Cece’s Speakeasy

Apples and Snakes in association with Jazz re:freshed and The Albany present: 

Cece’s Speakeasy 

As global temperatures rise, the quality and quantity of our crops decreases. In the not-so-distant future, coffee bean production will halt – caffeine will become extinct. By 2050 there will be no more chocolate. 

Step forward into 2031…

Welcome to Cece’s Speakeasy.

A place for truth-seekers, chocolate lovers and coffee drinkers.

For adventurers.

For those with a story to tell and those who want to listen.

A place to indulge in the forbidden delights of an espresso martini, 

devour a hot chocolate and just kick back, relax and immerse yourself. 

A place for the people.

Set in a future world where coffee and chocolate are nearly extinct, Cece’s Speakeasy is an immersive poetic experience where storytellers, poets and musicians share new work exploring hope and action during the climate emergency.

Following the success of Cece’s Speakeasy in London in June/July 2021, the Cece’s project will be spreading its message across the country. In the Midlands and South West regions 12 artists will be commissioned to create digital poetic artworks as part of a campaign on climate justice and colonialism, writing and activism. Ahead of COP26 live events and community workshops will be held in Leicester and Bristol to showcase this work and further the dialogue.

Midlands Activists

We will shortly be releasing the poetic pieces in a digital format from our Midland Activisits: Melissandre Varin, Camille McCawley, Chadwick Jackson, Ingrid McLaren, Seun Matiluko and Ryan Sinclair.

The London Show

Featuring: Jan Blake, Anthony Joseph, The Repeat Beat Poet, Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa and Amyra León.

Musicians: Eric Appapoulay, Isobella Burnham, Renato Paris, Jermaine Amissah, Westley Joseph and Marcina Arnold.

Cece’s London Activists: Anneliese Amoah, Bhumika Billa, Cherry Eckle, Eileen Gbagbo, Lashay Green.

Creative team

Artistic Director: Zena Edwards

Musical Director: Eric Appapoulay

Design: Paul Burgess

Producer: Lisa Mead

Music Consultancy: Yvette Griffith

Artwork: Justin McKenzie

Activists Mentor: Kat Francois

Activists Producer: Natalie Fiawoo

Project developed by Zena Edwards & Lisa Mead

Cece’s Speakeasy  is an immersive poetic experience commissioned and produced by Apples and Snakes, in partnership with UK Jazz tastemakers, Jazz re:freshed and The Albany, and co-commissioned by Season For Change.


Meet the Cast

Zena Edwards

Artistic Director Zena Edwards is a poet, performer and climate activist who uses song, movement and global influences as a jump-off for her words. Edwards’ fuses traditional African-instrumentation (the Kalimba and Kora) and new technology to create soundtracks for her poems and stories, producing a body of work that reaches culturally and generationally diverse audiences on an international level.

As a multidisciplinary collaborator, Zena has collaborated with The Last Poets, Hugh Masekela, choreographer and dancer Akram Khan (Xenos), Visual Artist – Theaster Gates (Soul Manufacturing Company) and radical filmmaker Fahim Alam, (Riots Reframed).

Zena is radical arts educator and creative director of Verse in Dialog – an arts, culture and public engagement production house dedicated to championing the arts for positive change.

Born in East London to Mauritian parents, Musical Director Eric Appapoulay is a composer and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, whose passion for guitar started at age 8. Eric is a founder member of the Capital Radio young band of the year 1995 ‘Quite Sane’ (Jazz/hip-hop/fusion band) with Band members from schooldays Cassell the beat maker (Plan B) & Anthony Tidd (Steve Coleman).

As an international musician since the age of 19, he has performed on tour and in the studio with artists such as: Yusuf (Cat Stevens), Lionel Ritchie, Neneh Cherry, Plan B, Craig David, Jason Derulo, Keri Hilson, Beverley Knight, Daniel & Natasha Bedingfield, Nitin Sawhney, Patrice, Wunmi, Kojo Antwi & Ady Suleiman.

Paul Burgess

Paul Burgess is an East London-based set, costume and video designer, and sustainability campaigner. Since training at Motley, he has designed for numerous venues, ranging from Shakespeare’s Globe in London to the Pakistani National Council of Arts, Islamabad. He co-founded the The Society of British Theatre Designers’s sustainability working group and is a core team member of Ecostage, the global campaign for ecological thinking in the performing arts.

