News: Princess Essex to tour Essex community venues

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is excited to announce that Princess Essex will be going on tour to Essex community venues and audiences can see it for FREE

Based on the little-known, true story of Princess Dinubolu, Princess Essex is the funny and dynamic tale of the first black woman to ever enter a beauty pageant in the UK.

Building on the success of last year’s community tour of Tales From The Thames, Princess Essex will now also tour to venues in Grays, Aveley, Basildon, Pitsea and West Tilbury. The production is part of Creative Estuary Co-commissions – the initiative which SEACA LOGO 2020 aims to showcase 60 miles of the North Kent and
South Essex region as one of the UK’s most dynamic and creative areas in the whole of the UK – working on this occasion with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch (QTH).

Princess Essex is written and performed by Anne Odeke. As a writer, Anne has recently represented Essex in Radio 4’s latest series United Kingdoms. She has also been commissioned by Storyhouse theatre in Chester, to write an adaptation of Little Women set in World War One which will play this coming summer at Grosvenor Park. As a performer, Anne has recently worked with the RSC, as well as Shakespeare’s Globe, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, Birmingham Rep & the Royal Lyceum.

Southend-on-Sea, Essex. 1908. Tired of life, black Essex girl Joanna, decides to take matters into her own hands and enter herself into one of the country’s most prestigious beauty pageants, disguised as a Senegalese Princess. A true story, that not only asks us to question the misconception of the Essex girl, but invites audience members to consider who are the gate keepers of history and why have so many incredible black stories been hidden.

The team behind the project include: Director – Robin Belfield (RSC), Assistant Director – Michelle Payne (Squad Goals), Designer – Gemma Compton (All my Sons, QTH), Lighting Designer – Ben Garcia (Museum of the Homeless), Sound Designer – Hattie North (Shuga Fixx vs the Illuminati), Technical Stage Manager – Jade Ayres (Peter Pan). The play has been created with public funding from Arts Council England.

The show is also in partnership with Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, The Mercury Theatre Colchester and the South Essex African Caribbean Association (SEACA). The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport funds the Cultural Development Fund which is administered by Arts Council England.

Princess Essex will first open at The Mercury Theatre Colchester before it then tours South Essex from 26 February to 11 March. The venues and locations have been chosen as places where local people rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to see live theatre performed. Princess Essex will play at the Queen’s Theatre, Billet Lane, Hornchurch on 27 February. Tickets for the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch event will cost £10* and the March events will be FREE (ticket still required). To book, call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or book online at

Mercury Theatre, Colchester, CO1 1PT
Date and time: Saturday 19 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: £8

The Balmoral Community Centre, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 7AU
Date and time: Saturday 26 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 (+65p QNext fee)

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, RM11 1QT
Date and time: Sunday 27 February at 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 (+65p QNext fee)

Tyrells Hall Working Men’s Club, Grays, RM17 6EY
Date and time: Tuesday 1 March at 7.30pm
Tickets: Free (ticket still required)

Aveley Community Hub, RM15 4BY
Date and time: Thursday 3 March at 7.30pm
Tickets: Free (ticket still required)

The Place, Pitsea Leisure Centre, Basildon, SS13 3DU
Date and time: Saturday 5 March at 7.30pm
Tickets: Free (ticket still required)

Wat Tyler Centre, Pitsea, SS16 4UH
Date and time: Sunday 6 March at 2pm
Tickets: Free (ticket still required)

West Tilbury Village Hall, RM18 8UD
Date and time: Friday 11 March at 7.30pm
Tickets: Free (ticket still required)

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