‘BBC RADIO 4 will broadcast the first radio dramatisations of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies to mark her 90th birthday year’

Starting on June 18 2018, with ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings‘, the dramas will feature three “Maya Angelou’s” at different stages in her life, beginning in childhood with Indie Gjesdal playing the young Angelou and continuing with Pippa Bennett-Warner playing the adult Angelou.

Angelou’s remarkable works have been dramatised by award-winning playwrights Patricia CumperJanice Okoh and Winsome Pinnock.

NB: please check out Winsome Pinnock’s revival of’ the award-winning play ‘Leave Taking’ is back!

Jeremy Howe, BBC Radio 4’s commissioning editor for drama and fiction, said: “The books that make up the life and times of Maya Angelou are some of the best, most beautiful and haunting pieces of autobiography I have ever read. They run the gamut from life affirming to tragedy and back again with a tone that is a joyous, direct and searingly honest, and are an extraordinary portrait of 20th century black America”.

Throughout her lifetime, Angelou published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She won three Grammys, a Tony, a National Book Award, and was nominated for a Pulitzer.

Angelou delivered an inaugural recitation during Bill Clinton’s ceremony – the first poet to do so in over thirty years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest US civilian award) from Barack Obama.

Alongside the dramatisations, Radio 4 is working with academy award-winning animation studio Aardman to create an animation in celebration of Angelou’s life and work which will be available via the Radio 4 website.

Here’s when you can catch the special broadcasts:

  • Maya Angelou: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings / 18 – 22 June 2018, 10:45 AM – Dramatised by Patricia Cumper
  • Maya Angelou: Gather Together In My Name / 6 – 10 August 2018, 10:45 AM – Dramatised by Patricia Cumper
  • Maya Angelou: Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting Merry Like Christmas / 1 – 5 October 2018, 10:45am – Dramatised by Winsome Pinnock
  • Maya Angelou: The Heart of a Woman / 26 – 30 November 2018 – Dramatised by Janice Okoh
  • Maya Angelou: All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes / 7 – 11 January 2019 – Dramatised by Patricia Cumper
  • Maya Angelou: A Song Flung Up To Heaven / 25 February – 1 March 2019 – Dramatised by Patricia Cumper

Listen to Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’ below…