His previous work for Apples and Snakes includes designs for School of Dark and The Rememberers, and the Poetry Potting Shed in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Storytellers and poets

Jan Blake

Jan Blake is one of Europe’s leading storytellers who has been performing world-wide since 1986.

She was born in Manchester, of Jamaican parentage and specialises in stories from Africa and the Caribbean. Specialising in stories from Africa, the Caribbean, and Arabia, she has a well-earned reputation for dynamic and generous storytelling. Recent highlights include Hay Festival, where she was storyteller in-residence, the Viljandi Harvest Festival in Estonia and TEDx Warsaw.

She has developed relationships with several major arts organisations, including the National Theatre, where she is the Consultant on Storytelling; the London Philharmonic Orchestra; and Battersea Arts Centre. She has performed at all major storytelling festivals, leads storytelling workshops for schools and universities and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio programmes. Her own storytelling company and school is the Akua Storytelling Project.

In 2011, she was the recipient of the biannual Thüringer Märchen Preis, awarded to scholars or performers who have devoted their lives to the service of storytelling. As part of the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012, she was the curator for Shakespeare’s Stories, a landmark exhibition that explored themes of journey and identity, in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

In 2013, The Old Woman, The Buffalo, and The Lion of Manding created and performed with musicians Kouame and Raymond Sereba toured to acclaim winning a British Awards for Storytelling Excellence (BASE).

Anthony Joseph

Anthony Joseph is an award winning Trinidad-born poet, novelist, academic and musician. He is the author of four poetry collections and three novels. His 2018 novel Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award, and long listed for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. His most recent publication is the experimental novel The Frequency of Magic. In 2019, he was awarded a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. In 2020 a Polish translation of his afrofuturist classicThe African Origins of UFOs was published, followed by a Spanish edition of Kitch. As a musician, he has released seven critically acclaimed albums, and in 2020 received a Paul Hamblyn Foundation Composers Award. He has a PhD in Creative & Life Writing and lectures in Creative Writing at De Montfort University, Leicester.

The Repeat Beat Poet

The Repeat Beat Poet is Peter deGraft-Johnson (PJ), a Hip Hop Poet and broadcaster fusing traditional poetics and Hip Hop culture to capture and extend moments of time, thought, and feeling. PJ has performed across the UK and internationally at venues including the Southbank Centre and Ronnie Scotts in London, performing alongside writers like Margaret Atwood, Salena Godden (FRSA), and Roger Robinson. He co-founded the Hip Hop open mic night Pen-Ting, is an emcee with Hip Hop label and jam night Imaginary Millions, and created the Spoken Word radio show #TheRepeatBeatBroadcast and is the host of multi-award nominated Lunar Poetry Podcast, which is archived in the British Library.

Peter has been nominated for a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship, selected by BBC 1Xtra and the Roundhouse for their Poetry Collective programmes, and is an Obsidian Foundation fellow. His work has been published by Magma Poetry, Bad Betty Press, and Poetry On The Picket Line, his debut single This That was released in 2020 to rave reviews, and in 2021 he was awarded a residency at the Library of Africa & The African Diaspora in Ghana.

Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa

Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is a British born Barbadian raised poet of Jamaican and Barbadian descent. Using her background in dance and cultural studies, her poetry chiefly encompasses dance on the page and stage. Her brave and exciting work has been commended by notable literary figures including Roger Robinson and Joelle Taylor. Her forthcoming first poetry collection will be released with Out-Spoken Press in 2021.

Safiya is a recipient of the inaugural Jerwood Arts | Apples & Snakes Poetry in Performance Programme. She was awarded the 2020 New Voice in Poetry Prize by Culture Recordings. Also in 2020, she was shortlisted for the Out-Spoken Page Poetry Prize, The Creative Future Writers’ Award and longlisted in the Out-Spoken performance and film categories.

Publications in journals and anthologies include: The Caribbean Writer, The Amistad, Tentacular and Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Bad Betty Press.

Notable Commissions: The Original Wailers, BBC Bitesize, English Heritage, The Salisbury Theatre Playhouse, where her first play The Firebird was performed, in 2019.

Musicians

Amyra León

Amyra León is a musician, playwright, author, and activist. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, her work fuses music and poetry through powerfully transparent performances focusing on social inequalities and communal healing whilst celebrating love, Blackness, and womanhood. She has performed throughout the United States and Europe collaborating with the likes of The Apollo, BAM, BBC, Roundhouse, Amnesty International and more.

