Writer and Director Jahmar Ngozi talks about his show ‘The Lost Generation’ to stream on YouTube and Facebook

Inspired by the life and works of celebrated artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, an artist noted for his social commentary on power structures, race and class – PoetryHouse founder Jahmar Ngozi presents The Lost Generationan online production delving into Basquiat’s experiences of living in New York and being of the Caribbean diaspora. Ahead of the streaming across YouTube and Facebook Live, Jahmar tells us more about why he identifies with Basquiat, adapting the show for an online audience and how he’s found creating work during this challenging time.

Hi Jahmar, your show The Lost Generation will stream online on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st November. How are you feeling ahead of the performance?
I feel very grateful. This feels different to any production I’ve done before. It’s quite exciting as I’ve never received such support and the Arts Council have enabled me to develop a project and team that really help to celebrate this idea into online creativity, with a sense of originality and integrity. 
Lost Generation is a contemporary depiction of how Jean-Michel Basquiat worked and lived, highlighting the personal and social influences that directly affected him. What drew you to explore Basquiat’s life further?
Basquiat’s achievements, challenges and lifestyle provide genuine insight into many aspects of the experience of the Black Diaspora.
I was born and raised in London to Caribbean parents, Jean-Michel was born in New York, to Caribbean parents. I think I identified with Jean-Michel because we shared this common experience and he was active and an icon within the creative scene from street art to the exclusive galleries, which was very admirable. Being exposed and raised within two different cultures can be confusing and inspiring, as you may be rejected and celebrated by both. The Black Diaspora had a significant influence on the content of his work. He was an exceptional artist.
The show will take place via Zoom, with seven actors taking on the roles of Frida Kahlo, Gil-Scott Heron, Charles Bukowski and F.Scott Fitzgerald. How have found adapting your work for an online audience?
It’s been interesting. Using what we have to make the experience engaging and innovative has been fun. It has kept the dynamism of theatre, whilst technology has allowed us to create unique visuals to develop a world for this to take place.
As well as writing the piece, you’ve also directed the show. What has this part of the process involved?
I have very clear ideas, though working with Ajjaz the Assistant Director I get really good alternative options and it’s been great to have her along for this and also to strengthen character development, the aspects of physical theatre and the play as a completed piece. I also have a great cast and being able to hear their ideas and work with them on developing scenes has been amazing. Overall it has been a great collaborative effort. 
How have you found creating work during this time?
Having the time and focus to develop this piece has been refreshing. I really appreciate having the time to write and think about the idea. The personal challenges have been very real as I lost some important people very close to me. This made writing and being creative more poignant as I gained more appreciation for time, family and health. To use what was around me; technology for developing ideas and socialising, nature for rest-bite and peace of mind, prayer for everything. 
What can audiences expect from the show?
Expect a diverse showcase of brilliant British actors, an original narrative with poetical undertones and a window seat into the world of art and artists. 
What would you like for audiences to take away from the show?
I would like everyone to take away a feeling of celebration for cultural and creative diversity, my spoken word album London, Paris, Amsterdam and two pieces from the PoetryHouse sustainable fashion line, one for themselves the other as a gift for someone else.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
The Lost Generation will be free to stream on Friday 20th November from 9pm and Saturday 21st November at 2pm and 9pm. To find out more, visit here…
It will also stream on Facebook Live here…
Written by Theatrefullstop