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Painful realities

Tamantha Hammerschlag's play, Backpay, was first performed as part of Storming, the Royal Court Young Writers' Festival last year. A 23-year-old South African, Hammerschlag has a remarkably mature ability to mix social and political comment with a young person's emotional quest for independence.

Out of sympathy with her racially prejudiced mother, South African teenager Mina seeks out her old black nurse, Sophie. In post-apartheid Soweto the two reminisce, but change has not been as simple or as complete as Mina would like to believe. She is forced by her relationship with Sophie's grown-up children, who belong to a new, educated, free-thinking generation of Blacks, to face her own residual prejudice.

Backpay begins a tour of the East of England next week. At each venue, young people aged 16 to 25 are invited to attend free workshops on rehearsal techniques and playwrighting as well as the issues raised in the play. There are still places available for some of the workshops between March 3 and March 21 at Chelmsford, King's Lynn, Boston, Gainsborough, Grantham, Bedford, Cambridge, Norwich, and Hemel Hempstead. Information from the Royal Court Young People's Theatre: 0181 960 4641. Backpay runs at Royal Court Theatre Upstairs (0171 565 5000) until tomorrow.

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