deputy artistic director, RSC), producer Caro Newling, actor/director Daniel Evans, arts journalist and reviewer Sam Marlowe, playwrights Roy Williams and Vinay Patel, and Theatre503 artistic director Lisa Spirling.

CONTENT INFORMATION: The play explores topics of race, power and violence. There is inflammatory language and references to hate crime, grief, drugs and derogatory slurs. Please see our care pack for further information and resources, including a synopsis highlighting where this content appears in the play.

Saturday matinee performances are Pay What You Choose, and there are five £5 tickets on offer for every show after Previews.


1 March 7.30pm WRITERS NIGHT: A chance for writers to enjoy a discounted ticket and meet our literary department and the writer of the show. Attendees to Writers Night are invited to submit for our Rapid Write Response initiative. To unlock the £5 tickets, please email boxoffice@theatre503 asking to be digitally tagged as a writer. If you are unable to attend our Writers Night, the £5 tickets will also be available for the remainder of the preview performances. There will also be a Zoom session with Pravin Wilkins, writer of the play on 28th February at 7pm. Please sign up here.

16 March 12pm PARENT & BABY: Similar to our Relaxed Performance in terms of technical alterations, but provided as an opportunity for parents and/or guardians to enjoy a spot of theatre without the need to hire a babysitter. Please note, we do not exclude other audience members from booking to see this performance.

The running time is approximately 2 hours, with a 15 minute interval.

Please note this production involves the use of flashing lights and smoking.

Pravin Wilkins

Pravin Wilkins is a playwright, poet, and fiction writer from San Diego, California, whose works typically deal with race and class struggle - and the many intersections between. He began writing plays during his undergraduate education at UC San Diego, where he was presented the faculty-nominated Eric Bowling Award for his site-specific protest piece #takebackgraffitihall. A couple years later, while pursuing his MFA in Dramatic Writing at Carnegie Mellon University, his play Moreno was selected as a finalist for the 2020 National Playwrights’ Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center-- subsequently, Moreno was featured in Kane Repertory Theater's New Play Lab reading series. After earning his MFA, Pravin was chosen as a Fall 2020 Writer-in-Residence at City Books in Pittsburgh, where he is continuing his work as a writer, educator, and activist. His plays and poems have since been featured and digitally produced by The Dramatic Question Theater (The Hamlet Monologues, 2021) and Four Walls Theater (Bars, 2020; Reclamation, 2021).


Artistic Team
Pravin Wilkins
Nancy Medina
Movement Director
Ingrid Mackinnon
Aldo Vazquez
Lighting Designer
Laura Howard
Sound Designer
Duramaney Kamara
Casting Director
Isabella Odoffin
Fight Director
Kev McCurdy
Costume Supervisor
Malena Arcucci
Voice and Dialect Coach
Esi Acquaah-Harrison
Football Coach
Oscar Russell
Samantha Adams
Assistant Director
Tian Brown-Sampson
Production Manager
Tabitha Piggott
Stage Manager
Rhea Jacques
Assistant Stage Manager
Fríða Frosta - Supported by Bristol School of Acting
Ceri Lothian
Assistant Producer
Myles Sinclair
Luis Moreno
Sebastián Capitán Viveros
Ezekiel Williams
Joseph Black
Cre’von Garcon
Hayden Mclean
Danny Lombardo
Matt Whitchurch
The Stage - MORENO Review **** "signficant and superbly performed"
Posted on 10 March 2022

Accomplished, superbly performed debut play about sport and race

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit out and then take the knee during the national anthem of an NFL game created societal wedges and earned the disapproval of soon-to-be president Donald Trump. This history defining moment is the inspiration behind Pravin Wilkins’ accomplished debut Moreno (the 2020 winner of the Theatre503 International Playwriting Award) and it holds contemporary resonance even across the pond.

Set in and around an NFL stadium (Aldo Vazquez’s neat set design acts as changing room, side line and pitch), Wilkins sets up a classic locker-room rapport between four players driven by competitiveness, ego and a collective desire to win. We are privy to their testosterone fuelled pre-game rituals, but when Zeki (Joseph Black), a Kaepernick-inspired whistleblower, chooses to protest, their ‘bromance’ is derailed.

Wilkins’ play comments on the intersection of sport and racial politics – revealing the layered power structures at play in the industry. Zeki likens the trading of black players by white club owners to slavery while Lombardo, the white quarterback driven by his love for winning, claims the field should be a neutral zone free from ‘wokeness’. A racial attack on Moreno’s mother provides impetus for a more nuanced discourse on activism on the pitch in the context of power and fame.