Amyra composed Una Mujer Derramada in collaboration with Sivan Eldar commissioned by and performed with Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra, the Montpellier National Opera, and the Paris Chamber Orchestra. She is the inaugural recipient of the Battersea Arts Centre Phoenix Award which led to the 2019 London premiere of her debut play VASELINE.

She is the author of Concrete Kids (Penguin 2020), Freedom We Sing (Flying Eye Books 2020) and Darling (Walker, Candlewick 2022) . Her musical debut, Something Melancholy, led to sharing stages with Common, Robert Glasper, Nikki Giovanni and more. Amyra’s debut album, WITNESS, was released in September 2020.

Isobella Burnham

Isobella Burnham is a bassist, vocalist and composer. She grew up in Barbados where she studied music and honed her skills.

Jermaine Amissah is a Saxophonist and Clarinettist based in South London. With Ghanaian Heritage, his playing has been greatly influenced by Afrobeat and Highlife Music as well as jazz greats namely Sonny Rollins and Zoot Sims. Jermaine has played with likes of Mark Kavuma, Celeste, Arlo Parks, Kinetika Bloco and Tomorrow’s Warriors all while completing a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Westley Joseph

Westley Joseph is a drummer. He started out in music from the tender age of 4 playing the steel pan at infant school, giving him his first taste of music. Making his living as a successful freelance musician based in London has allowed him to perform in all different musical styles and genres while continuing to challenge him to grow. Westley has toured extensively over the years to all corners of the world including Asia, Europe, the USA, the Caribbean and Africa. Westley has also shared the stage and supported artists like Stevie Wonder, Bob James, Kool and the Gang, Lalah Hathaway, Sounds of Blackness, Jimmy Cliff, Anthony B, Seun Kuti.

Renato Paris

Renato Paris – The great sounds of soul, pop, R&B, jazz and funk merge together creating the signature sound of Renato Paris. A BRIT School graduate, flourishing artist and a regular on the vibrant young London Jazz scene, music has tak- en Renato all over the world honing his craft on the road. He has worked with an array of artists, the likes of: Julian Joseph, Burt Bacharach, Jorja Smith, Nicola Piovani and Carleen Anderson to name a few. As well as leading his own band, he is a key member of two-time MOBO award-winner Moses Boyd’s Exodus band, and regularly leads the popular straight pocket jam at Pure Vinyl Records in Brixton, having founded the world-renowned weekly sessions. Renato has been featured at: Grammy Camp L.A., BBC Radio 1, BBC1Xtra, BBC Radio 3, Worldwide FM, JazzFM Awards, BBC Proms, BBC Maida Vale Live Sessions, Ronnie Scotts, NPR Tiny Desk & on London’s West End.

Marcina Arnold

Marcina Arnold is a London based singer /songwriter & multi instrumentalist. Her roots are from Scotland and South Africa.

She is highly skilled in voice and composition. Her live instruments include voice, percussion, piano, guitar, recorder, didgeridoo. In addition, she is skilled in choreography, dance, Indian classical kathak, afro-fusion and carnival. Live and recorded work includes: Vocalist/percussionist – Anthony Tidd’s “Quite Sane” (awarded Capital Radio Band of the Year), Steve Williamson, Mano Ventura Byron Wallens “ Sound Advice & Tarot Suite live tour – Tour Syria, Jason Yarde’s – “Acoutastic Bombastic” & “Dangerous Duets” (BBC Radio 3, F-ire Collective’s Big Band Orchestra. Jonzi D-s Hip Hop theatre piece as vocalist & percussionist “Aeroplane Man’. Her live appearances include MTV, Live TV, BBC TV & Radio, South African TV with “Shades” featured Marcina Arnold, Julie Dexter, Zena Edwards & Mpho Skeef.


Season for Change, is a nationwide programme of artistic and cultural events that celebrate the environment and inspire urgent climate action.

Commissioned by Season for Change, a nationwide programme of artistic and cultural events that celebrate the environment and inspire urgent climate action. Led by Julie’s Bicycle and Artsadmin, and supported by Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

www.seasonforchange.org.uk #SeasonforChange @jointheseason_

Cece’s has received additional support from “The London Community Foundation” and “Cockayne – Grants for the Arts”, the PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Organisations, Jerwood Arts and The Garrick Trust.

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