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Theatre503 presents

The Great Privation: How to flip ten cents into a dollar

Written by Nia Akilah Robinson
Directed by Kalungi Ssebandeke
Book Now

The Great Privation is about Grave Robbing: Grave Robbing during the early 1800’s. Grave Robbing during the Cholera outbreak. Grave Robbing in Pennsylvania. Robbing of Black bodies for medical research. Black bodies that were commodified even after death. Black bodies that never got their rest.

In early 1800’s Pennsylvania, a mother and daughter keep vigil at a grave. Today, at a Summer Camp on the same grounds, a new, yet not entirely different mother and daughter navigate a new, yet not entirely different landscape. Alongside them, two distinct male figures move in and out of both sets of lives, threatening to unearth dark truths – or to help create them. As timelines collide and secrets and lives become buried and revealed, a reckoning comes calling to them all: the roots to our ancestors are not as long as we may think.

2023 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award Finalist The Great Privation: How to flip ten cents into a dollar is a stunning, profound play exploring the historical disruption of black bodies at rest, and the deep impact still felt today. Nia Akilah Robinson’s beautiful and haunting debut play, directed by Theatre503 Carne Associate Director Kalungi Ssebandeke, captures humour and joy amongst the darkest moments, and asks us all to reflect deeply on who we once might have been.

Running time: 95 minutes (no interval)

Age guidance: 14+

Content Warnings: This show contains themes that some audience members may find distressing. If this sounds like it could apply to you, you can view the content information by clicking the hyperlink.




14 May 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 a £8 ticket, email to be digitally tagged as a writer. If you have previously been tagged as a writer, your ticket will automatically adjust to £8 on the final page of booking – you do not need a Promo Code. On Writers Night, there will be a Q&A with the literary department and writer of the show between 6:50pm-7:20pm. If you are unable to attend our Writers Night, the £8 Writers tickets will also be available up until Saturday 18th May.

22 May 7:30pm & 25 May 2:30pm PAY WHAT YOU CHOOSE: These are our two Pay What You Choose performances, where tickets start from £6. Please note, unlike previous seasons, the final Saturday of the run is no longer a Pay What You Choose performance.

29 May 12pm PARENT & BABY:  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.

31 May 7:30pm FILMED PERFORMANCE:  This performance will be recorded for archival purposes, if you have any questions please call our Box Office or email

Nia Akilah Robinson

Nia Akilah Robinson (she/her) is a playwright and actor who reps Harlem with all her might. She is a graduating second-year playwright in the Juilliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program. Her work has been seen and developed with Steppenwolf Theatre, The Hearth, The New Group, Theatre503 (UK), The Ground Floor: Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Great Plains Theatre Conference, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Waterwell, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Urbanite, and New Georges. She has been a MacDowell Fellow, Travis Bogard Eugene O'Neill Foundation Fellow, and a writer for PEN America and EST/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (short play). Nia has had residencies at NYSAF and The Pocantico Center through YoungArts. Nia’s work will be featured in the 2024 46th Bay Area Playwrights Festival, 2024 The Fire This Time Festival, was featured in the 2023 SPACE JAM @ Roundabout Theatre, and the 48th Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival. She participated in the National Black Theatre Soul Series and received the 2023 Film & TV Mentorship by Mitzi Miller. She has been awarded 1st Place for the 2023 A is For Playwriting Contest, the Next Wave Initiative Lorraine Hansberry Writing Scholarship, a Miranda Family Fund Commission, and the NYSCA Grant (CCCADI). She is shortlisted for the 2023 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award. She was a finalist for the Audible Commission, the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and the Blue Ink Playwriting Award. She is a member or alumna of Ensemble Studio Theatre's Youngblood, I-73 at Page 73, The Orchard Project NYCGreenhouse, The Wish Collective, and TheBlackHERthePen. She is proudly represented by Alex Gold at Creative Artists Agency.


Tuesday 14 May Tue 14 May 19:30 Book Now
Wednesday 15 May Wed 15 May 19:30 Book Now
Thursday 16 May Thu 16 May 19:30 Book Now
Friday 17 May Fri 17 May 19:30 Book Now
Saturday 18 May Sat 18 May 19:30 Book Now
Monday 20 May Mon 20 May 19:30 Sold Out
Tuesday 21 May Tue 21 May 19:30 Sold Out
Wednesday 22 May Wed 22 May 19:30 Book Now
Thursday 23 May Thu 23 May 19:30 Sold Out
Friday 24 May Fri 24 May 19:30 Book Now
Saturday 25 May Sat 25 May 14:30 Book Now
Saturday 25 May Sat 25 May 19:30 Book Now
Tuesday 28 May Tue 28 May 19:30 Book Now
Wednesday 29 May Wed 29 May 12:00 Book Now
Wednesday 29 May Wed 29 May 19:30 Book Now
Thursday 30 May Thu 30 May 19:30 Book Now
Friday 31 May Fri 31 May 19:30 Book Now
Saturday 1 June Sat 1 Jun 14:30 Book Now
Saturday 1 June Sat 1 Jun 19:30 Book Now
Artistic Team
Nia Akilah Robinson
Kalungi Ssebandeke
Set and Costume Designer
Ruth Badila
Lighting Designer
Chuma Emembolu
Sound Designer
José Guillermo Puello
Movement Director
Yemurai Zvaraya
Casting Director
Fran Cattaneo
Casting Assistant
Lydia Doyle
Voice and Dialect Coach
Aundrea Fudge
Stage Manager
Shereen Hamilton
Production Manager
Adam Jefferys
Ceri Lothian
Executive Producer
Zena Collins
Associate Producer
Clarisse Makundul Productions
Sydney Sainté
Ella Dacres
Romeo Mika
John/Modern Day John
Jack Gouldbourne

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