This post has been written by and as a theatre-lover, who over the last week has been trying to collect resources and information about how I can start to become a better theatregoer. I am aware of my privilege, as a white woman, to have access to and enjoy the art that is easily presented to me in mainstream theatre but want to take active steps to ensure I make a positive change.
Theatre is supposed to be a mirror to society, and force people to look at themselves and those around them. If there is a lack of diversity in theatre from the people behind the venues, to the creatives behind the show and the artists on the stage, then the mirror is not representing the society that we have lived in and are living in.
For over thirty years, Talawa has been providing creative opportunities for black artists across the UK and having toured over fifty productions they are the nation’s leading touring black-led theatre company. The charity supports and develops artists at different stages in their careers, enriching contemporary British theatre.
Donate to Talawa
Get involved by signing up to their mailing list and supporting future productions
Support the Tara Theatre
The Tara Theatre in London aims to connect worlds through the arts, by telling stories both classic and new. Each year, the organisation has to raise £150,000 in addition to Box Office income and Arts Council England subsidy.
Donate to Tara in a variety of ways
Regularly check tours on Black Theatre Live
Black Theatre Live has all the information you may need about tours and venues across the UK that feature National Black Asian Minority Ethnic touring. The website includes research that they have carried out, as well as resources for education. There is also a map feature that allows you to see the venues within your area, producing companies to follow, and an up to date list of shows and tours that they support with details of performance dates, creatives and press material.
Support Black Theatre Live shows by spreading the word, buying tickets and reading their research.
Read stories by BAME authors
Theatre lends itself to and is inspired by novels and biographies. There is a host of stories ready to educate and entertain diverse audiences.
I personally read YA fiction and in the last few months I have read and enjoyed novels by Tayari Jones (Silver Sparrow, An American Marriage), Candice Carty-Williams (Queenie), Kiley Reid (Such A Fun Age) and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister, The Serial Killer).
Malorie Blackman shared the following link to highlight BAME authors:
Victoria Alexander on Twitter shared her anti-racist reading list:
Read stories with BAME characters to children
A 2018 research project by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education showed that only 4% of children’s books published in the previous 12 months featured BAME characters, and just 1% had a BAME protagonist.
We subconsciously relate to the characters that we see in film, books, and on stage and even more so when we are growing up. Children’s books are read to nourish self-confidence, relationships, and independence and in representing all children they will be able to offer different perspectives of society that are clearly visible and shown to belong.
Read Peters’ recommendations for children’s books with BAME characters
Sign the petition to update the GCSE reading list to battle racism
Watch/read/listen to what theatre creatives are saying
Exeunt Magazine in NYC have shared a series of tweets collecting the words of playwrights, theatre-makers, writers and performers speaking out about their experiences.
Pay attention to your local theatre
I vow to make myself aware of the content they are programming, producing and how inclusive it is of the society that we live in.
I vow to start conversations with creative teams if I do not understand their decision, and challenge if I do not agree.
I will actively look to performance groups in community centres and universities and attend events such as poetry and spoken word nights, read-throughs and workshops designed to unite local creatives in order to expand my mind, experiences and knowledge and learn from those around me.