Express & Star

Grand Theatre's Windrush film returning to Light House Cinema

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre's first ever self-produced film, based on the life of a Wolverhampton Windrush settler, is returning to the city's Light House Cinema.

Reuben Campbell. Photo: Jonathan Hipkiss.

Reuben Campbell arrived in the city from Jamaica in 1962 to forge a new life, which included running the city's Rising Star Club.

His life is the subject of the Grand's film: A Joyous Jamaican Conversation, which evolved from conversations sparked by and prior to the sell-out performance of Rush - A Joyous Jamaican Journey. It was a sell-out success when first screened in June and is now being shown three more times.

Mr Campbell travelled halfway across the world to make a new life for himself when he was just 20 years old and found himself in very different climes when he arrived in Britain.

"I didn't know what to expect," he said, "I came into the worst bad weather on record in 1962-1963."

His first job in the Black Country was working out on the railway line with British Electric Traction, and he was based at the depot in Wednesbury.

But after being turned away from nightclubs because he was black, Mr Campbell decided he was going to set up his own nightclub

The Rising Star Club opened in Bilston in July 1977, and he ran it for seven years before setting up what he believes was the first black-owned pub in the Black Country.

"Most young ones didn't have anywhere to go," Mr Campbell said. "It was a meeting place and a place of promotion for people.

"We did fashion shows, talent shows, and we had the best DJs. Everybody missed it."

In his 60 years settled in the UK, Mr Campbell had never been to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, despite a huge love of music and theatre.

A Joyous Jamaican Conversation

It took the programming of Rush Theatre Company’s Rush - A Joyous Jamaican Journey in November 2021 to entice him through the doors of the Grand - and now he's the star of their first self-produced film.

Tonia Daley-Campbell, who works as an audience development consultant for Wolverhampton Grand, helped to bring the film to life.

She said: "My remit is about bringing new stories to the Grand - this is one of those stories that I was so excited to bring to the theatre.

"We looked at the production of Rush which is all about Windrush and came up the idea with promoting the theatre production by doing a conversation with members of the local community that had come over at that time.

"So we found the wonderful Mr Campbell and he came to the Grand for the very first time.

"We had a conversation with Mr Campbell and members of the theatre company and we filmed that, hence we now have a documentary which is A Joyous Jamaican Conversation.

"There are so many hidden stories in Wolverhampton, so much wealth within our community in the little city of Wolverhampton.

"This is just the beginning and I'm really excited for where we're going."

A Joyous Jamaican Conversation will be showing at Wolverhampton's Light House Cinema on Friday, September 2, and twice on Saturday, September 3.