Burn My Heart

Adapted for stage by Rina Vergano from the novel by Beverley Naidoo

Set during the Mau Mau uprising in 1950s Kenya and the ensuing State of Emergency, two boys’ lives are changed forever as their relationship is blown apart.  When the story begins, Mathew and Mugo have a close but complex friendship.  Mugo and his father work for Mathew’s family on the land seized from their ancestors.

Creative Team for premiere production by Trestle Theatre in collaboration with Blindeye

Director: Oliver Jones
Writer: Beverley Naidoo
Adaptor: Rina Vergano
Designer: Anoushka Athique
Lighting Designer: John Purkis
Composer: Juwon Ogungbe
Associate Artist: Emily Gray
Assistant Director: Emma Whittaker

Burn my Heart’s powerful mix of character, situation and imagery lends itself to the storytelling styles of Trestle and Blindeye. Theatre is uniquely a place where debate can happen, where characters can come alive in the moment, and, through the imagination of the storytelling, vast landscapes as well as minute details can be observed. It is in this place that I believe the story of Burn my Heart can flourish, and affect an audience as brightly and boldly as it affected me when I first encountered it.
– Oliver Jones, Director of Burn My Heart


One man’s patriot is another man’s traitor. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. We’ve become used to this contradiction in politics but the novel by Beverley Naidoo, now adapted into a play by Rina Vergano, shows how discontent with a colonial regime can also… lead to that nastiest of all conflicts – a civil war… [This story is] a tragedy, one of ordinary people at an extraordinary time in a place of unexpected crossroads.
– **** Anne Morley-Priestman, What’s On Stage

A disturbing reminder…of the attitudes of many colonialists in the days of empire. This is a story of fears, loyalties and betrayals across and on both sides of the racial divide and is movingly and grippingly presented by a team of actors who play many parts between them.
– Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

One of the scariest things about colonisation and war is that we rarely learn from our mistakes. Which makes it all the more important that we are constantly reminded what they were.
– Lauren Paxman, The Stage

…what place remains for politically engaged theatre for young people that explores important historical episodes from the perspective of young people themselves? To judge by the responses from the Year 10 students sitting around me at a recent performance of Burn My Heart… the answer is a resoundingly positive one.
– Tony Horwitz, National Drama

Trestle and Blindeye have achieved a real sense of the life and endangerment from those involved, transporting the audience through chilling and playful atmospheres… Burn My Heart has an ensemble of true talent and versatility.
– Jake Orr, A Younger Theatre

With 20+ characters, the play requires a minimum of 5 actors multi-roling and playing across gender, ethnicity and age, but it is also suitable for a large cast.


Above: listen to Beverley Nadoo’s phone interview about her work and the play with Anne Wanjie on Resonance FM.


For performance rights contact either:

Jessica Hare,
The Agency,
24 Pottery Lane,
London W11 4LZ
Email here 
Joanna Marston,
Rosica Colin Ltd,
1 Clareville Grove Mews,
London SW7 5AH
Email here