Tomorrow Is Not Promised, by The Lowry
Tomorrow Is Not Promised, a stage production by a Salford writer and director, is coming to The Lowry this week.
Tian Glasgow moved to Salford two years ago, after living in London, but this play has been almost seven years in the making.
“I began writing ‘Tomorrow Is Not Promised’ in 2015.” Glasgow said, “This is a really, really long time coming.”
Tomorrow ‘not being promised’, is a theme used throughout the Bible, but wasn’t Tian’s inspiration for the name:
“I went to Ghana,” he said, “there was a life insurance billboard, and it said: ‘Tomorrow Is Not Promised’.
“I took a picture, because I looked at it and thought, ‘Pfft thanks.
“‘As if anyone doesn’t know this’.”
The performance was written from personal experiences of loss and grief, as well as thinking about how people heal from it.
Glasgow wanted to represent this universally understood theme through two black women, giving them a story that was their own.
He said: “It was really lovely to be able to put these two black performers on stage, and for them to have that hero’s journey.”
Glasgow added: “Just being on stage as a black body is a political statement, even if you’re doing anything benign.”
The play follows a woman who has awoken after an ‘earthquake’, finding her house destroyed.
The only thing left is a door, which she struggles to leave behind.
“There’s always a question mark as to what has actually happened – is this a real earthquake? Or is this a life-shattering event?”
Glasgow wanted to create ‘magical realism’, meaning it’s never made clear whether the play is set in a real location, or within the protagonist’s mind.
“By lifting the story out of context, it kind of makes it afro-futuristic”, he said.
He further indicated that the colours and patterns used may reinforce this idea:
The audience follows the unnamed protagonist through her grief as she tries to find peace in her loss.
Glasgow said: “I always wonder if there’s anything problematic about not giving a name.
“I wanted to create this sort of ‘every man’ character that could connect to anyone but is performed in the black body.”
The inspiration for the characters came from real people in Glasgow’s life:
“The characters are certain reflections of me, but very much distanced, it more comes from seeing how black women in my life deal with grief.”
Tian emphasised how much it mattered who the story was told through, and that it was a universal feeling that everyone could relate to.
“Mysterious is what grief is; he said, “It’s different for everyone; it’s really complicated.”
Glasgow doesn’t want the audience to pity the protagonist, because he believes she is very much in control of her own life.
“I want the audience to feel empathy for the fact they’re sharing that human experience of making mental barriers to protect themselves.
“I would like to think that the humour makes it not about pity.”
Tian uses playwriting and theatre to express opinions and emotions, writing because it’s his passion.
“Fame is not what I want” he said, going as far as to say the concept terrified him, “I want to make stuff and still kind of be a ‘Banksy’.”
The play will be performed at The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays, on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th of February.