The Canary and the Crow – Content notes

Age guidance: 14+

Contains themes of racial identity and class, with some strong language and depictions of violence.

Plot summary

We want to ensure that we do not cause distress among our audiences because of the content of our work. The summary below includes spoilers but may be useful to those who prefer to know the subjects touched upon in the show.

The writer and lead performer starts by talking about his time at drama school, when a famous black actor visits and asks why cultural whitewashing is still happening. The writer then reflects on his childhood and receiving a letter inviting him to grammar school. This character is The Bird.

On his first day The Bird gets into a fight and realises that people at school see him differently to how his friends at home in the park do. The Bird reflects on finding himself going between two worlds: the school and his neighbourhood.

The Bird begins to enjoy school more but he gets a detention after arguing with a teacher about his dialect, then somebody else in a computer class repeats racial stereotypes to him on an anonymous chat room. The Bird also falls out with his friend Snipes at home and they fight.

One day after school The Bird and his friends are robbed by Snipes, who punches one of them. The Bird denies knowing Snipes. Later The Bird’s friend, Richard says he knows the truth, but that The Bird isn’t the same kind of young black man as Snipes. The Bird finishes the play by telling the fable of The Canary and the Crow, a singing competition between two birds from very different backgrounds.

Last updated: 12 October 2021