Surge is based on Jay’s prize-winning one-off performance which won 2018 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

Rooted in the area’s local history, Surge re-visits the 1981 New Cross Massacre, where thirteen young black people lost their lives in a house fire. Today, nearly 40 years later, the cause of the fire is still a mystery, clouded by police incompetence and government indifference. Yet this was also a defining moment in Black British history, leading to activism and protests against racism, riots and marches, radio appeals and collective action.

Told in the voices of those who died, and using archive film, video and audio, Surge asks what we can learn from the New Cross Massacre in this new age — of Brexit, Trump, increasing xenophobia and the resurgence of the far right.


Jo Tyabji – Co-Director

Rex Obano – Dramaturg

Mwen Rukandema – Music and Sound Design

Mijke van der Drift – Lighting Design

Blackcurrent – Visuals

B.O.S.S – Sound System

George Padmore Institute – Archive Resources


Produced by Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions.