Black T-shirt Collection

Inua Ellams and Fuel


Fringe First winner Inua Ellams is a word and graphic artist whose work merges visual art, spoken word and theatre to tell stories with iconic imagery, humour and beauty. Drawing on a diverse range of influences from Keats to hip hop, Ellams crosses 18th century Romanticism and traditional storytelling with contemporary diction and musicality.  He writes about his upbringing, the experience of immigration, and of living in London today, bringing words to life with pace and rhythm, cadence and intonation. Black T-shirt Collection is produced by Fuel, an organisation working in partnership with some of the most exciting artists in the UK to develop, create and present new work for the broadest possible audience.

Black T-shirt Collection tells the story of two foster brothers – one gay, one straight; one Christian, one Muslim – who build a global T-shirt brand. On their journey through the markets of Nigeria, nightclubs of Europe and sweatshops of China, Matthew and Muhammed discover the consequences of success. As their business booms, they can't evade the secrets that bind them together and risk tearing them apart. Combining lyrical spoken word and animation, Black T-shirt Collection is a modern fable exploring brotherhood, homophobia, and global capitalism, which draws on Ellams’ own experiences of growing up in Nigeria, immigration, and of living in the UK today.

Black T-shirt Collection is commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre and developed with the support of the Arvon Foundation, the National Theatre and the Jerwood residencies at Cove Park, which are supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation Funded by Arts Council England.


In the press

"You sink into his storytelling, which paints vivid mental images" Time Out

"…a fluent, intense 70-minute confection and a tingling, resonant celebration of the art of solo performance" London Evening Standard

Production details

  • Writer

    Inua Ellams
  • Director

    Thierry Lawson
  • Designer

    Michael Vale; Michael Nabarro (Lighting); Emma Laxton (Sound)
  • Number of people on stage

  • Number of people in touring company

  • Freight


    20ft container

  • Touring Availability

    From Autumn 2013
  • Scale of venue

    Small-scale (capacity up to 400),
    Middle-scale (capacity 400-850)
  • Minimum performance space

    5m x 5m with a hanging point for a 5m wide screen
  • Text-based

    Dense (important for audiences to have a good understanding of English)

In Edinburgh

  • Venue

    Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ
  • Production dates

    19 – 24 August
  • Production times

    10:45 – 12:00
  • Duration

    75 MINS (no interval)
  • Audience capacity



  • Address

    Fuel c/o Battersea Arts Centre
    Lavender Hill
    SW11 5TN
  • Email
  • Contact for touring

    Kate McGrath

Additional productions

The 14th Tale (Inua Ellams and Fuel), Ring (David Rosenberg, Glen Neath and Fuel), While You Wait(podcasts installed in four bespoke listening stations),Going Dark (Sound&Fury and Fuel) Love Letters Straight From Your Heart (Uninvited Guests and Fuel)