The Return of Benjamin Lay

13 June 2023 to 8 July 2023 Finborough Theatre

Benjamin Lay – shepherd, sailor, prophet, and the British Empire’s first revolutionary abolitionist – returns from the grave almost 300 years after his death, as feisty and unpredictable as ever.

Continuing a unique decade-long collaboration between multi-award-winning playwright Naomi Wallace and multi-award-winning historian Marcus Rediker, featuring acclaimed American actor Mark Povinelli and directed by RSC Honorary Associate Director Ron Daniels, The Return of Benjamin Lay sweeps across the centuries in a bold exploration of an utterly impossible man.

Disowned by his beloved Quakers for his passionate campaigning and acts of guerrilla theatre, the four feet tall “Little David” confronts the “Goliath” of slavery once again as he pleads to be readmitted into his community. The Return of Benjamin Lay celebrates an extraordinary man who fought against slavery and faced down discrimination and subverted people’s stereotypes of dwarves in the 18th century. Benjamin, a radical for his time, was also a vegetarian with the belief in animals’ worth to be equal to humans, and a staunch environmental activist who warned against the wealthy who poison the earth for gain.

With a determination to create a role for an actor with Dwarfism, unprecedented in British theatre, the play is the result of years of research in collaboration with the Quaker and Little People communities. Based on the acclaimed source material by Marcus Rediker, it has played key role in re-embracement of Benjamin by his community, going on to inspire activists worldwide, and solidifying him as part of the rich history of people with dwarfism.

The Return of Benjamin Lay: Tuesday 13th June – Saturday 8th July 2023 Finborough Theatre

Further Information: The Return Of Benjamin Lay