New play tells untold story of African soldiers during WWII, for one night only

A new play centred around the untold story of African soldiers who fought for Britain in WWII will be brought to life at The Crucible next month, for one night only.

‘Never Look Back’, written by Sheffield actor and director John Rwothomack, is a fictional yet historical story which takes inspiration from John’s Ugandan family heritage and the real-life King’s African Rifles (KAR).

Never Look Back

This regiment, composed of soldiers from East and Southern African commonwealth nations but led by chiefly white British officers, fought in several key campaigns during WWII.

John, the founder of Sheffield’s Roots Mbili Theatre, said: “Both my grandfathers served on the frontline in World War Two, and my great-grandfather served in World War One.

“I felt that legacy was the past that’s missing for me.

“I didn’t know anything about what they had gone through because it simply wasn’t spoken of. Many Africans today still don’t know the stories of their grandparents in the war.

“I believe this is the first time this story has been told in a theatre.”

Never Look Back John Rwothomack

Writer of ‘Never Look Back’ John Rwothomack

A sharing of the first act of ‘Never Look Back’ will take place for one night only on 4 November, a week before Remembrance Day and just after Black History Month concludes.

The play focuses on the relationship between veteran Komakech Ogwang and his granddaughter Anena Gladis, as she wants to know more about his service while he is uneasy about unearthing the past.

In the show, the conversations transport the audience back from present-day Uganda to 1944, where the daily terrors of war, sacrifices and racial inequality experienced by the KAR soldiers are unflinchingly revealed.

More than a year of research undertaken in Africa and the UK has gone into the play, with Award-winning director James Ngcobo at the helm.

Never Look Back James Ngcobo

Director of ‘Never Look Back’ James Ngcobo

John said commemorating soldiers of the KAR, rarely mentioned in remembrance terms or history lessons, was a driving force for the work.

He added: “I tried so hard to find these stories, some legacy for the soldiers, but it doesn’t exist.

“These soldiers are not recognised for what they did. That’s why I had to write this show, to offer some kind of recognition.”

The work-in-progress performance is part of the production’s development before it transitions to a full tour.

Tickets for ‘Never Look Back’ at The Crucible are available on a pay-as-you-feel basis, starting at £5.

The performance starts at 7 p.m. on 4th November and tickets include a Q&A session with the cast and creative team afterwards.

Never Look Back was developed as part of the Nationwide Voices scheme by English Touring Theatre in conjunction with Sheffield Theatres.

To book tickets, call the box office on 0114 249 6000 or visit

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