The writing is witty and brought to life by exceptional performances from the cast members who understand the depth of Wilkins’ characters. Matt Whitchurch is rambunctious and slightly threatening as Lombardo while Joseph Black commands the stage as the authoritative Zeki. Sebastián Capitán Viveros adopts a likeable swagger in the titular role while Hayden McLean provides light relief as Cre’Von, the happy-go-lucky cornerback.

Nancy Medina’s sensitive direction charters their relationships rhythmically. The staging is clean and controlled to not draw focus from the meaningful intertwining of character arcs. The play is as much about politics as it is about the macro impacts on the players’ personal lives of their micro actions on the pitch. Conversational scenes are balanced with bursts of Ingrid Mackinnon’s vigorous choreography to thumping beats. It is undeniably thrilling to watch burly bodies as they jump, dart and grind across Theatre503’s tiny stage.

Duramaney Kamara and Laura Howard’s design creates the depths and corners of the pitch. Malena Arcucci’s costumes are detailed: the foursome wrestle with their cumbersome shoulder pads, much as how they wrestle with their own politics.

Moreno’s concluding scene may not be the final touchdown audiences are expecting but it leaves room for the crackle of hope for new beginnings, while the real power lies in the show’s thoughtful curtain call.

Read the full article

Evening Standard - Moreno review: NFL play about taking the knee makes for a sparky debut
Posted on 9 March 2022

Pravin Wilkins’s first full-length play explores the drama around one teammate taking the knee.

ow will a highly-paid, Mexican-American NFL player react when his black teammate takes the knee? That’s the premise of US newcomer Pravin Wilkins’s first full-length play, which is hugely entertaining and politically sparky, if sometimes cumbersome in its plotting.

It also has novelty. Sport rarely gets a run-out in London theatre: the macho melodramatics of American football even less often. You can almost smell the testosterone in Nancy Medina’s production, which conjures the heady, crotch-grabbing, often adversarial swagger of the locker room with just four talented actors, some stylised action and a thumping soundtrack.

Indeed, it’s curious that this play has landed in London so soon after Red Pitch and Fair Play at the Bush, which similarly distilled the kinetic energy of estate soccer and athletics. Maybe theatre has got over the idea of sport as a fitter, richer rival, and realised its dramatic potential.

Anyway, Luis Moreno (a charismatic Sebastián Capitán Viveros) is a high-rolling hotshot, signed to an eye-catching new contract after a potentially career-ending injury. His new, deliberately un-named team is represented by bullish white quarterback Danny and two black defenders: easygoing Cre’von and stern, thoughtful Ezekiel. When Trump becomes president, racists are emboldened and symbolic protest sweeps through their sport, the uneasy truce they hold between individualism and teamwork begins to fracture.

Wilkins has interesting things to say about how economics and ethnicity play into ideas of validation. But there’s too much yik-yak explanation in the first half, and it feels like ‘issues’ have been apportioned like numbered jerseys. Ezekiel lives in the shadow of activist parents; Danny has a gay brother; Moreno is triggered into taking a side when his own mum is threatened.

Once that happens, though, the ideas become more subtle and provoking. Will Moreno’s participation accelerate or hijack the protest? What constitutes a victory? And how, as Ezekiel says, do they get the “mythical conscientious white folks” on side?

Although the story hits many obvious marks, the action is thrillingly pacy and the relationships well drawn, particularly Moreno’s bromance with Hayden McLean’s likeable Cre’von and his struggle to understand Joseph Black’s forceful Ezekiel.

Viveros, who made a quietly confident London stage debut in Lynn Nottage’s Evening Standard award-winning play Sweat in 2019, is almost unrecognisable here as the cocksure but fretful Moreno. Matt Whitchurch gives an energetic performance as Danny but, for once, the white guy has the least important voice on stage.

Despite its mechanically engineered narrative, this is an arresting debut, full of brio and confident dialogue. Ezekiel constantly drops references that Moreno doesn’t get, and this gains an extra level of knowing audacity in Medina’s production, given most of the audience probably wouldn’t know a tight end from a wide receiver. I loved Moreno despite its faults. And I don’t even like sport.

Read the full article

Audience Reviews
Significant and superbly performed
The Stage
lucid, compelling...superb
The Reviews Hub
hugely entertaining and politically sparky
Evening Standard
Wilkins’ writing feels fresh in its focus on racism in sport. He is an emerging talent we can expect to climb the ranks.
The Guardian
It was brilliant and urgent - such a strong production. It made me feel part of history.
Can’t stop thinking about it - its many layers and the excellent characterisation in the production will resonate for a long time - one would hope always!
Really poignant conversations. Very beautiful set design. Really entertaining.
It was like watching a film, but better. Brilliant writing, brilliant acting, intimate setting, gripped the whole time, moved.
Striking stage design, powerful script and direction

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