Black Lives Black Words is a conversation held across continents | Madani Younis

It’s on us. It’s always been on us. From Claudia Jones to Michael X, from Frank Crichlow to Darcus Howe to Doreen and Neville Lawrence, there is a rich and fierce tradition of resistance that has defined the past century in this great city. 2016 was a significant year in the UK. Following the Brexit… Read More

Art doesn’t have the privilege of looking on as everyone else struggles: London’s Bush Theatre re-opens with Black Lives, Black Words

by Zahra Dalilah When Madani Younis stepped into the role of Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012, he became the first person of colour to run a theatre building in London’s history. Under no illusions as to just how radically things were changing, Younis began laying the foundations for what in 2017 has… Read More

Caramel queen or white man’s whore: #HashtagLightie, the play exploring the realities of modern mixed-race lives

by Zahra Dalilah Women and men of mixed heritage, especially black/white, are often called upon in media to provide an inoffensive face of diversity, a fetishized vision of exotic beauty or simplistically characterised as inherently confused halves of one thing or the other. The play #HashtagLightie – which recently sold out the Arcola Theatre, London… Read More

Human language, human emotions: interview with the RSC’s Natalie Simpson

“What will the future hold when someone who hasn’t been brought up ‘correctly’ takes over?” by Kelly Kanayama  This is Part 2 of a two-part interview series with actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company. (Part 1 with King Lear‘s Clarence Smith is here.) I spoke to Natalie Simpson, who recently played Ophelia in Hamlet and is currently playing Cordelia in… Read More

Sustaining yourself as an actor of colour: interview with the RSC’s Clarence Smith

“Playing any Shakespeare character when you are black…always challenges the idea of what is acceptable” by Kelly Kanayama  This two-part interview series came about after the Royal Shakespeare Company offered us the chance to speak with their actors about their work. I started out by chatting to Clarence Smith, a veteran of stage, film and TV who plays… Read More

Bringing black British histories to the theatre: an interview with Dawn Walton

by Sabo Kpade  The Artistic Director of Eclipse Theatre Company talks about the Arts Council-funded project Revolution Mix, and reflects on her eighteen years in the industry.   Tell us a bit about Revolution Mix. What does the project hope to achieve? It’s about inclusiveness. It’s about legacy. It’s about trying to tackle the sort… Read More

Even with “inclusive” Shakespeare, whiteness takes priority

by Kelly Kanayama  Gregory Doran, the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, came under fire recently for a Times article entitled “Lack of diversity not a problem, says RSC boss”. The article stated that Doran “did not want the middle classes sidelined” and wanted to maintain “equal rights” for “those of us who are white… Read More

Sachin Joab’s performance in ‘Disgraced’ shows that Australia needs to foreground its actors of colour

by Suzy Wrong  Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced drops bombs at regular intervals to unnerve, to disarm and, most of all, to confront. It is a response to the undeniable horrors around us that involves no sugar-coating, and no rose-tinted glasses. We can all agree that everything is not quite coming up… Read More

Still Barred: Reflections on a Black woman’s trauma and mental health

by Guilaine Kinouani  ‘Each episode of depression I have experienced, I have experienced because of the struggles I have faced in my life as a Black woman’. Those were the words spoken by a fellow panellist who went on to share her personal testimony of distress, as part of the discussion which followed the reading… Read More

Defying Baghdad’s violence, volunteers are re-opening the city’s historic theatre

by Nazli Tarzi  This article first appeared in Niqash and has been republished here with their permission. In Baghdad’s Salihiya neighbourhood, a group of volunteers are staging a different kind of protest. They have cleaned up a deserted theatre and started performances there again. Rows of empty seats coated in dust are the first thing… Read More